The whole model for building trust and authority within a market has changed. Decades of experience and a long-standing reputation are no longer the huge assets they once were. In this new world where we are judged by every interaction with every customer, people power rules.
By Mark Dissing Bækgaard
The changing landscape
In reality it has always been this way, but now the Internet and social channels have increased the scale from local to global. Brands used to be able to buy our attention. Whether it was through TV advertising, print media, or radio, they generally had a captive and passive audience.
Our main perception of a brand came from the narrative they fed us through their advertising campaigns. This is no longer the case.
The Internet provides people with far more flexibility. Users can opt out of adverts to a degree, and have more control over the content they are fed.
The game changer
Traditionally if someone had a complaint about a product or service they would contact a customer service or complaints department. This was a private conversation between a customer and the company. Even if a company was hopeless, the person’s ability to express their displeasure was limited.
The popularity of review sites means people can now read about the experiences from customers all over the world. They can educate themselves to the company’s strengths and weaknesses in a very short period of time. It doesn’t matter whether a company has an advertising budget of £250 million, or £250k, they are all equal in the face of customer feedback.
Real time feedback
Customer complaints will often also come in the form of a tweet or a Facebook status. The interaction has shifted from private to public.
This provides a brilliant platform for customer centric companies to flourish. We now have a social ‘crowdculture’ where companies are being rewarded or punished for their customer’s experience, rather than the quality of the adverts they produce.
A real and permanent change
Many companies are still spending many millions trying to apply the old branding rules to modern consumers, but the effects are fading rapidly. We have seen ‘crowdculture’ transform many markets, from holidays (Trivago) to books (Amazon), to music (Apple).
Despite massive investment from huge brands, virtually none appear anywhere near the top of the YouTube subscribers list or when it comes to followers on Snapchat. To succeed a company must engage their target audience in a transparent way that first and foremost adds value to the community.
The banking industry is not exempt from the same responsibility to its customers, and every institution is going to come under increasing pressure to provide higher levels of customer service.
All of this fuels the success of tech companies like Lunar Way, who are already a part of the ‘crowdculture’ mentality, and will take advantage of the level playing field by focusing on their own strengths of customer centric design and high levels of customer service. A simple example of this is our use of Snapchat as our primary channel of communication. It’s fast, simple and both private and public.
History is now less relevant to branding.
Any company is only as good as its last review or public interaction. This provides a fairer marketplace for everyone.