Tuesday, January 02, 2007

CANON ..... Can Do!!!

One of the benefits of the Christmas / New Year break is that it is a great chance to catch up on some reading. In amongst the recreational reading (I recommend Two Lives by Vikram Seth, the guy who wrote the very successful, very readable, albeit huge, A Suitable Boy) I have also had a chance to catch up on a few magazines.

In the middle of all this, I came across the PC Authority Reliability and Service Awards for 2006. According to the magazine's publishers, over 8,500 consumers submitted opinions on 142 products / services / vendors via an open, online survey. Consumers were able to nominate any vendor / product / service in each category, but for inclusion in the survey sample there needed to be 100 individual responses. Based on what I can deduce from the overview provided in the magazine, this seems to be a pretty good quality survey - responses from consumers are at their own discretion, submitted by themselves without interviewer intervention and the sample sizes have some statistical validity.

Amongst this, the standout vendor for me was Hyro client, Canon . Canon was the winner in three categories (most significantly they won EVERY CATEGORY THEY WERE NOMINATED IN!):
  • Inkject Printers - 94% of over 1800 respondents said they would buy from Canon again (only two products received more than 1,000 respondents in this category)
  • Laser Printers - 94% of respondents said they would buy from Canon again
  • Digital Cameras - 96% of over 1700 respondents (twice as many respondents as the second most rated product) said that they would buy from Canon again.

This, in my opinion, is a remarkable result. There is an old maxim in customer service (badly paraphrased) that a satisfied customer will tell, at most, 4 people about their experience, while a dissatisfied customer will tell 10. In an online survey (where the user must be self-motivated to submit a result) to have that many customers provide responses and for the quality of the responses to be so high is testimony to the serious commitment and tireless effort this company puts into supporting and servicing their clients long after the initial sale.

I like these sorts of surveys - in my experience they usually deliver fairly frank and "pure" results. It is hard to contrive an outcome when the results are collected anonymously and the number of respondents is so high. Canon can take a lot of pride in these results.

There is a lot for other companies to take from this example. While advertising (online and ofline) provides you with an opportunity to express your value, proposition, brand values and more, the online environment provides a real opportunity to LISTEN to what your customers are saying about you. There are lots of examples of the power of the 'blogosphere" to garner consumer action when things aren't right (recall the famous Apple iPod battery campaign which kicked off in blogs in 2004/05). This is a great example of the alternative; customers using the internet to tell you when you are getting things right. The new customer relationship is bi-directional and smart marketers are tapping into positive feedback and customer referral, delivered online, as a means to increase customer loyalty and of course, generate sales.

If you are after a "Digital New Years Resolution" then I commend you to expand your online marketing plans for 2007. Leverage the power of the internet as a bi-directional customer engagement tool - this is one of the very tangible ways that what we do can help to change the world!

Happy New Year and we wish everyone a prosperous, rewarding and digitally enhanced 2007!

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