Home and the Range: Why Brand Evangelism is Crucial
As part of our new kitchen remodel, my wife and I have been searching for a new range – a fairly big commitment, given the appliance’s cost and longevity.
We finally found a Viking range that was perfect – it had all the features we needed, and only cost about twice what our budget and sanity dictated. My next thought was to start looking online for brand evangelists, to reassure myself that this was the one to buy. It’s comforting to hear people swear by the product you’re paying big bucks for.
What I found instead were detractors. Lots of them. In fact, one comparison site had 26 pages of detractions about the range I was considering. Operating problems, service problems, all of that.
This got me thinking about the nature of customer listening on the Internet. Of course, we all know that the Internet draws extremes, which means that rabid evangelists and detractors will comprise a large part of the commentary on a product.
But extremes aside, the Internet means that customers are listening to each other as well as to companies. So companies need to be sensitive to the cost of short-term decisions – made to reduce customer support costs – that have long consequences. If you screw up the relationship, your detractors’ posts will be around for a long time.
Viking appears to have no strategy in place to build brand evangelists. And when you don’t build evangelists, you risk abandoning your brand to detractors, who will control the conversation.
One of our neighbors has a Viking range, and he loves it. But my wife took a look at those 26 pages of complaints and said, “No way.”
Moral: your customers are listening. If you aren’t cooking up a strategy for building evangelists, prepare to get burned.