Food for thought

As the end of the year draws nearer and resolutions are being made, we would like to give you some food for thought, to accompany the various meals that the current weeks are probably filled with. As usual, the Holiday period is loaded with piles of gifts and heaps of actions for charities. So let’s delve a bit deeper into these two and their connection to customer friendliness and tribes.

written by Sandy | December 30, 2018


The gift of customer friendliness

Doesn’t it sound familiar: receiving a present in the Holiday period and actually not being overly happy with it? Which makes you decide to return the gift to the shop, in order to exchange it for a refund or for something you like better. So, as a client, you get in touch with the shop - either by going there in person, by calling them, or by contacting them online. And they start engaging with you, their customer. This is a seemingly everyday and normal interaction. However, it got us thinking about customer friendliness, and we would like to invite you to think along.

It’s a known saying that “the client is King” and a lot of companies hence still refrain from saying “no” to their clients. Nevertheless, we wonder whether it is really such a good idea to always say yes to your clients, no matter what. Always saying yes and giving in to what your client wants is considered the epitome of customer-friendliness. But does this result in your client being equally friendly and respectful towards you? Doesn’t always saying yes result in clients appropriating things, and thinking they are always entitled to this level of service, no matter what? Is it worth it always giving your clients what they ask? Does customer friendliness by always saying yes always result in ‘client-friendliness’? These are the questions we like to ask ourselves at a moment when customer service departments everywhere are being flooded with requests and complaints. Have you already figured out how you will respond, both as a company, as well as as a client?

Nevertheless, we wonder whether it is really such a good idea to always say yes to your clients, no matter what.Sandy

Charitable tribes

The period leading up to the Holidays also sees an increase in activities around charities. On Christmas markets, on shopping streets, in advertising, going door to door… There seem to be a lot more actions going on for the good cause, and people might just be more willing to share. ’Tis the season after all, right?

In Flanders, we’ve seen “de Warmste week” being organised in the week leading up to Christmas: a radio station organises a marathon broadcast of a week with their radio hosts camping out on a terrain where a lot of activities and even concerts of national and international bands are organised, all to raise money for charities. You read that right: charities, not one specific charity, as everyone gets to decide for themselves to which charity they donate their contribution. People are encouraged to organise actions for a charity of their choice, and they get to present what they did and how much money they raised live on radio during the week of the marathon broadcast. People from different places and layers of society all come together to organise actions, buy a record to be played during the broadcast, attend concerts, etc., and all in the name of charity.

The above is a striking example of how a tribe has been formed around this week. This event didn’t start as a huge success, it started out as a new and original initiative by a radio station that wanted to raise money and awareness for one specific charity. Over the years, the event has grown and changed locations, and they also changed their concept from being focused on one charity into being one big compilation of charities. It has become almost like an event, and their main symbol, a flame, is one that people recognise and that even gets sold in different forms like cookies, pins or wrapping paper, for charity. “De Warmste week” has become an identity, it has become a tribe, and the tribe members all have their own motivations and personal stories for donating to a charity. Instead of a corporate brand or the brand of one specific NGO, “De Warmste week” is now a tribe around being charitable, contributing to charity during the Holiday period, and even though every tribe member may contribute to different charities and have different stories, they all feel unified within the same group with the flame as their symbol.

Is this way of building a tribe around something broader than a brand worth investigating for other, similar causes? Might it become a thin line of people growing tired of this kind of tribe behaviour, of people feeling forced to be a tribe member? Can tribal thinking contribute positively to movements like this in society? Or can it also feel forced, and not genuine? Will tribal thinking rise above its use for brands and societies, or will individualism prove stronger? And will the formation of tribes always work? 



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