Forming and nurturing good relationships between a company and its customer base is the one of the most vital and effective actions a company can take to ensure their success. Promotional engagement of a company or brand is an effective marketing strategy as it directly engages consumers; the consumers can see their in-put from the changes the company has adopted and a relationship between the consumer and company will be developed through this engagement. An example of a company that has begun to change its image through engagement marketing, by listening to their consumers and implementing the changes they have suggested is Ryanair.
Ryanair, the budget airline, has seen its net income double in the second quarter of 2014, rising to £156m. Their chief financial officer Howard Miller has put this down to improvements in customer service. The previously reviled airline company, seems to be turning its image around and attracting new customers that would have previously shunned the company. Within a year Ryanair saw their number of passengers increase by 3% up to 81.7 million. They have put this mostly down to improving customer experience and enhancing their service through many small changes. These include:
- Allocating seats
- Simpler website design
- Free 2nd carry on
- ‘Quiet flights’
- 24 hour grace period for booking errors to be corrected
- Reduced boarding card and bag fees
- A new service for group bookings and corporate travellers
- Families can receive discounts
These are initiatives from the ‘Always Getting Better‘ programme which is hoped to keep increasing the number of Ryanair passengers and expand their customer base to encompass corporate travel and business customers. So maybe good customer service really is all it takes to be successful. Ryanair was previously known for its extremely cheap flights but terrible customer service (there are many horror stories circulating about the service of the Ryanair airline and it was even been cited as the worst brand for customer service in 2013), but now it seems to be turning its image around, keeping its low cost flights and improving its other services to really compete with other budget airlines. Although, it may take some time to see how effective this customer service reform is in the long term on their image as a budget airline; there seems to be a lot of negativity to dispel first.
The QRi Team x
The future of Cars
As environmental awareness is taking hold of the world, with countries introducing road taxes and Eco-taxes on cities and countries, Eco-vehicles should be an attractive alternative to petrol and diesel fueled cars. This should be especially true in the biggest and most populated cities, (bad pollution in Beijing even led to the fabrication of stories about pollution being so bad that the sunrise was played on screens across the city just so that people know it is daytime, this was not true but it raised important issues about pollution in the city).
According to ChinaAuto, electric vehicle (EV) sales in China rose by 37.9% in 2013, leading to the assumption that people are becoming more Eco-friendly, wanting to take care of their environment. But the number of plug-in EV’s sold in China, barely scratches the surface of the total number of vehicles sold (of the 21.98 million new vehicle sales only 17,600 vehicles made were plug-in EV’s), and with the population booming across the world, these figures seem low.
Electric Car sales in Europe are currently quite strong looking at the percentages – but the actual sales are, as with China, relatively small, with only 38,617 sales of battery and plug-in hybrids. This is up from previous years, although not by much. Despite the exemption from road taxes and the good feeling people get when doing something good for the environment, sales of Eco-cars are surprisingly low. This may be due to a number of factors.
Firstly, most people would expect the cost of the car to be cheaper than their petrol and diesel counterparts, but this is not true, as they often cost up to twice as much, even after government subsidies in some countries.
Secondly, people have fears about how far an electric car can run before needing to be recharged, and also, worry about recharge time.
Thirdly, there is still a distinct lack of charging facilities available, so it may simply be a fear of being stranded with nowhere nearby to recharge that is preventing people from buying Eco-cars.
It seems that sales of electric cars are directly linked to the amount of subsidies and road tax exemptions each government allows. Holland and Norway are two of the highest selling countries of EV’s and they are also the most generous with subsidies, road tax exemption, free toll roads, free parking, and using the bus lanes. People want the best they can get for as little as possible, so countries such as Germany, where the government does not subsidise EV’s and appear to be lagging behind countries such as Holland and Norway.
Unfortunately, being good for the environment does not seem to be a very important factor in most people’s decisions when buying cars, and while most would probably admit that it would be nice to drive around guilt free, they like to stick to what they know and trust.
However, the innovation of electric, hybrid and fuel cell cars is still in its infancy, and with every New Year surprises will be in store. And with this age’s fascination for new technology, and society’s need to have the newest gadgets, it may just be a matter of waiting. So maybe in years to come, electric cars will be the only cars on the roads.
The QRi team x
Social media: the word of mouth platforms
Word of mouth marketing is different from naturally occurring word of mouth as it is actively influenced and encouraged by organisations. It makes sense that if one person told two people about this great company, product or brand, and these two people then each went off and told two more people about it, and so on, pretty quickly a large number of people know about it and more importantly, are talking about it.
Now, if one person posts about this great company/brand/product on social media, instantly potentially hundreds of people will see this – exponentially increasing the speed at which people are becoming exposed to it.
This concept is nothing new or revolutionary, but it is effective – especially when trying to reach the younger generations like Generation Y (or Generation Why? as some are prone to call them).
The reason that social media is so important and effective in word of mouth marketing, aside from the swift dispersal of information (which can happen across social media platforms), is that companies can take things even further by creating a dialogue between themselves and their customers on a more informal basis.
This informal connection is what helps build positive relationships with consumers. Don’t believe me? Check out some tweets by Taco Bell:
Tweets like these have gone viral on the internet, creating a positive vibe and a friendly atmosphere between the company and its customers and potential customers.
In most cases, positive comments being passed along are the prime objective of companies encouraging word of mouth marketing. However, not all companies have the business acumen to encourage these positive comments though social media. A prime example of this is Amy’s Baking Company, brought into the limelight by Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares (approximately 3.34 million people watched the episode).
The first mistake they made was being rude (to put it lightly) to their customers (and on TV!), who then went and talked about their experience online. A flood of online reviews and social media activity meant that the moment that episode was aired, foodies around the world were talking about the horror that was ‘Amy’s Baking Company’. This led to their second BIG mistake, they engaged with their (ex-) customers in an incredibly negative way, leading to a media uproar and reinforcing the already negative image they had. Now they have turned into a tourist destination, almost like a zoo, where people go to gawk rather than enjoy food.
I certainly wouldn’t follow suit.
But if you can build up a positive rapport between company and consumer, you are building a relationship that is reinforced from both sides, and the more a consumer interacts with you, the better you can understand them. And the better you understand your customers the more you can improve your services and branding, creating a positive synergistic relationship.
The QRi Team x