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Your Attention, Please

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John Hagel led an interesting session on Attention. (This was at a much higher level the Steve Gillmor’s Attention conversations.) The pitch:

Old scarce resource: Shelf space
New scarce resource: Time and attention

In this context, Hagel gave his “Three A’s” of Attention:

  • Attract – have customers seek you out
  • Assist – how do you assist customers, pre and post purchase?
  • Affiliate – mobilize complementary resources to deliver more value

The winners, Hagel argues, are the organizations that have the ability to orchestrate large array of resources.

He also argued the “brand promise” change that is occurring:

  • Old brand promise: “We have a great product,” or “We are a great vendor”
  • New brand promise: “I know you, better than anyone else. You can trust me, and us.”

A very interesting insight…customers have an attention deficit as well. In other words, attention cuts both ways. Not only does the vendor desire the customer’s attention, but it’s critical that the customer can get the vendor’s attention as well. (Case in point? Think about the last time you tried to “pound out” of an interactive voicemail system and wanted the attention of a real person…)

I was fortunate enough to facilitate a session as part of the talk, and our group came up with four key insights:

1) We discussed the Edelman Trust Barometer, and that the most trusted person is “a person like me.” Attention is given to those who are trusted. Ergo…determining affinity between vendor and customer, or members of a customer community, is a critical precondition in gaining trust. Those who are trusted get the attention.

2) Scarcity and exclusivity may focus attention. (Think about the “red velvet rope” at the trendy club of your choice.) The flipside of this is that exclusivity, especially fake exclusivity, is fashion and the attention fades once the bloom is off the rose.

3) There may be cases where attention is contextual (John Winsor said this very well during the session). The degree of a attention given to a particular vendor, customer or situation will also be affected by the competing alternatives for that attention at that moment in time.

4) The biggest “a-ha!” that our group arrived at was that attention between vendor and customer is not always symmetric. In other words, there are times when a customer is giving a great deal of attention to the vendor (“I have a critical issue and need to fix this right now!”) and the vendor is giving little or no human attention to the customer (“Thank you for your call…your call is very important to us…your average wait time is ’10′ minutes…fade to Girl from Ipanema…”).

Based on (4), above, we hit on the big idea of the day. Our group hypothesized that when there is an attention gap between the attention being given by the customer to the vendor vs. the attention being given by the vendor to the customer, the customer gets frustrated and becomes dissatisfied with the relationship.

Does your organization give as much attention to its customers as they give to it?

Related: On Time, Attention and Marketing

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Christopher Carfi, CEO and co-founder of Cerado, looks at sales, marketing, and the business experience from the customers point of view. He currently is focused on understanding how emerging social technologies such as blogs, wikis, and social networking are enabling the creation of new types of customer-driven communities. He is the author of the Social Customer Manifesto weblog, and has been occasionally told that he drives and snowboards just a little too quickly.

Your Attention, Please
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About Christopher Carfi
Christopher Carfi, CEO and co-founder of Cerado, looks at sales, marketing, and the business experience from the customers point of view. He currently is focused on understanding how emerging social technologies such as blogs, wikis, and social networking are enabling the creation of new types of customer-driven communities. He is the author of the Social Customer Manifesto weblog, and has been occasionally told that he drives and snowboards just a little too quickly. WebProNews Writer
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