Private Beta ready

Finally!

The Blacklist Private beta is ready!

Go check it out at Blacklist.co and register with your email.
We’ll then send you an invite linke where you’ll be able to sign in via Twitter.

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There you go, you can now Blacklist brands & products you dislike or had a bad experience with, and also search for any brand page from anywhere in the app.
From there you can share, vote up or down and flagg other people’s posts (Blacklist) and share or delete yours.

Start now, get heard thanks to Blacklist and share, as a “Digital Megaphone” that leverages your voice and extend your reach so that you have a better chance to get heard and impact accordingly.

The 10 tenets of Customer relationship

1) Companies lose on average, half of their customers on a five-year period

2) It costs five times more to attract a customer than to keep one…

3) 98% of dissatisfied customers who leave, never expressed dissatisfaction

4) A 5% increase in customer loyalty is advancing profits by 50% on average (between 30 and 80% depending on the business)

5) Without innovation (product – services), 30% of your ‘satisfied’ customer will you leave each year

6) One being “very satisfied / every time” is a customer loyalty

7) Loyalty is the cumulative satisfaction

8) A satisfied customer tells two people and a dissatisfied customer tells 10 (factor of 5)

9) On the web, you can multiply the above figures by 100!

10) In all companies, 20% of customers account for 80% of the profits: identify them and retain them!

Numbers game

In case you’re wondering whether or not your brand should respond to their feedback, regardless if they are positive or negative, let’s analyze some interesting numbers.

First, according to a study done by The Retail Consumer Report in 2011, 68% of consumers that posted a complaint or a negative comment on social networking sites, about their negative experiences, got a response from the retailer. From that, 18% of them turned into loyal customers and bought even more. If you think it ends there, hold on. 33% of them turned around and posted a positive review after that, and 34% of them deleted their negative review that they had left earlier.

This shows that, if handled properly, negative feedback can indeed be a powerful tool to gain loyalty from your customers and enhancing, not only their experience with your brand, but also the experience of other customers who view your brand’s online persona – since they would be reading some of the positive reviews that the returning 33% had posted.

Still today companies are slow and not adapting as they should. New research from customer service company Genesys finds that when it comes to reaching out to their customers online, over half of consumer-facing Fortune 500 companies are “socially shy.”

On the contact pages of their website, more than half of these companies don’t provide their Twitter handle or a link to their Facebook pages; and 27 % don’t provide links to their Twitter or Facebook profiles anywhere on their websites at all.

Another surprising finding of Genesys’s study is that 90% of the companies they studied didn’t provide an email address in their contact pages. Instead, about 83% of them had a contact form – something they note consumers see as a “black hole” and tend to avoid using.

The customer doesn’t see the brand as a series of departments it sees it as a single, unified entity. Therefore, as a business structures itself for engagement, it must work as one entity, externally and internally. The problem is that most businesses are not built or working this way today. They are more work-around the traditional sales funnel and the oneway (commercial) message to the crowd.

Startups.fm article on Blacklist

Here’s an interview just published on Startups.fm about Blacklist app that’s coming up soon!

Blacklist is the powerful megaphone to vent out bad consumer experience and get heard

Blacklist-app

Blacklist is the powerful megaphone for people to react after a bad consumer experience to get their voice heard. Blacklist’s innovative, yet disruptive solution offers the power to the people to express themselves on their brand experience.

The aim is to ease the consumer feedback anywhere and anytime to bring brands closer for a more aligned interaction. The concept positions itself as a destination on the web deployed across platforms that leverages the voices of individuals and their reach to impact accordingly.

Blacklist started the summer of 2012 after writing the book ‘The Power to the People’ as a bold approach to tackle this vision and opportunity. Val Lefebvre, the Founder of @Blacklist and the Author of “The Power to the People” spoke to StartupsFM on how Blacklist is empowering consumers.

After several very frustrating experiences with brands (Orange & Galeries Lafayettes) I thought: “It’s 2011 and I have no easy way to react on those bad consumer experiences!?” So I went on to think and research how could this be changed. It’s well know that when you’re a happy customer you tell 3 maybe 5 people, and when you’re pissed you want to tell the whole world. Well Blacklist is the tool that helps you do exactly that.

Blacklist aims to be the destination online for people to react and complain on their bad consumer experiences

When you had a bad consumer experience you’re frustrated and you want to release this pain. The easiest way to do that is by expressing yourself, and today people use the web to spread out their voice beyond their friends and family.

Blacklist is a digital megaphone

If you think of Blacklist as a digital megaphone, it leverages your voice and extends your reach online. What this means to you, as a user is that your post on Blacklist will always be deployed across platform and reach more people. It’s about increasing the chance to get heard and impact accordingly. If you just post in a lonely forum or website, if you post on Facebook but you don’t have many friends, if you tweet but don’t have many followers or put the correct handle or hashtag, your feedback won’t get heard as much as if you post on Blacklist that is then deployed on Facebook and twitter. Here’s the thing people can access and see Blacklist from the web, from Facebook as an app and from twitter retweeting everything. It’s really about distribution and better reach.

Bring more transparency in the interactions between consumers and brands

So yes, the whole idea behind this movement is to bring more transparency in the interactions between consumers and brands. Indeed we would all benefit from more aligned interactions from the company to the people, and I think a disruptive approach is the best chance to achieve that. We aim to offer the opportunity for brands to have be presence on our platform to listen, acknowledge and respond, effectively engage with people to improve and correct themselves faster.

On starting up Blacklist

So it’s still early and we are in a stealth mode where we have hundred of testers that play around with the core product. The distribution will be focus around social media channels mainly and then from other sources like SEO and Guerrilla marketing. We have many things planned and we are going to test and experiment a lot soon.

I came to London this end of summer to be part of the best European Startup eco-system. It’s been a great decision so far as London is a dynamic city and a lot is going on, including in the Startup world. Especially the Google Campus provides a great community, along with Central Working they are vibrant and very important here for any person in the Startup world.

Challenges as an entrepreneur to work on a disruptive idea

The challenges are many, and I have to say the biggest is the money (ie: London is a very expensive city, and also the competition on the market for tech people is very tough).

Yes I’m still bootstrapping and it is really tough in London, the market is very competitive and opportunities are all over the place so rolling through without financial support is definitely a challenge. I am building some interesting connections among people that have money and valuable connections, funding will be an important boost for Blacklist.

Coming soon

Blacklist is still not released yet, as we’re working on a good core version at the moment. The product will be ready soon and early birds will be able to able to use it before hand to leverage their importance and the power of their feedback. Be sure to signup so we can invite you among the early users.

Follow Blacklist everywhere

Defining Defensive Marketing Part 1

In this post I’m introducing a graphic that explains the term ‘Defensive Marketing’.
This visual is meant to sum up the journey of the interactions in the consumer experience.
The Graphic gives us a glance of what’s going on and I will drill down point by point what it really means and give you more explanations along the way.

Let’s start at the beginning: the consumer experience.
It’s about a purchasing experience with a brand, a product or a service.
The consumer/user/client has some sort of interaction with the entity delivering this experience.
This one experience usually falls into two distinct bucket: Good or Bad.
side-note: Obviously there’s the in-between, referring to ‘normal’ but this one doesn’t interest nobody so it’s not relevant to talk about it.

Let’s start with the good one.seedsgrow
Usually the consumer considers that it’s normal that the experience he gets from his purchase is a ‘good’ one. He made a choice to pick one precise product, service, brand. Thus the ‘goodness’ was expected, it was planned as he offered his time/money/commitment in exchange of it.
So far, so good.
The next step is to talk about it, in a good way. Some naturally open and social people like to talk about their experience to others. Also a great experience encourages people to talk about it and share it. There are several reasons for that: Ego, social capital and recognition from peers to position oneself as a value-provider and a wise person (in his choices) are strong elements that drives this behavior.

This leads us to the following logical step which is recommendation.
We feel like recommending and referring to people we know, the good experience we had. It’s a way to ‘share the good’. Again, here one feels valued and recognized when he recommends a good experience to another, implicitly gladly offering value.
The last step is for the consumer to love so much the product, service, brand that he feels like connecting with the entity responsible for it: compagnie/brand. He engages in a positive way to cheer and praise the brand, wanting to thank them and show some love. This behavior is pushed by the feeling of granting a lot of value and ‘good’ from the purchase, that we feel like giving back. In other word it’s the law of influence called ‘reciprocity’ (coined by R. Cialdini).

All of those scenarios above are good and favorable to brands and companies. Indeed it’s all sort of positive word-of-mouth; the ‘grandaddy’ of the factors that drives success in business.
Thus brands are pushing hard on that front and trying to show off as much as they can that it’s the case for them (more than their competitors) in order to grow and prosper.
It’s free, it’s easy and it’s immensely rewarding.reputation-management1
So what brands only need to do is get themselves in front of people that are ready/willing to buy their products & services, right? And there you go, we’re talking about marketing now:
The art of putting oneself in front of a segment of population that is the most likely to engage, use, buy what the brand can offer to them.
Companies understood that, and we all know how hard they push on it this front. It has indeed become a multi-billion dollar industry on its own. Some big brands spend Billions of dollars every year to create awareness and get in front of people in order to grow sales/revenues.

Ok, now let’s see the bad experience.643603
Most people have a lot of bad consumer experience on a regular basis. They start to get used to it, and they are not so much offended by it anymore. We call them ‘loyal customers’ as they don’t turn their back to those brand, products, and service; and continue to purchase them regardless of the previous bad experience with them. This is often cause by several factors like: the lack of education, experience, purchasing power and knowledge (of the choices/options).
The biggest reason, most people ‘don’t do anything’ after a bad consumer experience.
What happens is that they weigh the cost/benefit of doing something about it (ie:complaining) vs doing nothing about it (ie: not complaining).
The fact that most people don’t really know how, when, where and whom to complain to, discourage many to actually complain at all. So what most people choose is just to boycott (ie: don’t buy the same thing anymore) like a silent exist.
That’s why we only have -believe it or not- a small percentage of people that are actually complaining (online or offline). We call it the Iceberg of complaints, which we’ll talk about just bellow.
Now it is important to note that, going back to our belief that a good experience is expected and considered as normal, the natural feeling while experiencing a bad one, is to feel like it’s not normal and that we are frustrated in some way, especially because we spent money on it.

That feeling of frustration is the single most important drive of consumer experiences complaint from today in our consumer-oriented society.
So we have a frustration inside from a bad consumer experience, feeling we’ve been ‘mistreated’ in some way, not getting the value for our money.
What do we do from there? Well, the natural human reaction, while having frustration inside is to release it; and we know the easiest way to release an inner-frustration is to express ourselves about it, hence talk about it.
Here we go, that’s why people complain and criticize continually, as a mean to get it out of their head, and release that bad feeling.
The anger is expressed first of all to our closest circle of social connections, our family and friends.yelling_into_phoneThe next step is to spread it out beyond that closed circle of few (aka friends and family), to our peers and the rest of our social connections. That’s usually when people go online.

Here is an interesting point, which is the feeling of having to tell more and more people about this bad experience, and feeling of anger against a product, service and brand. There’s some kind of duty in telling others, in order to prevent them to be in your situation. It’s a sort of anticipated empathy to others, sharing your experience to help them have better ones in the future. It’s implicit, but very accurate nonetheless, and most people admit that they feel like wanting to prevent others to feel frustrated like them, and in this process they feel better performing a ‘good social act’… interestingly enough.

The last degree in this ‘bad experience’ reaction from the consumer, is to engage with the brand to ‘fight’.fist-512x383 Indeed some people feel so frustrated, mistreated and screwed that they are going to pursue some kind of ‘reparation/revenge’ or said it another way, ‘want their money back’ whatever the currency. This pay-back may be only an apology, a recognition, an acknowledgement, or a capital gain to excuse the whole story. That’s why we see so much ‘voucher’ offered from the customer service, a discount or a special offer just to show off empathy and offer back a capital compensation to the consumer.

In the next blog post we will see what are the reasons that drive most people do complain.

The Goliath effect

‘The Goliath effect’ is a famous concept whereby one position itself as the small victim that is being misslead by the giant vilain (Goliath).
Today we see this concept applied and used in many forms and many different ways.
For example, in social media, people can use it to fight, react or respond against something they think is wrong, or hurting them in some way.

David & Goliath (sumos example)

David & Goliath (sumos example)

The principle is that you as the victim can’t do much against the vilain, but want the wronging to stop. The only thing you can do is to alert many other people about this injustice to spread this idea far enough in order to get as much people together to actually apply pressure and have a chance to stop the wronging happening (to the victim).

And so if you believe that the victim should be saved from the vilain, this idea has a strong potential to get spread… and work.

Dan Zarella, the ‘Social Media Scientist‘ from Hubspot gave a keynote presentation at Harvad recently where he took a case on Twitter where he positioned himself as the victime being abused by a vilain:
The vilain is wronging the victim

@Danzarella did not like the changes twitter was going to apply to their retweet policy.
Thus he wrote a post on his blog ‘Twitter plans to Mangle ReTweets #SaveReTweets
So Twitter was the Vilain and Mangling was the wronging and Retweets was the victim.
This blog post got shared (and retweeted) by a lot of people, simply because: Danzarella is no bigger than Twitter, retweets was something people wanted to save, and the only way to do that was by telling a lot of people about it.

Even Apple, which is regarded as doing a great job at marketing, wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for this structure/concept. Apple has always chased and position itself agains A Vilain.
Be it IBMMicrosoft, The Status Quo and now Android

Who’s your Vilain?

Defensive Marketing

Defensive Marketing is a new terme I coin.

Business and organizations spend Billions every year on their marketing budget. (see infographic of brands advertising spendings)
Of course one can say that this ‘marketing budget’ is not so meaningful as the marketing department is usually hard to define clearly and the borders of it are mainly blur. That’s true. Some people include the advertisement, the customer engagement, the social-media management/monitoring, the promotion campaign… and so on.top-ad-spenders-lrg

Non-the-less a London-based VC once told me: “The Marketing budget of a company has one of the deepest pocket of all, because they’re going after the engagement and the praise of their customers and for that they’re ready to spend blindly!”

So companies are ready to spend wildly for the engagement with their customers, and we know they emphasize a lot on the promotion of their brand, products, and service through advertisement – which is clearly a one way engagement funnel (ie: top-down), right?

Then what about the other way (ie: ground up)? How much attention and resources do they allocate to the road from their consumers to them. How much are they concentrating on the path of the engagement from their customers to them?

Well not as much, that’s for sure…

I believe that we are going to see a re-balance in this Marketing world of ours.
This introducing the ‘Defensive Marketing’ where companies are going to increasingly value the opinion, feedback and messages from their customers on the web.
Indeed, all those ‘posts’ will create massive amount of social data; rich with info about brands, products, and services and the people who interact with them.

By distilling data into specific insights, there’s a great opportunity for deep understanding about consumers : who, what, why, when, where, and how along with who they influence (ie: impact). Businesses will be more and more eager to get those impressions of consumer generated content to glean some edge.

It’s all about getting more savvy about what people are saying on the web regarding brands, products and service (especially their experience with them).
Thus with those valuable metrics in hand, companies can understand, spot, figure out, and comprehend in a new way a lot more about their products and services from the consumer’s perspective; along with the perceived image from the public eye of their company.

The Defensive Marketing of course include also the choices, actions and reactions from organizations taken upon those data analyzed dissected and implemented. Thus the word ‘defensive’, as it’s a way to react, respond, fix, reply and re-engage back with people that are having those conversations on the web. Finally we can boldly claim that this is something that will enable online reputation management, PR crisis and Media backlash handling in a subtle way.

Defensive Marketing, in one catchphrase is about ‘getting smart’

Listening to complaints

It is well known and agreed that companies should listen to online complaints of their customers or other people talking about their brand, product or services; but what about responding?
They should also respond.

Even if they don’t quite have an answer, they should at least let individuals know that they’re listening and are aware of each persons concern because the kind of service that drives people crazy is ‘poor attention’.

According to research from Zendesk 82% of people stop doing business with a company because of poor customer service. And poor attention is in my opinion is where it all starts because nobody likes being ignored.

People having problems with companies and publicly expressing (on Facebook and/or Twitter) their displeasure, is only getting bigger. Though, it’s clear that even internet companies still don’t get it. Which is a shame.

The vast majority of customers do not go public in their complaint unless they have either a) made an attempt at raising the problem without getting satisfaction (therefore make sure that first contact resolution really works!) or
b) they don’t trust the business and/or don’t have sufficient confidence in their ability to put things right.
So we see from that point that the moment customers decide to voice their complaint publicly online, is an open door for the targeted companies to do something about it.

The great point here that brands must understand is that these (online complaints) are actually great opportunities. Indeed it’s a chance for them to come back and respond with resolutions or educational and informational comments that could turn the irate and uneducated customer into a believer, that is then way more likely to praise that same company.

The monitoring of online complaints and responding to those is not a luxury for some big companies, it is a necessity for every company wanting to be successful.

Social Media Monitoring

There is an interesting distortion between the importance that people and organizations give to social media monitoring (in the press) and the way they go about dealing with it (in real life).

“You could say the social media monitoring industry has been the single fastest-growing niche in the world of technology over the past three years. As more companies engage in social media, participate in conversations and launch social media initiatives, the demand to monitor what is being said and analyze that data is critical for companies to not only read and react, but also fund and staff social initiatives.”

Social media marketing is becoming increasingly important to brands as the time consumers spend on social networks continues to increase. However, many companies remain wary of social media, unsure of how to market themselves on social networks or measure the response to their campaigns. Blacklist is aiming to provide some insights about that and track consumer sentiment for brands based on what consumers are saying.

Today, Social media is viewed as a ‘hot trend’ but it’s not (just) a trend, it’s actually part of most companies’ marketing plans now. But businesses need to know how effective social media marketing is. There is a lot of learning happening at this point, and a lot of companies aren’t sure where to go – it takes a bit of a learning curve to actually understand where they have to focus and why they have to use social media – some people just do it because they have to, not because they understand.
Our job is to make organizations understand easily why social media is important and powerful for their image and online reputation.