Or: A man and his chicken, and why they’ll change how you think of promotion
Today we are honored to bring you a guest post written by Peter Shankman. Peter is a marketing and customer service futurist, whose latest book, “Zombie Loyalists: Using Great Service to Create Rabid Fans,” comes out January 27th.
Imagine a scenario, if you will.
You run a restaurant in Seattle.
You serve chicken. All kinds. Fried. Breaded. Boiled. Souped. You name it.
One morning, a potential customer, let’s call him “Joe,” leaves his apartment in Manhattan on a business trip to Seattle. Joe loves chicken. All types of chicken. If it clucks, Joe wants to eat it.
Now – In the past, perhaps you’d advertise to get Joe to your restaurant. But how, specifically? I mean, Joe lives in NYC, and it’s not your target market. Which is a shame, really, since Joe really loves Chicken, and happens to be in charge of finding a restaurant for his 20-person meeting in Seattle, the one for which he’s flying out today.
Let’s now take a different tack on this story.
Joe has obviously made his love for chicken known in the past. He’s told friends about his best chicken meals. He’s taken tons of Instagram photos of his various chicken adventures, including the best kinds of chicken he’s ever eaten, where he’s eaten them, and what made them so great. On the flip side, however, he’s also recorded the worst chicken experiences he’s ever had. All public, all for anyone to see.
Now then… Follow me here. When Joe gets to the airport and checks in for his flight, Facebook quietly takes notice. (Joe bought his tickets online, and logged in through Facebook’s one-login process.)
As Joe’s flight chugs across the country, Facebook rearranges Joe’s friend stream so that the first people he’ll see when he turns his phone on upon landing are those in Seattle.
Here’s the best part: When Joe lands, he’ll be asked if he wants to try some of the best chicken in Seattle – as chosen by those in his network – those people he already trusts. Of course, he will, and he’ll book all 20 people in his meeting there for dinner that night. Not bad for a company Joe didn’t know existed six hours before.
How will this all be possible? Simple: The information already exists, and we’re already sharing it. All the network is doing is bringing it to us when we need it most.
When I search on Steakhouses in any city today, Google Maps shows me the closest ones but also highlights the ones to which my friends have already been and enjoyed.
So what’s going to power this new engine of recommendation? Customer Service and Trust.
To put it another way, there’s no need for review sites anymore. If I have people in my network, and they have people in their network, chances are, I have more than enough people (thousands upon thousands) who can tell me whatever I’m looking for – Automatically, as I’m looking for it.
Imagine planning a vacation to Bali. You search “flights to Bali” and a popup window appears, telling you that your friend Mark went to Bali last month, his tweets and posts about his flights were positive, would you like to see the flights he took?
Since you and Mark are good friends, and you trust his judgment, why wouldn’t you?
What does this mean for businesses?
Customer service. It has to be about customer service, 100% of the time. At the end of the day, customer service will rule the world. If your service sucks, if your product sucks, the sentiment will be neutral to negative, and you simply won’t show up when people go through their network to find the best of anything.
This isn’t futuristic – It’s already happening. It simply has to be about customer service. There’s no other alternative. If you’re not focusing on customer service, and being better to your customers than anyone else, you’ll be out of business soon enough. That’s never been more true than it is today.
Think about that the next time you pick up some fried chicken.