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Testing designed to annoy customers redux

About a year ago, I was upset by a company that blamed its annoying behavior toward customers on “market testing.” Well, I just ran into another one. I won’t name them because they have otherwise provided very good service, but this was just a weird situation that needs to be discussed. If you recognize this as your company, please fix it, but all of us should examine our customer testing with fresh eyes to make sure that we are focused on customer relationships rather than doing a good test.


It all started with a text message to my wife’s cell phone.
Linda was expecting a delivery the next day. Unlike many annoying companies, this one actually committed to a two-hour window based on our schedule. (Why is this so rare?) So, already we were happier than usual with the delivery experience.
Then came that text message to Linda’s cell phone confirming the delivery time. Neat idea, right? Yes, but the message had a completely different delivery time than the one we agreed on. So now, what should have been a nice customer communications approach becomes a problem, because Linda must now call to make find out which delivery time is correct.
So, she worked her way through the phone menu to eventually get human being on the line. She explained the situation, but the customer service people knew nothing about it, insisting that their company could not have sent that text message. “We don’t even have your cell phone number.” Linda knew they did, however, because they had once called her on her phone.
First, the good news: “Your delivery is still coming at the correct time.”
Well, great, but why was the text message wrong? After a lot of waiting and conferring with multiple people, we got the answer: “We sent them out with the wrong times on purpose because otherwise you won’t call so we won’t know the message was received.”
You’re kidding, right? This is the way you test?
We’ve all got to remember that the most important reason to test anything is to serve your customers better. If you’re annoying your customers in the hopes of building a better relationship, stop testing now and start thinking about what you should really be doing.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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