Archive for the ‘marketing’ tag
My inlaws are flying to Baltimore on United Airlines in a few weeks. It’s their first flight there and their first flight in a while. I have a couple of e-upgrades that are expiring soon. I went online and tried to redeem them. It wouldn’t let me. Since there wasn’t an itenary for me in the system, it didn’t know what to do. So I called United Airlines.
First I went through an electronic menu that appeared to be taking me where I wanted to go. In the end, it said there were restrictions on the flights and wouldn’t let me continue. I said “Agent” and was connected with a person. The agent told me that I could not upgrade my inlaws over the phone since their last name was different from mine. Instead I would need to physically go to the airport and sign a piece of paper. When the agent turned out to be just as persistent as I was, I asked to speak with a supervisor. The supervisor told me the same thing. He was not empowered to help me. He did not offer an alternative. He did not try to be helpful. He just said that he was sorry for the inconvenience. He told me I might be able to do it online though and offered to transfer me to the online desk. With nothing to lose, I said ok. The woman I spoke with at the online desk atempted to walk me through the same thing I had already tried. When she got stuck, she went and asked someone. Then she told me that I could not upgrade without being on the flight myself. Of course this is different from what the other two folks had said. I’m assuming she just doesn’t know what she’s talking about and that the other agent and supervisor are correct.
I’m struggling to understand how I can do my banking online, purchase items online (even buy a car on ebay if I chose to), but I can’t use a couple of upgrade certificates online at united.com. I’m amazed at the incompetence of the company. They should be able to figure out something as simple as this. Their staff should have been able to resolve the situation. If it really is that difficult, they could mail me the form to sign, right? Wrong. INstead of saying they’re sorry, they should have done something to help me.
Let me give you an example of really amazing customer service.
A few years ago, I bought a laptop from Dell. A few days later I went to use my credit card and it was denied. I called and they said I was over my limit. A bit more digging and it turned out that Dell had charged my credit card for many laptops and was trying to charge for more. Eventually the card went over the limit. The folks at American Express fixed the credit card issue immediately. Dell was tougher. I called there and spoke with 13 people (really). No one could help me. In exasperation, I wrote to Dell’s CEO, Michael Dell. I was able to figure out his email address and send him a note with my phone number. The very next day I got a call from someone at Dell. They immediately resolved my issue. My laptop was delivered promptly and I was a happy customer.
Imagine a CEO who looks at his email and insures that customers issues are resolved.
Now how much effort would it take for someone at United Airlines to decide to help me. They could easily find a way to help me upgrade my inlaws. They could also correct their stone age computer systems and help future travelers as well. Instead of helping me resolve my issue, they did what was easy. They did nothing.
The Wall Street Journal did a piece last week called iGenius. I’d link to it, but since it requires a subscription you may not be able to read it. The gist of the article was that Steve is a marketing genius. He certainly has his other faults, but he is the king of marketing. The key question in the article was this. Why don’t other technology companies copy Steve’s approach? I have no idea, but it continues to set him and Apple apart from the rest of the industry.
John Batelle led a discussion this morning at the web 2.0 conference. The focus was on web 2.0 marketing. He assembled a panel of experts:
John Battelle, Program Chair, Web 2.0 Conference; Chairman & Publisher, Federated Media Publishing
Curt Hecht, Chief Digital Officer, GM Planworks
Carla Hendra, Co-chief Executive Officer, Ogilvy North America
Casey Jones, Executive Vice President, Global Strategy Officer, McCann Worldgroup, Inc.
Here are some of the key points:
Examples that have worked
- Kurt described the Pontiac campaign thay ran for the Solstace. It treated search as a platform, and integrated TV and web advertising. One example he gave was a TV commercial directing users to the website. They also directed people to Google to see third party data. He mentioned that several enthusiasts sites were at the top of the search for “Pontiac”.
- Casey talked about using analytics to tie traditional and digital media and get the most impact. He gave an example of something called the Start Something Amazing Awards. The question they asked people to answer was “How has windows and Pc technology impacted your life?” The winners got to meet with Bill Gates and talk about the personal impact of technology on their lives.
- Carla talked about Dove’s Campaign for Real beauty. The video cost $50k to make and yielded an estimated $50M in advertising value. Plus it’s a great video. She also mentioned another example called the “Backdoor boys” made in Beijing. It is a bunch of kids lip synching to a backstreet boys song who get interrupted by their Mom. This video took off virally and generated an estimated $60M in advertising value.
Other interesting tidbits included:
Start thinking about micro-content. This is the idea of creating content to reach smaller audiences. It can be a variation on a single piece or new pieces, but target smaller segments.
Mix professional content and user generated content. Present both on the same page.
Take more risks (around transparency)
John Dodds has a great post about marketing to geeks. After reading it, I think it applies to non-geeks as well. What’s especially good about it is his assertion about tech support and product development being marketing functions. Read the article, then ask yourself if you have a marketing job.