In the Cola Wars, the winner was the candidate who had the better marketing ammunition. In the video format wars, VHS prevailed over Betamax purely due to format efficiencies. In the WFH wars, currently played out in schools and offices, the winner will be the one who delights the end user and not the primary buyer.
It is rather incredible how the finest corporations in the universe are making such a fundamental operational error, aided by straitjacketed management thinking. Undeniably, the buyer of these services is the corporation, school or business, and the basic tenets of B2B marketing must be lovingly applied. But what they forget is that the precious user, the source of continuity, is you and me and we must be delighted for sustenance of business. From all perceptible evidence, the focus of these venerated corporations is the institutional buyer and no experiential dollar or rupee is being expended on satisfying the hapless user. The biggest culprit for this debacle is the marketing culture of such organisations, focussed on acquisition and certainly not user delight.
Before delving into diagnostics, it is necessary to dwell on the exit barriers in this category as opposed to the other profitable businesses of such organisations. It takes just a click to switch from one offering to the other and indeed the common user is comfortable with a multiplicity of formats, requiring just a simple download. So as per tenets of customer behaviour, the loyalty quotient for a brand is anyway fundamentally low and insufficient attempts at building engagement makes it worse. A dangerous situation for businesses who are accustomed to institutional loyalty as a software signed up is usually at least an annual affair, with choices not residing with the end user. This is thus a cultural conundrum and many such giants treat commoners with disdain, as if recipients of non-negotiable largesse that bless our existence.
So, the question does remain, who will win the WFH Wars? Without graduating to any intellectual debates, the answer most simply is the candidate who can guide the average user through this transition, through a genuine belief in customer centricity. From CEOs to parents, everybody is grappling functionally and emotionally with the WFH scenario and brands are not exactly lending a helping hand. Our conception of equilibrium is duly shattered and assumptions about job and security hastily terminated, we are all in a very vulnerable phase of our lives. Our adhesive to normalcy is the video call, whether work or education, and when we grapple with managing the same our morale gets further diminished. A daily reality driven by the arrogance of tech giants who consider it their supreme calling to behave like magnanimous manufacturers and not empowering enablers.
What we need most urgently is a consumer education and assistance protocol, geared towards making the user comfortable with technology. For starters, a 24-7 helpline, where a perturbed mother or a concerned teacher can simply call and find the easiest solution to the glitch. What we direly need is a simplification user app, which will enthuse the unsavvy user to embrace and not just fear this technology. A series of videos driven by AI which will highlight the common problems and suggest the valid intuitive solutions, driven by appropriate knowledge. In an extreme case, a ‘Teams Certified Professional’, available on Urban Company, who will take a small fee to give the entire family, whether school or office, a necessary tutorial. Small booklets, in familiar printed dimensions, which will assure the deeply suspicious that this is indeed continuity and not change. The basic customer insight being that the end user needs to be familiarised and wooed and treated like the primary and not tertiary candidate, after the deal is signed. None of the above can be chargeable and must be considered as loyalty generation investment.
Most sensible advocates of new-age marketing, including me, have been unabashed advocates of customer centricity, which is neither rocket science nor mumbo jumbo. It is simply an integrated cultural orientation of an organisation which applauds and tracks the experiences of end users as the key viagra for sustainable business. As an act of common sense and not necessarily extra-terrestrial intelligence in case you were still wondering. Please pamper the CXO suite and the administrators for selling the technology but do realise that the final consumers must be respected, satisfied and indeed delighted.
It truly amazes me how such large corporations led by stupendous stalwarts miss such obvious strategies, blinded certainly by the arrogance of technological superiority which is frankly rather irrelevant. Unless it makes a significant difference to the lives of you and me through access mechanisms that are brutally simple and inspiring.
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