Now, I am cautiously optimistic about this focus on customer service, but let me tell you why I feel this way.
– Brands are using a focus on customers as a competitive differentiator in their advertisements. Frank Eliason mentions the new commercial for the Chase Sapphire credit card service. It features the ability to talk “directly to a live person when I call” rather than being routed around an automated call queue. The new Domino’s Pizza commercials talk about how they have been listening to their customers and have improved their pizza as a direct result. Phil, who Tweets for them from Domino’s HQ, talks about how they have been serious about customer feedback and been researching this for 2 years. Kudos to these two companies and the many others who are making it public that they care about their customers and what they think of their brands.
– I am hearing more and more that “Customer Service is the New Marketing” from smart folks in the social media space (including in the above post from Frank Eliason). This isn’t a new concept; in fact, I spoke at a conference of the same name 2 years ago this February (where I first met Tony Hsieh from Zappos). Every customer touch is another brand impression of the company. Each contact with customer service, whether by phone, email, Twitter, or self-service is a brand impression. Each customer service representative says more about the brand by how they treat a customer during an interaction than any marketing campaign.
– Customers are having ongoing conversations with brands and with each other about products and services. Companies are realizing how influential these conversations are now that they are starting to listen to them via social media monitoring. And it is a good thing they are doing so. As I tweeted out earlier this week,
“Customer service is more critical than ever. The combo of social media and mobile devices = the perfect storm for an angry customer.”
Think about this scenario. A customer is standing in line at a retail store. The line is very long, and the checker seems to be taking forever. The customer feels like complaining to the closest person who will listen, and it is at his fingertips: Twitter/Facebook/posterous via his mobile phone. It is imperative that brands and companies constantly listen, and more of them than ever seem to be doing so. Those who are not will fall behind in 2010.
In my opinion, all the signs are pointing in the right direction for a focus on great customer service, and with it a rockin’ customer experience in 2010. Those companies that “get it” will rebound from this recession faster than those that don’t. Those companies that “get it” will have loyal customers who shout about how great that company is to anyone who will listen. Those who don’t may just hear a lot of shouting as their customers complain very publicly and then walk away.
What do you think? Is 2010 the year for a focus on the customer?
(Image credit: michaeldb)