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McKinsey Quarterly has an excellent article on the changing role and expansion of marketing.

The old organization no longer works. Integrating brand, touchpoints and data is more critical than ever.

The CMO role is growing in importance. Consider what a person in the role of  “Director of Customer Engagement” might bring to the party.

For starters, think about the cost of client acquisition and the value of customer retention. There are new tools and new methods to make this happen.

But, they do not fit within the traditional marketing and sales department organization.

Click here to read more.

United Airlines announced they will be closing their phone line with an India-based call center which handles their customer complaint line. What they may not realize, is that they are missing out on potential opportunities for finding Zealots among the customers of their brand.

A customer complaint situation is an opportunity for any company, hotel or airline alike, to take advantage of turning a guest from a detractor into a true supporter of the brand. If a guest is upset enough to complain, the opportunity exists to take the complaint and turn it into a home run for your brand. And even moreso, Zealots for the brand are highly engaged in the brand and highly believe it in. They are potentially among those who are more likely to complain because they are so familiar with it, they know how things are supposed to be, and when things go wrong they are sure to take notice.

Customers don’t want an Indian call center “logging” their issue, they want to feel as if their voice is being heard, with both understanding and sympathy and to have the situation rectified to their liking.  They want the experience to be personal and they want to feel as though a change is being made as a result of their speaking up, that they have helped in some way in the success of the brand.

Brands should make the  process as easy and hassle-free for their guests as possible to provide feedback, both positive and negative, and should always take a proactive and responsive action to such feedback. Perhaps this is an opportunity for United to tackle the competition and refine their customer feedback process; to do it and do it well. And the shocking thing is, a phone conversation gives you a two-way conversation and the ability to ask questions about the experience, rather than a one-sided encounter on paper. Why would you want to only go to a less-effective way of handling guest relations?

Do you have “customers” for your brand? Most people (hopefully) will answer yes to this question. But a larger question still remains. Do you have “guests” of your brand?

What is the difference you may ask? Let’s take a look at the definitions for both.

A customer can be defined as:

1. a person who purchases goods or services from another.

2. a person one has to deal with.

A guest can be defined as:

1. a person who spends some time at another person’s home.

2. a person who receives hospitality.

3. a person who patronizes.

The verbiage clearly speaks for itself. Certainly we all have (and need) customers of our brand. Those that simply purchase goods or services; they’re in, they’re out.

But do we all have guests of our brand? Those who are patrons of our brands? A guest is welcomed, a guest is known, a guest is invited into your brand.

Simply having your employees think of your “customers” as “guests” could potentially make a huge impact on your service. Communicating to your customers as guests – from the methods & marketing channels you select, to the words you use – could take your relationship to a whole new level, as well as your business.

You will find those “customers” you treat as “guests” are far more likely to be the ones who are Zealots for your brand.  Amazing how a simple change in wording can lead to a complete mindshift for a brand.

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