In marketing, don’t claim to provide “24/7 customer service” if you can’t deliver

Marketing won’t work when what your promise doesn’t deliver. Your marketing promise doesn’t deliver when –

  1. advertising backfires
  2. promotion ideas don’t sell
  3. customer service fails

Of the three, customer service failure seems to be the most difficult to reverse, and probably the most detrimental to any business brand.

Customer service representatives are the frontline soldiers of any brand or company, they are the first to be called when customers need help with a product or service, report issues or provide feedback; they deliver the first and an important impression of a brand in customers’ minds besides the product or service itself. But how often do we get good customer service when we want to inquire about a product? How often do we get all the answers we want when we’re reporting a problem? And how often do we get our problems resolved satisfactorily through customer service?

If the company, service or product is a “monopoly” in its category or geographical region, the marketing/customer service experience tends to be worse, to the point of even being schizophrenic. Schizophrenia happens when a company makes all the promises it wants on TV, in print or online, but customers are feeling disconnected and disengaged when they interact with the company through repeated product/service failures to perpetually bad customer service. (This is when customers started using Twitter and Facebook to share bad experience with companies, products or services.) I think these companies know who they are.

Marketing won’t work in any case with these companies because the fundamental principle of good marketing has been violated – marketing dollars can only be justified and delivered by great customer service. You can spend millions on a TV campaign telling stories of how good a product is, how environmentally concerned a company is, or how lives have been changed through its service to the community, but if customers call and all they get is a “What?”, “I don’t know what you mean”, ” Sorry there’s nothing we can do”, “You gotta calm down ma’am” type of responses, I don’t think these companies will ever get anywhere with their marketing, and they simply cannot justify their marketing spending. Instead of creating a facade of goodwill, diversity, social responsibility or whatever it may be, these companies should seriously dedicate resources to re-training customer service, re-tuning infrastructure, and refining its business philosophy — create a long-term, growing commitment to its customers.

I’ve been placed into a perpetual queue by calling into a utility company‘s 24/7 customer service hotline for almost 45 minutes now…

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Amanda on August 28, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    AMEN SISTER.

    Reply

  2. […] Here’s the phase where you want to make sure customer service is achieving 100% client satisfaction. Customers who want to buy your products or services but are treated with subpar customer service during the transaction might ruin your chances for future engagement (i.e. repeat business) with them. Remember the social conversations that have brought you this point – you’ve built a relationship with your customers! Don’t let that relationship leave you or your brand. Bring it to a higher level. Be 100% certain that you’ve dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s during this phase of transaction. Seize the opportunity as your wedding ceremony (where you give the ring and seal the deal). It should never be a mere thanks-and-goodbye. The word gets out if customer service doesn’t deliver. […]

    Reply

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