Marketers really should market good customer service more than they do. Why? Because customer service really does matter.
Good customer service, not to mention great customer service, is difficult to come by these days.
Think about every business, product or service you come into contact with on a daily basis. Then think about whether or not you are receiving truly good customer service.
I would argue that most often you probably “settle” for average customer service and are rarely exposed to truly strong customer service. You probably don’t even realize it sometimes.
Two very different examples of customer service came into play just yesterday for me, and there is a lesson that relates to marketing.
First, I tried to rent a car with one of the leading (or at least one of the most well-known) car rental companies. I have given a lot of business to this particular company, and have earned their highest status after renting cars from them for well over 10 years.
Well, without getting too far into the details of what actually happened, there was a mix-up with my reservation. I wasn’t getting anywhere with anyone in person. So I made calls and emails to try and get some help to straighten it all out, but I wasn’t getting anywhere there either. No one took responsibility for the situation.
After all of my years of devotion to this one particular company, when push came to shove, my “status” hadn’t earned me a damn thing in the eyes of these particular customer service representatives. In fact, I wasted close to three hours of my time trying to get everything sorted out. That is not good customer service.
Second, almost immediately after I got the car rental episode solved, I stopped by my bank of choice to make a deposit. I walked up to the window and was immediately greeted cheerfully. The customer service representative said her name, and earnestly asked “how can I help you today?” It was like a breath of fresh air.
I provided the check, deposit slip and my ID, and from that point forward I was called by name by the bank’s employees. I was even thanked for my loyalty for the last seven years. Even the teller next to the one I was talking to asked how my day was going. I chuckled and said “pretty poor until now”. They laughed too.
When I was done with the transaction, the customer service representative smiled again, asked me if there was anything else I needed, and wished me well. That is good customer service.
It got me thinking, oddly, about marketing.
Experience number one is likely what most of us come into contact with every day without maybe even realizing it; sub-par customer service even when there is years of loyalty built up.
Experience number two is likely what most of us do not come into contact with very often; good customer service by people who genuinely are there to help solve problems and make your experience a great one.
With my bank example, I recalled all of the marketing and advertising I’d seen from that particular bank in the past. I couldn’t once recall anything from their material about good customer service. When you think of the banking industry, there aren’t too many differentiators.
Sure, there are different types of accounts, fee structures, percentage returns and small differences related to the tangible things. These are the things you see most often in marketing materials. “Do business with our bank and enjoy no fees!” “Do business with our bank and you’ll earn X% on your money market.” You get the picture.
But one could argue for people like me that the intangibles are much more important and impactful. If this bank’s Chief Marketing Officer was smart, he or she would literally film the experience I had yesterday and use it as a commercial. Great customer service is the one of the true differentiators in an industry where most businesses look very much alike.
So why not market that? I don’t really care if I save a couple of pennies a year on account fees or transaction fees. I do care about doing business with companies who provide great service and are willing to go above and beyond for my business. Unfortunately for us as consumers, these companies are the exception to the rule. Fortunately for this particular bank, they have a huge marketing asset at their fingertips in good customer service.
Think hard about what you or your company does. Do you provide great customer service? Do your competitors? If you do and your competitors don’t, you need to market that. Good customer service goes such a long way in earning loyalty and it stands out especially in a highly-competitive or “me-too” industry.
I know two things from my experience yesterday. I will not choose to do business again with that particular car rental company despite my “status”. I will not choose to do business with a different bank from now on, I’m sticking to this one main bank. Two major decisions for me (and for the winning and losing companies) that were entirely based on customer service and my experience, and had little to do with the actual product or service.
The bank didn’t have to market their good customer service to me, because I happened to experience it first hand. But the lesson here is that they should have marketed it to me. Not only is good customer service the exception to the rule, marketing good customer service is an even bigger exception to the rule.
The moral of the story is that marketers really should tout good customer service more than they do. Why? Because customer service really does matter.
About the Author
Mike Sprouse is a Chief Marketer, Corporate Entrepreneur, Author and Philanthropist. He is a recognized public speaker and marketing expert, having run every facet of marketing and corporate strategy for public and private companies. Mike is the author of the critically-acclaimed book, “The Greatness Gap” and is a frequent blogger.