In the period of 1950s the concept of the marketing mix was introduced and this led to the birth of the 4Ps: Product, Price, Place, Promotion. This has been extended to include another 3Ps: People, Process, Physical Evidence.
With the birth of the Customer age in the 1990s Robert Lauterborn proposed the 4Cs: Customer, Cost, Convenience, Communication. Whilst this is a move in the right direction it is not enough. To my mind it smacks of the abstract, the intellectual, a machine way of thinking and talking. A move forward yet still within the Newtonian paradigm of the universe (including human beings) as a gigantic clock.
How about embracing the 5Hs: Human, Heart, Honesty, Hospitality and Harmony?
Get that you are dealing with flesh and blood human beings and treat your customers as human beings. Strive to treat them with the best of our humanity: kindness, benevolence, humaneness.
Being human, we notice, even if it is at a subconscious level, when these qualities are present or not. Given the choice we walk towards organisations that have a human look and feel: that are humane and treat us as human beings not machines.
How about starting with a small step that makes a huge difference: speaking with a human, conversational, voice?
As the expression goes “Have a heart!”. What does that mean? In a word it means compassion. The ability and willingness to put yourself in the shoes of your customer. To see life through her eyes, to experience what she is experiencing. It means following the golden rule “Treat your fellow man/woman in the manner in which you would like to be treated if you were in his/her shoes? Go further and embrace the platinum rule “treat your customer as he/she would like to be treated”.
How about following Zappos and making it easy for your customers to reach out and speak with you? To reach out to you – via chat, click to call etc – when she is shopping and needs guidance or reassurance? To reach out to you when she needs help in using your product or service?
How about making it easy for customers to make complaints? How about making it easy to return faulty goods? And so forth.
Let go of the spin and be honest with people in a tactful way.
Human beings stay clear of people who they find to be dishonest. When you are honest I may not like what you say yet I will respect you for being honest. Tell it as it is – upfront – it will save you a lot of pain later on: sooner or later your true colour will show especially in this densely connected world. When I catch you being dishonest (including omitting stuff that you do not want me to know) then I no longer trust you. If I don’t trust you then you are going to have to pay in way or another if you want to do business with me.
Put bluntly put as much focus on the steak – the product, the service, the reality – as you do to the sizzle of advertising and other marketing messages. Another way of saying this is to say ensure that there is a harmony between the sizzle and the steak.
Be a good host, be hospitable – to prospects, new customers, existing customers and customers who have either left or are on their way.
When you are being a good host you take the time and trouble to think of your guests and their needs. You do your best to welcome them, to make them feel at ease, to introduce them to people that they will find interesting or useful. And when the time comes for them to leave, a good host will see them to the door and wish them well and mean it! How about behaving the same way with your prospects, new customers, existing customers etc?
How about inviting your customers into the business? To listen, to share, to collaborate on new product ideas, product development, marketing communications, customer services and so forth? Incidentally, the important part about ‘social media’ is not the media, it is the social. In a social environment your character, your reputation and your manners speak so loudly that few listen to your words. A good host is mindful of this and acts accordingly.
As human beings we love harmony and we strive after it. Harmony is pleasing as it gives us peace of mind. So how about focusing your efforts on creating harmony? What does that mean in practice? Lets take a look at the dictionary definition: “the just adaptation of parts to each other, so as to form a complete, symmetrical or pleasing whole”.
How about a harmony between the promises made and the experience delivered? How about orchestrating harmony between all the silos that impact the customer experience? How about harmony between the short-term and the longer term?
It is my belief that if you don’t get the social part – that is the human desires for beauty, for meaning, for connection, for honesty…. – you are going to be increasingly lost in the 21st century. Maybe I am deluding myself. What do you think?