Digital media is teaching us to compare experiences with each other. Intent is part of the narrative — complete with the human tendency to embellish a little here and there, and to romanticize the story we tell ourselves about others.
The grass is always greener in your neighbor's yard. For this, all we can do is stay on top of our business and brand by continuously closing the gap between the promises we make and those we keep.
This is the reason why helpful is a moving target. Which is also the good news. You are in control of closing that gap for your customers. You're in charge of the work you do with your clients and on their behalf.
In less than two weeks, we'll be talking about reThinking business in the age of the social customer at re:think in Olso.
According to the 2011 Shift Index by Deloitte Center for the Edge, consumers are gaining more power than firms because they are quicker to adapt to disruptive technologies. It is connected individuals, not companies, that are harnessing flows and have more power because of it.
Brand loyalty is in decline. Without true listening, without a mechanism in place to be human, in conversation, and in the moment to get the most out of opportunities in social and other technologies you are not reaching your goal: trade better. And you might just be "more noise".
On one hand, you have organizations and brands in need of reinvention — how would you redesign the Sears customer experience? Smaller store footprint? Specialized hubs within a store for tools and appliances and kill all other products? Go digital and channel?
On the other end of the spectrum, you have organizations and brands that understand their customer lifetime value and behave accordingly in the way they deliver promises. When confronted by a choice between focusing on the stuff you make and paying extreme care to the way you deliver your service, choose "and" the superior experience.
The changes in the way customers buy mean that the biggest value for content creators, marketers, sales professionals, publishers, and anyone working with brands is in the ability to literally pin down their audience for long enough to make that connection at the moment they are ready to buy (ideally a little earlier, when they intend to do it, if your brand is not a slam dunk).
It also means that you will need to work with people who can help you map to the social media engagement profile of your customers. Think about the power of a group of customers and fans who post pictures of themselves wearing your company’s outfits. Where would you get more inspiration as a customer, from a carefully designed and shot catalog or from people just like them?
Helpful is a moving target, and that is good
Brands benefit more from confidence than trust. One way to measure the value of a brand is to measure the gap between what was promised and what was delivered. This is the brand delta. The smaller the gap, the larger the premium. But as the gap grows, the brand's value diminishes until goods and services need to be discounted.
Forget trust, take control of your brand by delivering on your business promises by doing what you say you do. Become trustworthy. Client/customers do decide whether you delivered on your promise or not.