By Barbara Bacci Mirque
During a winter trip to the lovely Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort in British Columbia, Canada, I learned firsthand about the dark side of one to one marketing. No, not the digital type this term invokes but the good old fashioned one on one, personal sale that built companies such as Fuller Brush and Avon.
My experience was with a vacation timeshare and the outcome was not pleasant, but now that company is going to learn about the power of the conversation and how in the digital communication world we inhabit, the customer has a voice – a loud voice. I can express my displeasure with this company not to a few friends but to many hundred through blogs, social network sites, etc.
So what happened to incur this wrath? As my husband and I sat warming up in one of the ski lodges, we were scoped out by a marketing person since we fit their demographic (stable looking couple, in the age bracket of those who might be induced to purchase a timeshare at this fabulous resort – how is that for traditional targeting?!). When the pleasant young man started chatting us up, whereas this hardened New Yorker would have ignored him back home, we began conversing and were ultimately invited to a vacation timeshare presentation. Since we had never participated in one before we accepted (and the offer of 2 free lift tickets was enticing!) Little did we know what we were getting into when we later arrived at the sales office– the hard sell began. Ultimately our twenty-something salesman - a former self-acclaimed champion snowboarder - became very offended when we steadfastly refused his incredible price incentive. He ended the session by loudly insulting us and berating us for attending "just for the free gift" (Well of course – but they offered!)
So what are the lessons here?
- For one, be sure you thoroughly train all of your touch points. Your most customer facing among them should not insult your customers. The well honed marketing campaign about this company’s charming accommodations at this terrific ski resort can all be for naught when up against a rude employee.
- Second, monitor the conversation and respond – read the blogs and track what is being said about your company and correct negative perceptions. I plan to post negative comments about this company on communities that I frequent such as TripAdvisor and I will actively seek out other relevant blogs on which I can complain about them.
Don’t let this happen to your company and if it does for legitimate reasons, react to it and correct it at the source.