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Who"s davidlian?

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davidlian is an ultra-geeky chinese dude that works for a technology PR agency. He loves fiddling with techno-toys, plays Warhammer 40K, and shoots pictures wherever he goes. Here, he rants about PR, Technology and anything else. Don't expect balance and un-biased, he ain't no journalist. Anything said on this blog are solely davidlian's personal views. Don't confuse them with company mantra, client's views or views of any organisation he may be part of.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Just common sense: your customers have brains too.

The golden rule for communications /PR/ customer service / anything related in this day and age has got to be: "Treat your customers with respect. They have brains." Simple thought, really, if you bother to think about it, but something I see lacking in many companies.

The latest in this trend has got to be AirAsia. See this post by KY. To avoid bad publicity, all AirAsia would have to do is act with a little intelligence and not let two people, who purchased their tickets together, with the same credit card (I'm told), checked in at the same time - be seated in different rows! What's worse is the cool, calm, collected "No" the customer service lady gives when asked if they could be seated together. Seating, apparently, is randomised.

Oh, there's more. For RM 25 a person, you could select "Hot Seats" and then you can sit together.


Given the facts, what do you, my dear thinking reader, make of AirAsia's intents?

Let me be very clear, AirAsia isn't the only company treating their customers this way. Too many other companies are. And it isn't one department's fault all the time either. Sometimes its a business decision. Sometimes, it's over-marketing. Sometimes, it's customer service treating you like an idiot ("Sir, could you please reset your modem?").

The truth is, customers aren't brain-dead. In fact, the most attractive customers, that fabled PEMB group that every client briefs you as the target audience, are savvy, thinking individuals.

They'll see through a thinly-veiled ploy to make more money. At the same time, they'll respect you giving them deep, honest, factual and frank answers and explanations. It's not like this is an overnight trend (well, I guess it is given education and literacy rates are much higher than 50 years back), but the big point is that today, just about every dissatisfied customer has a megaphone.

That's what social media is. Make the mistake of insulting their intelligence and they'll post on blogs. Grumble on forums. And tell all their friends on Facebook about your company's boo-boo. It just takes that one spark of influence to get the ball rolling down the hill.

In short, if you're planning on making a business decision, embark on a new marketing campaign or something of that sort today, please give a thought about what your customers might think of it. Don't delude yourself that your customers don't think (enough).

5 comments:

KY said...

very well written, respecting customer's intelligence is the key.

davidlian said...

@KY: Thanks!

Ben Israel said...

Hey David, great point. One of the trends we're seeing is the blurring of lines between customer care (or service) and public relations.

The two were completely separate in the past, though related.But some companies still fail to see that today, you cannot view them as mutually exclusive.

Companies like AirAsia still operate with the view that they can deal with the complaints at the front desk or call centre. Forgetting, that customers today have www.google.com on their speed dial.

Randy said...

David, next thing you know, they'll be charging you RM100 for a life jacket or oxygen mask or something like that.

davidlian said...

@Ben Israel: Indeed. The blanket term is simply - community relations. Every company has an audience - customers, investors, fanbois. Treat them wrong and you're in for a backlash.

This trend is also highlighting the blurring lines between what you say and what you do. Communications specialists can't just hide behind the fact that "we're just PR people" anymore. If all we can do for the audience is talk, then we're useless. More and more, feedback is becoming the more important part of the PR function and it's our job to make sure that the audiences' feedback is heard and acted upon within the company.

@Randy: I already pre-booked my RM25 Nasi Lemak for my trip to Perth. So let's leave it at that. :)