Customer Service Trumps Clever and Cute

The customer's perception is your reality
By Sara Rider   |   August 5, 2014

This is hard for someone in advertising to say:  it doesn’t matter how great the ad is or how thoroughly researched the media buy if the customer’s experience with the company is really bad.  But in our internet/social media driven world, businesses who do remember the importance of customer service sometimes forget that customer service in today’s marketplace is delivered through a variety of channels.

A recent column by Micah Solomon on Forbes online served as a good reminder of how excellence is in the details—and how those details extend beyond the physical place where you do business. Your attention to customer service extends beyond the people who answer the phone (and hopefully your company does realize the importance of a live person at the other end of the call).  It encompasses your online chats, those email inquiries from your “contact us” link on your website, and how well your website looks and functions beyond the landing page.

A few recent adventures in customer service underscored some of these points for me.  An online chat with someone at the Cleveland Clinic:  really great, professional and helpful.  A phone call to L.L. Bean to attempt to return defective merchandise I bought four months ago:  wonderful, responsive service from a real person with a great New England accent who answered the phone on the third ring.  A trip to Best Buy to attempt to purchase a new TV:  really, really bad.

The challenge for businesses is to make all of these interactions successful.  Or as Solomon says, “Don’t just be good—be memorably good.”  All of the touch points have to function seamlessly—and the brand has to be consistently reinforced at each point.  And if it’s not, then as Solomon points out it’s also important for companies to “learn to apologize.”  Most people will forgive an error if the apology is sincere and timely.

And when you have all parts of your organization creating a great customer experience, then you can launch that clever and targeted advertising campaign—and drive more people to visit your site, like you on Facebook, and buy your product or service.  (Sorry, but to me advertising will always be important!)

by Sara Rider

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About the Author

Sara Rider, Vice President at DeLaune & Associates, has written extensively for the healthcare, financial, non-profit, and technology industries for more than 30 years.

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