The electronic transformation started with the Internet. However, as one writer says, “The Internet isn’t a revolution; it simply revolutionizes the way we send and receive information. People now focus more on the information on the Internet than information about the Internet.”
What does this mean for the Internet’s place in helping us to empower customers? You can use your Internet communications to involve your customers, rewarding them, and using dialog to let them control the relationship. When customers come to your website, they have chosen to come and have given you permission to communicate with them. This new communication opportunity is about trust.
How do you use the Internet for CMR? Build dynamic websites that will create dialog, will work for the customer, and will build trust. This goal is not easy to achieve, since, according to a survey by Forrester Research, only 14 percent of adults trust ads that appear on the Internet. This figure is opposed to 30 percent for magazine ads, 25 percent for radio, 23 percent for TV, and 18 percent for direct mail.
The longevity of the medium correlates directly to its perceived trustworthiness. Newspapers are the oldest medium; the Internet is the newest. While direct mail has been around for at least 130 years, its ease of use makes it available to less-than-honest hawkers and has compromised its credibility. So, it takes more than longevity to build trust. Trust is developed by customer experiences.
The Bridgestone/Firestone success story in Chapter 12 was the result of the company learning that customers determine where to have a vehicle serviced, in large part, on the trust factor. To help create trust, Bridgestone/Firestone store managers send personal e-mail communications to customers after each service visit. The notes provide helpful information to customers about what can go wrong with their vehicles, with the goal of avoiding major repairs. It was this trust, built upon past experiences, that reinforced the relationship between customers and stores and kept customers loyal to the Firestone brand during the tire recall.
Blake Rohhrbacher, “As Users Get Smarter, Marketers Must Keep Up,” clickz.com, February 26, 2002, p. 1.
James R. Rosenfeld, “Lies, Damned Lies, and Internet Statistics,” Direct Marketing, November 2001, p. 61.