Customer Service as Part of the Marketing Plan: Why it Matters, Part 2

Gordon PlutskyNews1 Comment

goodcsThis is the final installment of our customer service series from guest-blogger and King Fish Media’s Director of Marketing and Research, Gordon Plutsky.

In Part 1, I took a look at some bad customer experiences. Here are some companies that understand how they can fulfill their brand promise through customer service.

Every week I drive through two towns and past 10 supermarkets to get to Whole Foods. Not only is the food better and healthier, but the service is impeccable. From the guys behind the meat counter to the friendly cashiers, customers are always treated with respect and professionalism. I look forward to my trips there for what could be a chore.

It really hit me when I stopped into a major supermarket chain to pick up a few items. To get my deli order, I had to bust up a complaint session among the workers about the break schedule. At the checkout, I was treated to a conversation between the cashier (Brittney) and the bagger (Courtney). Brit and Court completely ignored me while yapping back and forth about a classmate who had the temerity to brag about owning an $80 shirt. In all the commotion, several of my groceries were smashed as they were thrown into flimsy plastic bags.

Comcast is another company that understands customer service. They understand they are a big, ugly utility that overcharges for their service — a service that doesn’t always work as advertised. To compensate, their phone customer reps and field service employees go out of their way to be courteous, knowledgeable and helpful.

I made the cardinal mistake of getting the first rev of their TIVO box and the software was buggy. Every time I called ready to cancel, I was sweet-talked into staying. They acknowledged the service needed work and offered me discounts to stick with them. How could I say no? Whenever something didn’t work, it was replaced at no cost, no questions asked and with a smile. That kind of service buys patience as they work out some bugs.

I have also encountered great service at Mercedes-Benz, Best Buy, Amazon.com and dozens of small local companies/stores. In almost all cases, it’s worth a premium. I wonder how many grand marketing plans are undone by bad customer service, an impersonal phone system or a balky website. How many CMOs have customer service reporting directly to them? If they don’t, they should — it’s just as important as any other aspect of their marketing plan.

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