Words such as "loyalty", "engagement", "community", and "experience" describe a largely false relationship between customers and organizations.

"The IBM Institute for Business Value found that 60-65% of business leaders believe that consumers follow their brands on social media sites because they want to be a part of a community," Patrick Spenner, wrote in Forbes in July 2012. "Only 25-30% of consumers agree. The top reason consumers follow a brand? To get discounts - not exactly ideal for a company's bottom line."

We have noticed in our research that many customers go to social media sites to complain. When they are really ticked off about an organization they use social media to broadcast that annoyance.

Most normal people don't want to be part of the Coca Cola or Pepsi communities. Organizations have abused words such as "community" and "loyalty" for a long time.

There's a need to get real.

Years ago there was a craze called "sticky marketing". It was all about "engagement" and "experience". Bringing people back again and again to the website, having them look at lots and lots of pages. But let's face it, who wants to be "stuck" on a website?

Imagine Tom and Sherri who have been married twenty years. It's their anniversary and they're reminiscing. "I remember the first morning on our honeymoon," Sherri says. "How we walked barefoot on the beach and bought hot scones close to the pier." Tom laughs as he replies. "Yes! Yes! But the best part of the whole experience was booking the flight. I still remember the design of that website!"

According to Spenner, "marketers are generally pushing out too much information, causing people to over-think purchase decisions and making them more likely to change their minds about a product, be less confident in their choice and less likely to remain loyal to the brand.

"So what should marketers do? Here at Corporate Executive Board, we surveyed more than 7,000 consumers and interviewed 200 marketing executives across consumer brands and industries to find out.

The answer: Simplify the decision-making process, so much so that consumers actually think less about the decision. Marketers can do that in three easy ways by helping consumers:

  1. Trust the information they receive -- providing recommendations by consumer advisors, ratings and reviews.
  2. Learn effectively without distraction -- simplifying the research process by offering clear and streamlined brand-specific product information targeted to each decision stage.
  3. Weigh options confidently -- making transparent buying guides and brand- differentiated information easily available.

The Corporate Executive Board 5-year study also found that the more effort a customer has to make in interacting with you, the more they are likely to leave for a competitor. Most customers don't want to be "delighted". They just want to get the job done as quickly as possible.