There should be a different kind of CES

Hate-yelpDid you know that, according to a new survey, 33 percent of consumers who have ONE bad experience with a product or service will completely stop their spending with the company? Or that a whopping three-fourths will end their interactions completely after a company does a poor job of attempting to re-establish the broken relationship? (Insert link).

The survey of 5,000 consumers by Temkin Group should be a real wake-up call for companies displaying their latest shiny objects at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week.

There's no question we LOVE new technology. Indeed, many of the network newscasters were positively drooling this morning over the flatest of flat screens, the coolest of cool new iPhone Apps and the tiniest of tiny cell phones being unveiled by manufacturers.

Those stories are the result of tireless efforts by the manufacturers' PR firms to whet the media's appetite. That's our job, and we do it well.

But, after that, we lose control. Why? Because customer experience is the REAL PR.

While the media may wax poetic about the latest features or benefits, Joe and Jane Customer simply don't care. They just want the new gizmo to do what it promises to do. (And they want to enjoy the experience. Period)

And, guess what? Joe and Jane are lightning quick to blog or Tweet about products, services and companies they don't like. Temkin says the use of Twitter to communicate about a bad experience more than DOUBLED last year. That's a whole lot of unhappiness.

According to the report, Best Buy, QVC, Gap and eBay have the worst customer experiences (Note to CES exhibitors: that's where many consumers first experience your shiny new objects).

Cox Communications, Symantec, ING Direct and TracPhone have the most negatively-worded comments on Facebook. And get this, GE and Verizon are MOST likely to have negatively based Tweets. It just goes to show the biggest PR and advertising budgets won't offset a lousy customer experience.

Some visionary companies do GET the connection between marketing, product design and customer service. Some have even created in-house councils to assure that nothing is introduced to the public before the end user experience is tested again and again and, critically, that the customer service representatives and PR types team-up to create authentic messaging that correctly describes the experience the consumer is about to have.

Right now, the chasm between PR and customer service in most Fortune 500 corporations makes the Grand Canyon look like a pothole.

That's why I'm advocating for a new type of CES. In my version, the acronym would stand for Customer Experience Show, and the trade show booths wouldn't be manned by product managers and sales types. Instead, they'd feature end-users who have been selected to experience the shiny new object IN ADVANCE and adore it.

After all, who cares whether the newest flat screen TV is thinner than a dime if the picture quality stinks?

It's high time PR steps up to the plate and begins advocating for a more strategic role in settings such as CES. We need to be part of an advance team that assures the new product's customer experience is flawless from the get-go (and that we can publicize those sentiments). Otherwise we'll be left doing what we many of us do today: trumpet the new gizmo and then duck and cover as all the negative Facebook comments and Tweets pile up on social media channels.

And a tip of Repman's hat to George Rosenberg for suggesting this post.

2 thoughts on “There should be a different kind of CES

  1. I hope more people use Yelp and Twitter to voice their dismay at the disgraceful customer service many of us receive at some of the biggest companies in the U.S. Social media is the great equalizer; corporations should take note.

  2. Trust me, Julie. Corporations DO take note. But, they see negative comments on social media channels as a nuisance they’d like to see disappear. Hence, rather than fixing the product or service flaw they rely, instead, on PR to fix what’s been broken. Needless to say, that’s completely backwards, but neither corp comm execs nor their agency partners have the power, commitment or intestinal fortitude to fix what’s broken.