Do you build satisfaction or happiness?

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 13.08.50Not all brands, not all industries, are able to use social media as a brand builder in the same way.

I see sweeping general statements in many books, blogs and articles about social media that make me cringe as a customer. The latest was “Customers seek identification with their brands”, do we? Maybe I’m weird but I don’t. Or rather I only identify with a tiny subset of the brands I use.

I can remember listening to a presentation by the Lego’s Global Social Media Director, Lars Silberbauer, talking about all the fun things they’ve done, and the way that customers are using lego in innovative ways. I looked longingly at the examples, and seriously doubted that the financial company I worked for could ever do this. I wrote then about two factors of social media motivation.

I likened it to Herzberg’s two factors of motivation, and came up with a simple diagram linking the factors to levels of engagement. I’ve been rethinking that a little, I think some brand are satisfaction builders and some are happiness builders. So which one are you?

Satisfaction builders

You are a satisfaction builder if when your products and services work correctly customers don’t talk about you, if something goes wrong they do – and everyone piles on.

For example, a bank customer might appreciate that their application for a loan of several thousand euros was approved quickly but not want to discuss it on facebook. But if they’re stuck at the supermarket unable to use their card for a transaction of 120 euro, a much smaller transaction, they have access to complain immediately via their mobile phone.

I put infrastructure (including mobile phone networks), financial services, public or government services and grocery staples into this category.

The brand is not part of the customers identity and customer stays due to high switching costs or apathy, rather than brand loyalty.

Happiness builders

You are a happiness builder if when your products and services work correctly customers talk about you, if something goes wrong they forgive you quickly and sometimes publicly. Other customers will support you during a crisis.

For example, everybody loves Lego. The most common complaint about Lego is the pain of standing on an abandoned piece, which is  usually told as a cute story. Even when Lego came in for stronger criticism around sexism in its minifigs or its advertising the criticism was focused on improving the company rather than outright anger. Even those campaigning for change seem to trust that Lego would find a good solution.

Fashion, personal grooming and leisure industries are in this category. For many people cars, computing, home accessories – some people really love their coffee machines – are also included.

Context Matters

Many companies will have some customers who see them as satisfiers and others who see them as happiness makers. They may also have customers who see them differently depending on the context.

My phone is well-loved and well-used, you can tell by the state of the cover. My mother doesn’t care about the phone she has; both phones are the same brand and almost the same model.

Computers are satisfiers for lots of people, but part of happiness and even personal brand for many (try saying you hate apple on certain forums).

Even an indvidual customer may say the brand differently depending on context. Mostly airlines are happiness for me, I associate them with holidays and seeing friends and family. If I travel for work they become more of a satisfier.

Of course a brand can move from happiness to satisfier during, for example, a crisis. Or from satisfier to happiness under positive circumstances, but a sustained shift in this direction will be challenging. It will require more than action in social media.

Look around your house for the brands you own – where are they on the spectrum? which ones do you seek out on social media?

Image; Smiley Egg Head / The Monnie / CC BY-SA 2.0

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