We’ve heard it many times before: Customer Service is the new marketing. Books have been written about it, presentations given and blogs are filled with this insight. And, most executives understand the importance of delivering supreme service to their customers? Given all that, why are most companies still delivering sub-par Customer Service? Why are we still dealing with phone trees, scripts, badly designed forms? Where id the disconnect?
Most companies are not designed to deliver on the ‘Service as Marketing’ promise
David Armano wrote an insightful post “Social Media Marketing won’t fix your infrastructure problem.” He explains:
“Every business has a series of systems and infrastructure in place to keep it running. Even if the goal is to EVOLVE the communications/marketing arm of your organization because you fundamentally believe that the game is changing—there is no way to do it without picking up the hood and looking at the engine. Not just the oil or the windshield fluid level, but the ENTIRE engine.”
While many marketing departments are evolving and trying to tap into the power of Social Media, the rest of the enterprise continues to work under the old paradigm of Customer Service as a cost center. The much lauded @ComcastCares can’t hide the fact that Comcast as an enterprise doesn’t value their customers as much as they should. Or as Jonathan Salem Baskin writes in his brilliant column titled “The Twitter Tax”
“Tools like Twitter aren’t some dream of customer empowerment, but rather the nightmare reality of the broken relationships between consumers and brands. Responding to online complaints is a tax that companies pay because of the chronic mismatch between what consumers expect from brands and what they ultimately get. An individualized response might momentarily bridge the gap, but it won’t fix it. Never will.”
While I encourage companies to listen and respond on these new channels, the highest priority of companies should be to work on the basics – and improve Customer Service to a point where no more complaints will be expressed and employees and more focused on helping people, less on servicing them. (Just in case you need a few stats to convince the decision makers in your enterprise: Among customers who leave a customer interaction angry, 91% will never come back and 96% of those people will never tell us why they left)
It requires a corporate-wide rethinking of all customer touch points: phone, email, forms, attitudes. But, most importantly, Customer Service Departments have to transform from cost centers to profit centers. No, I’m not talking about up-sell scripts.I’m talking about improving loyalty and customer satisfaction. It requires the design of a new enterprise system that puts Customer Service at the center of all activities. This allows companies to regard each customer interaction as an opportunity to deliver a superior experience and be sincerely helpful.