Recently, I dealt with two huge faceless corporations. From an objective standpoint, I should have had the same experience with both.
Instead, the first company, of whom I’ve been a customer for 5 years, treated me like a person – a person with a problem that needed to be solved immediately. I got a call back, from a live human being within 10 minutes of leaving a message at an 800 number. This person? Offered to do whatever they could to help the situation – above and beyond his call of duty – even though the problem wasn’t his company’s fault.
The other company? I waited on hold for 30 minutes just to be told that they had no usable information. After conducting a very panicked investigation myself (with the help of the previously mentioned company) and then waiting another 15 minutes on hold, just to hear “Sorry, there’s nothing I can do,” this company lost a loyal customer of 11 years.
Both of these companies have excellent marketing. I’m sure both of these companies have excellent operational standards in place. But, from my experience as a customer, one of these companies was living their brand promise. And the other? After some searching, I think maybe they have forgotten that part of their brand completely.
As marketing and branding professionals, we have to think of all aspects of the marketing process, which include the traditional 4 P’s of the marketing mix – price, product, promotion and place. But in today’s market, those 4 P’s often aren’t enough. You’ve made the sale, now what? Sometimes we have to remind our clients to ask themselves – how do you keep that customer coming back? How do you turn a customer into an advocate? When price and product become a commodity, what makes YOUR company different? The answer is usually another P – people (or employees). And the service those people deliver.
Many companies pour the big bucks into promotion, external marketing and price competition and forget one of their most important audiences – the INTERNAL audience. Their people. You can provide the best product or service on the market – and have the stats to back it – but if your people don’t believe in it or don’t understand your brand, in the end, you lose. Those are the people who are the real face of your product – in their communities, in your businesses and, today, online. What does it say about your product if your own people don’t – or even won’t – buy it or recommend it?
In this day and age of shaving overhead and boosting the bottom line by using automated services – and a website – as your customer service solution, you can stand out by also making the investment in pleasant, informed, service-oriented people. Those people will pay you back in loyal customers – who are passionate about your brand and service (and will tell their friends) in ways that you can never calculate in ROI.