Measurement is ruining your relationship with consumers

jorn sandaIn this opinion piece Jörn Sanda argues the focus on measuring everything is ruining relationships between consumers and brands.

The Devil doesn’t come dressed in a red cape, sporting pointy horns. He comes in everything you measured for.

Brands are failing their potential by measuring marketing, sales, reputation, customer experience, support, etc – as thinking defined by these terms drives a wedge between consumers and brands.

Once upon a time that may have been acceptable, when brands could force themselves on customers.

Today it’s the consumer who is forcing. And wedges force customers elsewhere. Marketing treats the consumer in every possible way to create an intention to buy.

The objective is to pass the prospect into the sales funnel as quickly as possible.

Sales will work the consumer over in every way to convert a transaction. The focus is to process the prospect fast, to reduce the lead time and ‘lock down the sale’.

Reputation looks at protecting how the brand is perceived by the masses. It doesn’t care if people want to buy, or have bought – as long as, in general, the public relates well to the brand, and the brand to the public.

Customer experience will work with customers to prevent them from becoming disgruntled. It’s usually all about eliminating pain points and resetting expectations.

Service focuses on rectifying issues where the customer is hurting, before customers share their pain with others. And it will try and deliver on what was promised in the first place, where possible.

The harsh reality from all this rather expensive effort is that brands, in general, suffer unacceptable customer churn.

Churn is the result of people’s inability to endure the multiple brand personalities and behaviours they experience, while being processed through the customer lifecycle. Moving from marketing on to sales, to experience eventually handing over to support. Whilst reputation appears to be irrelevant in the context of the individual customer.

Yes, brands engage with their consumers in convoluted ways that are messy and quite horrible. And the reason for this painful mistreatment of the consumer is due to measurement. Measurement is ruining the magic that can exist between brands and people.

Our present reality is that brands (or their executives) defend their positions through a world of metrics and data. Multiple metrics and very big data.

Sales reports are drawn on a daily basis. Marketing is quantified through ever evolving measurement. Customer experience is substantiated with regular surveys.

Support is logged and analysed across multiple axes. Reputation’s also got an index.

Plenty of dashboards, charts and numbers quantify the handling of the consumer.

It’s good, because “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it,” as oft misattributed to Peter Drucker, one of the modern era’s great thinkers on management.

But good is not enough when the consumer has the power of choice. Best is really the only option.

Sadly brands are behaving far from great. They fail with high churn because of their different measurements of the same customer, at different times of the life cycle.

Sales measures; the treatment of consumers by real-time sales metrics; marketing by its ever evolving qualifications; experience by its deliverables; and support by its reports. Reputation doesn’t even care about the consumer; just how the consumer cares about the brand.

The only thing that matters to the consumer is his or her relationship with the brand. Yet there’s no measuring of the emotion and depth that exists between consumer and brand, or the lack thereof.

I’ve not found an off-the-shelf tape measure that indexes the type and level of emotion between consumer and brand. But I’m seeing incremental advances from some corners of the commercial world, and loving the Macgyvering of social media, marketing automation, CRM and mobile – into some sort of relationship-o-meters.

It is easy to count what we all count. And I’m the first to admit the difficulty of quantifying emotion and defining relationships.

By counting that which exists between the brand and the consumer will evaluate the relationship. And beware of the devil that’s in the detail of measuring all the activity you’re doing at the customer.

Winning and retaining customers is hard. Losing them is easy. If you’re committing to a winner, go hard, or else go home.

  • Jörn Sanda is story architect at PPR

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