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Boaty McBoatface: Social Media Meets Market Research on the Cyber Seas

Posted by Brian Jones

Mon, May 02, 2016

Boaty_McBoatface.pngIn case you missed it, the UK’s Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC) asked a silly question on a serious topic, and the cyber seas responded in kind. News media and bloggers converged in viral fashion and grabbed the opportunity to steer the campaign on their own course. I put my market research cap on and joined the flotilla. 

Background on the Buzz

On March 17th, the NERC agency launched a campaign to promote the future launch of their newest and largest research ship, designed to carry scientists and their equipment to the earth’s Polar Regions. Their #NameOurShip campaign invited the public to submit name ideas, and it quickly caught on as an opinion poll. The cyber buzz really unfolded after a public relations professional suggested the name “Boaty McBoatface” upon seeing other silly names people had posted, and the name sailed to the top of the boards. On April 16th, NERC pulled the plug on collecting votes, and a NERC spokesperson stressed that there is no guarantee the ship would be named after the winning entry because the final decision will be made by the chief executive of the organization.    

What I Learned from Those Influenced by the Campaign

The #NameOurShip campaign was hugely successful in emotionally engaging the public, despite the backlash to NERC scuttling the winning name. People left waves of comments for NERC’s leadership to surf through.  

“The only reason I ever heard of this is because of the name controversy. Far more people are likely to stay interested in Boaty McBoatface than some humdrum 'sensible' name, because it has already been adopted as a kind of maritime national pet.” (Comment posted on one of the many Boaty Blogs)

 The comments made for an interesting read, and I came up with a few takeaways. 

  1. There is a deserving national identity with heroic British polar explorers that would look great in large letters on the transom of a $300 million research ship, e.g., the “RRS Henry Worsely” (15,774 votes). Henry Worsely died in January while attempting to complete the first solo and unaided crossing of the Antarctic—just 30 miles short after crossing 900 miles in 71 days. 
  1. Beneath the veneer of the online pranksters and goofballs who posted votes for names like “Ice, Ice Baby” (3,673 votes) and “Boatimus Prime” (8,365 votes), the public clearly wants a memorable name that makes a global statement about British identity, and for some, that’s a whimsical endeavor. 
  1. For some, “Boaty McBoatface” (124,109 votes) presents an opportunity to do public good on the behalf of NERC’s commitment to the pursuit in education in science. The “RRS Dora the Polar Explorer” (983 votes) might not get smirks from scientists performing serious research, but mom and dad might have a more favorable impression of NERC if their child’s bath toy had “NERC” and “Boaty” logos on it. 
  1. Interestingly, very few online posts revealed interest or concern with NERC’s mission to explore issues such as environmental hazards, natural resources, and environmental change. Instead, the names “Steve Prescott” (1,413) and “Poppy-Mai”/”Princess PoppyMai” (40,384 votes) received buzz; both individuals were struck down with rare forms of cancer. If NERC more clearly links their mission to staving off visible human or ecological tragedy, they might make good use of the awareness equity that their campaign has generated. 
  1. For others, the campaign was a pretended attempt of government to give citizens a voice when the final decision rests with privileged few. This is compounded by anxiety over the upcoming European Union membership referendum. NERC must navigate public sentiment in an environment where people are a bit on edge. This is expressly dangerous when a social media campaign is presented as crowdvoting. While crowdvoting or crowdsourcing can be a legitimate form of research, when public perception can’t differentiate a PR campaign masked as a public opinion poll from serious market research, it erodes researcher’s ability to get reliable market insights. 

For market research to work, we need the public to be smart—not silly. There is research value in capturing emotional response, but we need to strive to capture unbiased rational opinion. Social media marketing can taint the waters for research if the public perceives a campaign as being less than honest and truthful. 

The Australian Government is now pirating the #NameOurShip approach for their own new Antarctic scientific research vessel, vowing to avoid the ballast that seemingly sank public opinion of the UK’s campaign. I can’t wait to see what the Aussies come up with. 

Brian is a Senior Project Manager at Chadwick Martin Bailey. Given his Navy background, he feels compelled to point out that the vessel-who-must-be-named is not actually a “boat” and should be called “Shippy McShipface.” 

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Topics: consumer insights, social media, brand health and positioning

CMB Conference Recap: Hubspot’s INBOUND 2015

Posted by Kirsten Clark

Tue, Sep 15, 2015

Hubspot, INBOUND, marketing, CMB Conference RecapLast week, I attended Hubspot’s INBOUND conference to attend workshops, network with fellow marketers, and hear speakers as diverse as Chelsea Clinton, Aziz Ansari, and Daniel Pink present on topics like disruption, innovation, and how to really connect in an increasingly crowded landscape. Here are just 4 (of many) key takeaways:

1. Adapt to changing SEO. Bill King and Tyler Richer from Hubspot emphasized that keywords continue to lose influence as Google continues to become smarter and smarter. How can you get around this? Start by writing content that’s genuinely useful, and share your content on social media. Sharing it on social media doesn’t directly affect rank, but it does affect distribution (which can affect rank). Finally, remember that there should always be an element of empathy when creating an SEO plan. Searchers have experiences with brands when they search, and you want to make sure every experience with your brand is a great one.

2. Embrace social media ads. They’re here to stay. You might have noticed that Facebook’s organic reach has plummeted. Larry Kim, Founder and CTO of WordStream, pointed out that most of the content people put out on social networks is never seen, and that’s a missed opportunity since 28% of people’s online time is spent on social networks. Social media ads are a highly scalable vehicle for content promotion, so it’s time to embrace the inevitable and boost those posts!

3. Stop storytelling. Start storymaking. David Berkowitz, CMO at MRY, discussed the shift from storytelling to storymaking. The phrase might sound jargony, but semantics aside, what Berkowitz is really asking us to do is make storytelling an interactive experience. Below are some of the differences between storytelling as a monologue and storymaking as an experience:

Hubspot, INBOUND, marketing, CMB Conference Recap, storytelling

To see an example of this in action, look no further than Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign. You can find a bottle of Coca-Cola with your name on it in-store or create your own online. This has inspired a plethora of consumer created content, including this pregnancy announcement that has almost 4.5 million views on YouTube.

4. Be brave. During her keynote, Brené Brown stressed that the path to joy, love, and trust lies in vulnerability. Being vulnerable means being brave and being willing to show up and be seen when you have no control over the outcome. Each of us faces a choice between comfort and courage every day, and it’s about time we start choosing the latter in both our professional and personal lives. How? Don't say you're different—be different. Take a page out of Ben & Jerry's book and dare to be distinct.

Did you attend? Tell us your favorite takeaways in the comments.

Kirsten Clark is a Marketing Associate at CMB. She also had the privilege of seeing the hysterical (no, really, there were tears) Amy Schumer at INBOUND. (Amy, if you’re reading this, please consider being my friend. I make excellent guacamole.)

Topics: storytelling, marketing strategy, social media, conference recap, brand health and positioning

Modern Enigma: Deciphering the Language of Emojis

Posted by Blair Bailey

Wed, Sep 09, 2015

emojis, language, brandingParlez-vous emoji? Step aside, French – there’s a new language of the future. Well, maybe.

Since Apple’s release of the emoji keyboard in 2011, the use of emojis has grown exponentially. This past March, nearly half of Instagram comments and captions contained emoji characters. But this isn’t just the language of choice for consumers. Emojis are brands’ latest attempt to appeal to the younger, texting-heavy demographics of Millennials and Gen Z. Brands such as Coca-Cola and Bud Light are using emojis to create unique content to stand out with these younger demographics. Even though these tiny images can set a brand’s message apart, it’s also very easy for the message to fall flat with consumers.Even so, brands are venturing into the world of emojis to develop content as well as to investigate their audiences. Independent shop Big Spaceship is working on technology to develop definitions for brand tracking via emojis. This would be done similar to the measurement of brand sentiment using the occurrence of specific words on social media. The idea isn’t to look at emojis alone, but to examine them within the context of social content. Theoretically, this would allow brands to examine differences as seemingly miniscule as using a red heart instead of a blue heart in a social media comment.  

Instagram considered this very difference in their Emojineering blog, and found that, in fact, blue hearts and red hearts don’t mean the same thing. Instagram took a similar approach to Big Spaceship and studied the occurrence of specific emojis with specific words and hashtags. They examined the hashtags associated with certain color hearts in the absence of a red heart. A blue heart lead to Duke-related hashtags (#goblue, #letsgoduke, etc.) and Autism Awareness-related hashtags (#autismspeaks), while a yellow heart lead to spring-related and earth-related hashtags (#springhassprung, #hellospring, #happyearthday, etc.).

As a market researcher, this use of emojis is intriguing and problematic. I’d love to know the meaning and reasoning behind a consumer’s decision to post a cat emoji rather than the kitten face emoji, but playing Bletchley Park doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll find what I’m looking for. The texting-based language of emojis, while expressive, only brings us a little bit closer to the full picture. There is a much easier way to get an honest read of respondents’ emotions towards a brand—just ask them. At CMB, we use custom market research and our new survey-based approach to measuring the emotional impact of brands, EMPACT℠, to find out how your customers really feel about your brand. . .rather than spend time defining heart and cat emojis.

Blair Bailey is an Associate Researcher at CMB who language, branding, emojis.

Learn More About EMPACT℠

Topics: millennials, social media, EMPACT, emotional measurement, brand health and positioning

Brands Get in a Frenzy Over Shark Week

Posted by Athena Rodriguez

Wed, Aug 19, 2015

Summer brings many joys—BBQ’s, the beach, and one of my favorite holidays. . .I’m referring, of course, to Shark Week. For over 25 years, the Discovery Channel has loaded as much shark-related content as possible into a 7-day period, including TV programming, online content, and social media frenzies by both the network and other “official” (and non-official) partners.While some of these partnerships are no-brainers (e.g., Oceana, National Aquarium, and Sea Save Foundation), other less obvious partners such as Dunkin Donuts, Cold Stone Creamery, and Southwest Airlines, must get creative with their marketing to connect their brands to “the most wonderful week of the year.” Southwest, for example, offered flyers the chance to watch new content via a special Shark Week channel and to enter a sweepstakes for a chance to swim with sharks. Both Cold Stone Creamery and Dunkin Donuts debuted special treats (“Shark Week Frenzy”—blue ice cream with gummy sharks—and a lifesaver donut, respectively).

brand engagement, shark week, television

But it didn’t stop there—brands on social media found ways to tie in products to Shark Week in every way possible. Just take a look at these posts from Claire’s, Salesforce, and Red Bull.

shark week, brand engagement, television

So, what’s in it for these brands? Why go out of their way to connect themselves to something like Shark Week, which is seemingly unrelated to their services and products? It’s as simple as the concept of brand associations. Since brand associations work to form deeper bonds with customers, brands are often on the lookout for opportunities that will boost their standing with customers. Shark Week attracts millions of viewers each night, and since it’s one of the few true television events that remains, it presents the perfect opportunity for brands to engage with customers in a way they don’t often get to do. Furthermore, it demonstrates that these brands are in tune with what their customers like and what’s happening in the pop culture world. And, judging by the amount of interactions brands received from consumers, I’d say it worked.

If you missed the fun of Shark Week last month (the horror!) or just want more, don’t worry—Shweekend is just around the corner (August 29th), and I’ll be anticipating what brands can come up with this time. . .

Athena Rodriguez is a Project Consultant at CMB, and she is a certified fin fanatic. 

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Topics: advertising, marketing strategy, social media, television, brand health and positioning, digital media and entertainment research

Social Media? Scandal's Got It Handled.

Posted by Kirsten Clark

Thu, May 14, 2015

describe the imageDo you have plans tonight?

If you’re like me, you’ll be snuggled up on your couch with a glass of red wine in one hand and Twitter pulled up on your phone in the other, ready and waiting for tonight’s Scandal finale. I’ll admit it: I love all Shonda Rhimes’ shows. I’ve watched Grey’s Anatomy since season 3 and How to Get Away with Murder after it premiered last fall. But as much as I love these two shows, I know I can DVR them and avoid spoilers. There’s one of Shonda’s shows, however, that I will move mountains to watch live because I just know that if I don’t, I will be spoiled the minute I go online. That show, ladies and gentlemen, is Scandal.

Since its premiere in 2012, Scandal has positioned itself as “event television”—the kind of can’t-miss show that needs to be watched live to get the full experience— which, if you think about it, is a pretty amazing feat. Just a few years ago, event television was thought to be dead with few exceptions (award shows, sporting events, etc.), but Scandal has resurrected it. How? Through cliffhangers, top secret plots, and brilliant marketing campaigns. But none of these have contributed more to this positioning than the show’s masterful use of Twitter.

describe the image

The community the show has built on Twitter has been key to Scandal’s success, and this success story has a lesson that all brands should remember: loyalty and engagement are key. So, how has Scandal been able to do this? Through an immersive campaign that integrates organic fan-generated content with participation from cast and crew members. Each Thursday night, I am one of the #Gladiators scrolling through Twitter to read live tweets from fellow fans as well as cast members. The actors on the show are not the only people participating—fans can chat with Scandal’s writers (@ScandalWriters), prop master (@scandalprops), makeup department (@ScandalMakeup), and others.

In addition to live tweeting, Scandal has also brilliantly incorporated hashtags into its social media strategy. For instance, in 2012, the show was one of the first programs to advertise on Twitter and to feature a promoted hashtag (#WhoShotFitz) in advertising. The show uses a variety of hashtags for different purposes. For example, the show used #ScandalRecruitment during one month in season three to attract new viewers, and it often promotes #AskScandal, which viewers can use to ask a cast or crew member a question about the show.

All of this has culminated in a massive social media following. The show’s fans send out over 350,000 tweets per episode and, until recently, Scandal had the highest average tweets per episode during live airings of any broadcast drama this season. The show that beat Scandal? Newcomer Empire, which has based its social media strategy (live tweeting, promoted hashtags, etc.) off the success of Scandal’s strategy.

You’re probably asking yourself: why does this matter? First of all, after watching Olivia Pope shut someone down with a scene-stealing speech, is there anything more exciting than getting to directly interact with Kerry Washington about that exact scene? (The answer is no, people.) More importantly, Twitter released a study last May which found that after seeing TV-related tweets, 90% of people take “subsequent action such as watching a show they’ve never watched before, resuming a show that they’d previously stopped watching, and/or searching for more information about the show online.” Let this be a lesson to all brands (not just television shows): building a passionate fan base on Twitter generates loyalty and engagement, which in turn generates increased revenue.

So, fellow Gladiators, cancel your plans and settle in, because tonight promises to be another adventure—both on-screen and on your Twitter feed.

Kirsten Clark is a Marketing Associate at CMB who one day aspires to be like Olivia Pope. . .except without all torture, murders, and Presidential affairs.

Topics: marketing strategy, social media, television, customer experience and loyalty, digital media and entertainment research

Are You There, News? It's Me, Snapchat.

Posted by Blair Bailey

Tue, Feb 24, 2015

snapchat, discoverSitting in my cozy Boston office, sipping coffee, I’m suddenly transported to Washington State’s Cascade Mountain Range, soaring above the mile-high Cowboy Mountain and scanning Tunnel Creek, a popular, snow-powdered trail and the site of the tragic 2012 Stevens Pass avalanche.This is the genius of the graphics that accompany “Snow Fall: The Avalanche in Tunnel Creek,” a story that debuted in 2012 on The New York Times’ online edition. Although the rushing show and biting winds are only graphics embedded within the article, they are so well done you feel like you are there. In recent years, The New York Times, a stalwart of traditional print news, has dominated digital storytelling, integrating stunning and sometimes interactive graphics within its pages.

As beautiful as these features are (and they are still stunning 3 years later), where does this interactive, visual storytelling fit within our 140-character, 6-second-film, top-8 lives? (Forgive the MySpace reference, but nothing conveys digital restrictions more than fitting your most prized friendships into a 2 x 4 grid.)

Snapchat, an app notorious for its not-so-lasting impressions, recently released Discover, allowing traditional media companies to feature public content, like trailers and current events, within the app. The media outlets range from Cosmopolitan to National Geographic and tease users with graphics and sound bites as well as the traditional flashy headlines. After hitting the purple dot in the upper right corner, users are presented with an array of publications to choose from. Once a publication is selected, users can swipe left and right to move through stories, swipe up to read more, or swipe down to exit the publication and return to the Discover menu.

By now, most publications have a mobile presence of some type. So, why is Snapchat’s most recent move something we should care about? Although it’s not an entirely novel idea, Snapchat’s new feature adds several unique twists to digital storytelling.

  • In keeping with Snapchat’s ephemerality, Discover’s content is only available for twenty-four hours. While the content can be viewed as many times as desired during that period, the news outlet invites users to come back tomorrow for new stories.
  • Unlike Facebook and Twitter, both of which typically lead the user away from the platform, all Discover content—articles, videos, photo sets, trailers, music videos, etc.—is contained within the app.
  • Snapchat also serves a very different demographic than most social media sites. Discover is targeted to Millennials, but, as of July 2014, over 50% of Snapchat users are between 13-17 years old and over 80% are under 24 years old. Many of the publications on Discover may be taking an initial risk straying so far from their key audiences .
  • Discover is also a fresh idea to existing Snapchat users. Unlike Twitter, where incoming brands have to adhere to the existing 140-character boundaries, Discover breaks the Snapchat mold without straying too far from its original purpose. The format is different enough to interest users and keep them coming back, but still familiar enough that users recognize the Snapchat interface.

While the selection of publications could be tweaked further, Discover shows that Snapchat knows its users. Short, (mostly) teenage attention spans still get their familiar bite-size content but in a format that’s new enough to hold their attention. Discover also holds the potential to keep Millennials coming back for more than momentary embarrassing videos and wacky photos. It adds value to an app that has seen a lot more selfies than the average person could probably handle.

With over 1.2 billion websites cluttering our networks, storytelling has become increasingly important to stand out among the dot nets and dot coms. And it’s not just apps and news sites. In data heavy fields like market research, it can be easy to let storytelling take a backseat. That’s why we’re investing more time and resources into creating dynamic storytelling through infographics, video, and mobile. This engaging, inspiring, and motivating content brings results to life and helps us strengthen the relationship between our clients and their audiences. . .and best of all, we do it without all those selfies.

Blair Bailey is an Associate Researcher at CMB and a recent M.S. graduate from Boston University. When she isn’t working with data or being held captive by the commuter rail, you can find her carefully flooding her social media feeds with pictures of dogs.

Topics: mobile, storytelling, social media

A Perfect Match? Tinder and Mobile Ethnographies

Posted by Anne Hooper

Wed, Apr 23, 2014

Tinder JoeI know what you are thinking...“What the heck is she TALKING about? How can Tinder possibly relate to mobile ethnography?”  You can call me crazy, but hear me out first.For those of you who may be unfamiliar, Tinder is a well-known “hook up” app that’s taken the smartphone wielding, hyper-social Millennial world by storm. With a simple swipe of the index finger, one can either approve or reject someone from a massive list of prospects. At the end of the day, it comes down to anonymously passing judgment on looks alone—yet if both users “like” each other, they are connected. Shallow? You bet. Effective? Clearly it must be because thousands of people are downloading the app daily.

So what’s the connection with mobile ethnography? While Tinder appears to be an effective tool for anonymously communicating attraction (anonymous in that the only thing you really know about the other person is what they look like), mobile ethnography is an effective tool for anonymously communicating daily experiences that we generally aren’t as privy to as researchers. Mobile ethnography gives us better insight into consumer behavior by bringing us places we’ve never gone before but are worthy of knowing nonetheless (Cialis, anyone?). Tapping into these experiences—from the benign to the very private—are the nuts and bolts behind any good product or brand.

So how might one tap into these experiences using mobile ethnography? It’s actually quite easy—we create and assign “activities” that are not only engaging for participants, but are also designed to dig deep and (hopefully) capture the "Aha!" moments we aim for as researchers. Imagine being able to see how consumers interact with your brand on a day-to-day basis—how they use your product, where their needs are being fulfilled, and where they experience frustrations. Imagine “being there” when your customer experiences your brand—offering insight into what delights and disappoints them right then and there (i.e., not several weeks later in a focus group facility). The possibilities for mobile ethnography are endless...let’s just hope the possibilities for Tinder come to a screeching halt sooner rather than later.

Anne Hooper is the Director of Qualitative Services at CMB. She has a 12 year old daughter who has no idea what Tinder is, and she hopes it stays that way for a very long time.

Topics: methodology, qualitative research, social media

5 Benefits of Storytelling in the Consumer-Driven World

Posted by Alyse Dunn

Tue, Aug 27, 2013

Digital StorytellingCommunication has changed. With the growth of the “Social Market,” businesses can no longer rely solely on traditional mediums—television, print, and radio, to win consumers. Consumers are key players in a social revolution that’s changing the way they speak with each other and with businesses.So, what does this mean for Marketing and Customer Development? The way consumers choose products and services has taken a sharp turn, with more decisions driven by word-of-mouth and experiential benefits. From a Marketing perspective, businesses need to focus on pulling customers in by offering targeted, useful, and engaging content, rather than pushing out broad campaigns.

How can businesses take advantage of this two-way communication and connect with customers in a way that drives loyalty and advocacy? One of the best ways is through storytelling.

The 5 Keys to Storytelling

  • Stories help us understand the world: Throughout history, stories have been the way people make sense of the world. People thrive on stories to help them put things in perspective and to help them navigate the overwhelming amount of data, facts, and realities that confront them. Stories are one of our oldest mechanisms for security, which is why they are so powerful. If a business can use a story to show how a product/service can be beneficial, people will form a stronger connection.

  • It is human nature: When you tell someone about your child or vacation, you don’t tell them your child’s hair color or that the weather was 85.2 degrees. You communicate more emotionally by telling others something funny that your child did or that you went surfing for the first time. People do not operate in the realm of data, it is counter-intuitive to how we are hard-wired, which is why storytelling in business is so powerful. If you want to connect with a person and drive advocacy, your best bet is weaving factual benefits into an even more powerful story.

  • Don’t overwhelm with data: At the end of the day, you are speaking to a person.  People don’t digest data the same way a computer can. Data can be beneficial, but most people are looking for a connection. Apple is a great example of a business that has driven a connection with their customers by weaving data with storytelling, which is one of the reasons they have such high brand loyalty.

  • It is no longer a ‘Business’ connecting with a ‘Consumer’: It is people connecting with people. Businesses need to understand who they are speaking with and cater communications in relevant manner. People will not connect with a business that offers no emotional connection and that doesn’t meet a need.

  • It’s a two-way street: Consumers have a larger say in marketing and branding because the way consumers communicate has shifted. People are listening to other people as opposed to large campaigns. The value of word-of-mouth has soared, and social media allows people to see what others are saying, in real-time. Two-way communication is very powerful. By taking the time to have conversations with consumers, businesses have been able to learn and thrive in the consumer-driven market. This is critical to success and to building both advocacy and loyalty.

Storytelling is a pivotal part of marketing, communications, and business. Without it, consumers find it difficult to connect and advocate for something. Storytelling can and should be used in any business because it can drive loyalty, advocacy, and trust.

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t trust a solely data driven business to care for my interests, I would and do trust the businesses who have worked to understand my needs and who have created an emotional connection through the power of stories.

Alyse is a super-star associate at CMB, and a captain of CMB’s Light the Night team to raise money to fight Leukemia.  She is a kid-at-heart, loves Disney’s approach to storytelling, and is a 43 time Disney World visitor.

Join Tauck's Jeremy Palmer, CMB's Judy Melanson and South Street Strategy Group's Mark Carr on September 12th at noon (EDT) for a webinar: Focused Innovation: Creating New Value for a Legacy Brand

Topics: storytelling, consumer insights, social media

The Bright Side of The New Customer Experience

Posted by Jessica Chavez

Wed, Jun 26, 2013

customer experience satisfactionOne of the cardinal rules of great customer service is be helpful - even if there's no immediate profit in it. That’s never been truer than today; a customer who feels truly special and cared for has more channels to express themselves than ever before. We hear quite a bit about the power of negative reviews; many companies spend millions trying to recover poorly-served customers, but the positive impact of a happy customer also deserves attention.Case in point, Crate & Barrel has awesome customer service. And now all my friends, and friends of friends, and probably even their friends, know it. I bought 2 glasses from Crate & Barrel a few months ago. One arrived chipped. I called to see about getting it replaced, I was all geared up to argue my case to the representative on the phone. I was ready to try and prove that it arrived chipped, I wanted to make sure she knew that I wasn’t lying about it to get something for free. Of course, I assumed I would have to send it back, so they could see that it was indeed chipped and mark it in some inventory database somewhere, and basically go through a lot of trouble to get my unchipped glass.

The customer service rep didn’t question me at all.  She looked it up in the database, saw that I had ordered the glasses, apologized for one being chipped, and said she would send a replacement out right away. She said as far as the chipped glass goes – I could keep it and use it as a flower vase or throw it out or do whatever I wanted with it. I got the new one 2 days later.  It could not have been easier or more pleasant.

I was so excited about the whole experience that I immediately posted on Facebook about it.

Facebook and Yelp have, of course, helped revolutionize customer service. Before them, a bad experience could be emailed around to friends, talked about at gatherings, you might have even written to the company itself. But these channels only reached so many people. Now, however, through Facebook, Yelp, and countless other online review sites, we can reach thousands of potential customers in one second. We can literally tell the world about our experience, good or bad. This is a pretty powerful motivator for companies to go above and beyond in the customer service department, and we can thank social media for that.  

Jessica is a data manager for CMB’s Technology, e-Commerce, and Medical Devices practice.  She always reads reviews or consults Yelp before buying any new products or services.

Click here to read more of our Customer Experience blogs.

Topics: social media, customer experience and loyalty, retail research

Can an App Make Improving Customer Experience a Snap?

Posted by Kate Zilla-Ba

Wed, May 22, 2013

taco bell snapchatIf you're over the age of 25, are childless, and have any idea of what Snapchat is, kudos on your tech hipster status. For those with tweens or teens, you may have been allowed to see a brief glimpse of this world, and maybe some of you have even heard it called a “sexting” app.Don’t we love our flow of both successful and flash-in-the-pan communication tools!  YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram…and now there’s Snapchat. Will it have the longevity of these household names?  It’s hard to say. But there’s been phenomenal adoption for this app that allows instant communication gratification. One of the key selling points of Snapchat appears to be its “self-destruct” feature.  That is, when you take a picture and send it via Snapchat the recipient has, say, 10 seconds to view it once opened before it, poof, vanishes. The idea is that the communication happens but there’s no record—incriminating or otherwise.

Now, a recipient can take a screen shot of the image (the sender is notified in this case), or if they were so inclined could use another device to take a picture of the image showing on the phone… Whew, that’s a lot of work with 50 million snaps a day already flying around as of last December (for reference, 300 million images are uploaded to Facebook a day).  

So with Snapchat, users take pictures or videos of themselves or their surroundings and send them (with a message if desired) to a contact. Once viewed, the recipient’s device in theory no longer retains the image.  This purports to alleviate concerns over the public trail left on Twitter or Facebook, and it has already been used for branding. 

A frozen yogurt shop in NYC, 16 Handles, was reportedly the first to use it for an instant couponing program—if a customer was in the right store and the right time they could get an instant coupon to flash to the salesperson for a discount. It was essentially gamification of the mobile social local aspect of the app – adding something fun and interactive. Early this month, Taco Bell joined the action, urging their fans to add them on Snapchat and reintroducing the Beefy Crunch Taco via the app.

How can other brands use this app to help manage and measure customer experiences? Much like Google Surveys says you can ask a whole survey worth of questions, pieced together one question per respondent at a time, to make the whole picture, instant messaging apps could be used to piece together a more holistic picture of how customers experience and interact with a brand.

mobileOr, shh, what about Whisper—another app phenomenon that recently got $3m in start-up funding. This one allows anonymous posting of secrets. It’s not the first idea of its kind, but it is apparently heavily moderated—good. And here’s where the generation gap really kicks in. Whisper users need this app on a psychosocial level because they have pressure to live such curated lives on Facebook. Living up to the self-brand they create is too much. Whisper is supposedly an outlet for being “real.”

That sounds even more like something that could be a source plumbed for customer experience insights, although their terms and conditions currently say clearly that you may not use the site to mine data. What about a Whisper business account that asked consumers what they secretly do, or wish they could do, with their next vacation, car rental, computer purchase, etc.?

It’s conceivable that the future could be mapped through compiling many blips of information into a coherent story. It is big data of a whole different kind. Yet, a word to the wise: there will always be newer and cleverer platforms, apps, or gadgets to let you connect with customers, but you still need to know your audience’s wants and needs—that’s been the same for centuries!

Kate is a Project Director, working with clients across many industries at CMB. She has been known to perform in local musical theater here and there, speaks three languages well and a few others passably, and loves coincidence.

Click here to read our 2013 Consumer Pulse-The Mobile Moment: Barriers and Opportunities for Mobile Wallet

Topics: big data, mobile, millennials, social media, customer experience and loyalty