You Can’t Advertise Your Way to a Great Customer Experience

A story about where customer loyalties are really won and lost...

What would it take to convince consumers that your business delivers a great customer experience?  For Microsoft, the answer appears to be $1.5 billion.

Forbes recently reported that the software maker would spend an estimated $1.5-$1.8 billion on the marketing campaign for Windows 8, presumably to convince us all that Microsoft’s new operating system is indeed the best thing since… umm, Windows 7.

And so how’s that working for them?  According to ComputerWorld, not so good.  Windows 8 sales have been underwhelming, garnering far less market share than Windows 7 at the same point in its release cycle.

Granted, the Windows 8 user interface is a significant departure from prior versions, so one could argue that adoption will slower.  But let’s not kid ourselves, Windows 8 is no beacon of customer experience excellence.

The word many software reviewers seem to use when describing the program is “confusion.”  Software design guru Jakob Nielsen went a step further, declaring that Windows 8 “smothers usability.”  Probably not the kind of press coverage Microsoft was hoping for…

But this isn’t a story about the usability of a new software program.  It’s just a sobering reminder that great, loyalty-enhancing customer experiences – the kind that get people talking and buying – can’t be created with Super Bowl ads, stadium naming rights, public relations blitzes, or any type of marketing campaign.

No matter what you’re selling, be it a piece of software or an intangible service, consumers will ultimately judge your customer experience based not on what you say, but on what you do.

The real battle for consumers’ hearts and minds isn’t waged on billboards and airwaves.  Marketing campaigns may provide air cover, but it’s the hand-to-hand combat of each customer interaction where true loyalty is forged – the usability of your software, the clarity of your communication, the helpfulness of your staff, the ease of doing business, etc.

So before you hang your hat on an expensive marketing campaign to convince consumers how wonderful your product or service is, ask yourself… why do they need convincing at all?