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 & Loyalty, Retail

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, Social Media, Customer Experience & Loyalty, Generational Research

The Evolving Relationship between Social Media & Loyalty Programs

Posted by Judy Melanson

Wed, May 23, 2012

I’m on record as saying that loyalty programs should focus on rewarding behaviors that have a direct financial benefit to the business (i.e., purchase, bookings, and sales).  Because of this belief, I was staunchly opposed to the concept of giving loyalty members “points for tweets.” But my thinking, like the role of social media in general, has evolved. 

One reason for my change of heart is that ‘social media’ no longer just means Facebook or Twitter…it now includes location-based tools (like FourSquare) and connecting to people ‘on the go’ through mobile apps. This new revolution (according to those who name new revolutions!) is called SoLoMo (social, location, mobile) media. 

Last month I led a panel discussion at the Loyalty Expo in Orlando on the role of social media in loyalty programs and it was clear from the start that we couldn’t talk about social media without talking about mobile and location-based services (SoLoMo!). The loyalty lifecycle shown below provides a basis for understanding how SoLoMo tactics can support member engagement:


Loyalty Lifecycle

Acquire:  To reach members that ‘look like’ your currently valuable members, Loyalty Marketers can use SoLoMo tools.  Two recent examples of programs developed to get members/customers to talk about a company/program are offered by Tasti D-Lite and Caesars.  TastiRewards incentivizes customers to associate their Twitter and Foursquare accounts with their Tasti D-Lite membership cards, posting a tweet or comment every time they order a delicious treat. Caesars recently relaunched Total Rewards, giving loyalty members points for tweets.  These SoLoMo initiatives can drive program awareness and member acquisition.

Tastee Rewards
Facebook, Twitter and other online communities (gated or not) are ideal platforms to introduce customers to the ‘loyalty club’ to let these newbies learn from like-minded members—and, importantly, encouraging them to use their rewards, rather than just letting them languish in their wallets.

:  SoLoMo tools can be employed in a variety of ways to engage and strengthen relationships with current members.  Here are some examples:   

  • Making rewards more obtainable:   Citi’s rewards app lets cardholders ‘pool’ rewards so they can plan a joint purchase, trip, or even make a charitable donation to an organization they support

  • Surprise and delight your customers: Best Buy surprised (and no doubt delighted!) a few of its reward members with tickets to the Twilight movie premiere. Members were selected and invited based on past purchase history and spending potential.  

  • Make rewards/currency more relevant:  Companies like ifeelgoods are offering loyalty programs as an option to provide a social currency to reward member’s behavior.  With 240 million active monthly users on Zynga, there’s a good chance at least some of your members would enjoy the opportunity to buy digital goods. 

Retain and win back
:  While we don’t suggest giving up traditional channels for monitoring and responding to customer service failures, social media can let you discover failures (and wins!) quickly and begin the customer recovery process.

The bottom line is, your customers are social, they use Facebook and other sites, and they expect businesses to not only have a presence but to engage.  Sites like Facebook and Twitter are ideal platforms to engage and reward customers – particularly through SoLoMo tools.  So I’d like to report that I’ve “come around,” to see the value of social media for loyalty programs because of the opportunities they present to engage, and “surprise and delight” your most valuable customers.

Want to learn more about our approach to building Customer Loyalty? See how CMB helped GE CareCredit redesign their online customer advocacy panel, creating a community with high engagement and even higher returns. Watch the webinar.

Posted by Judy Melanson. Judy leads the Travel & Entertainment practice and loves collaborating with clients on driving customer loyalty.  She's the mom of two teens and the wife of an oyster farmer. Follow Judy on Twitter at @Judy_LC

Topics: Mobile, Marketing Strategy, Social Media, Customer Experience & Loyalty