Brand Loyalty in the Digital Age: Gone in a New York Minute?

December 17, 2013

To me, one of the better television ad campaigns in recent memory is DirecTV’s “Get Rid of Cable”, which shows cable customers doing something out of frustration with their cable provider, which then snowballs into a life-altering event. Clever and funny, the ads effectively diminish all cable brands without being specific, relying on the strong likelihood that, at some point, most cable customers have had a frustrating experience with their cable service.

I was reminded of these ads recently when a favorite cable channel stopped working on our system. Based on past experience, I expected to go through the frustrations intimated in the DirecTV ads, being stuck on the phone navigating a never-ending maze of automated instructions and long hold times to get the problem fixed.

But then something very different happened. When I went to the website to get the customer service number, I saw a live support chat option and figured, what the heck, I might as well try it. Within seconds, ‘Pavan’ answered me in the little chat box, and after a few messages back and forth, the service on the channel was magically restored! I was delighted, and typed a message of thanks to Pavan calling him a modern day wizard!

In effect, the cable provider’s live online support completely debunked part of the premise of DirecTV’s advertising campaign. But of greater import, it also demonstrated that they know how critical it is to a brand’s reputation and long-term success that they adapt to a new customer reality in the digital age.

What new reality you ask? Well, according to a recently completed global study examining trends in online behavior and consumer expectations called "Connecting with Customers", the window to win or lose brand loyalty is now a mere 76 seconds, and if a customer with a problem or question doesn’t get a live contact in that window, they either chose a slower and more frustrating option to get help, like telephone or email, or they abandon the site entirely. The research also reveals “69% of consumers are more likely to be loyal to a brand that provides live, human assistance at critical moments, and 82% indicate their perception of a brand improves when live chat is available.”

I am living proof that the results of the Connecting with Customers study are spot on, as Pavan has made me a big fan of my cable service! So obviously, the days of customer support via email, taking hours or days, or by phone, with endless automated commands and long hold times, is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. Those brands that are ready to embrace this new reality in consumer expectations will be the ones that not only enhance their brand, but also generate greater loyalty among their customers.  And the brands that don’t? Well, just watch those DirecTV ads! (My favorite? Meeting Charlie Sheen in a Turkish bath…trust me, it’s worth a look)

Have you had a positive or negative experience like mine, and how did it impact how you felt about the brand in question?

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