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 Don’t Forget About Customer Service

Wednesday, November 14, 2007 

By Cory Treffiletti

In marketing, there are certain rules that must be adhered to if you’re going to be judged successful, especially in a culture that is becoming so dependent on digital media! In digital media we witness consumers in a position of control and news travels fast, especially news regarding brands and products. According to an estimate I saw about a year ago, when consumers have a positive experience with a brand, they tell half as many as those consumers who have a negative experience with a brand (around 12 with a negative and around 7 with a positive experience). With all of this information, I find it disturbing and very surprising that in this digital economy, we tend to overlook one of the most fundamental elements of marketing: customer Service.

Remember what happened to Dell when the company ignored a lonely blogger who started writing about his poor experience with it? Dell had to spend millions of dollars to respond later because it ignored him initially — and it turned out that his experience was more the rule than the exception.

I recently had the same experience with Best Buy — and I am now rabidly against anyone buying from them. I had a business account with Best Buy and spent a fair amount of money outfitting our new company with computers and software and additional elements necessary for our business. In the last interaction I had with Best Buy, I was informed that due to their error (they lost the original software discs for installing Windows Office 2007), I had to go out of my way and bring in one of my strategists’ computers for a day to replace the software with new software. All because they lost the original software and refused to take responsibility for it.

It may sound like a simple thing — but if you are a small business owner, you know how bad it can be to take someone out of the field for any amount of time, even if only a day. When I asked for assistance and proposed other options that would lessen the impact on my business, the manager I was speaking to told me, “That’s all I can do, there are no other options.” I responded by closing my account on the spot, returning over $1,600 in merchandise that I had just purchased in the last 45 minutes, and telling him that I would no longer do business with his company. I asked him if this was the course of action he wanted, knowing that I was a business account who had spent a significant amount of money in the last 45 days and would be continuing to do so? He shrugged his shoulders and said, “Thank you for your business.”

This all may not sound all that bad — but it happened after I’d spent 20 minutes waiting for someone to help me in the first place – and when I finally got someone’s attention, he wasn’t knowledgeable about the products that I was asking about. Talk about poor customer service!

If you’ve ever purchased anything from a Best Buy, you would know that they are pushy at least and semi-knowledgeable at best. They are always trying to add on service plans and they generally have a poor customer service rating. If you think I’m a single complaint in the sea of customers serviced by Best Buy, do a search for “customer service rating Best Buy” or just check out this example here:

The reason I bring this up in today’s article is simply to make a point: Customer Service is the single most important element of a marketing campaign — and unfortunately, most partners and agencies forget to consider it. You need to experience the product you’re marketing and you need to walk the floors of the retailers you promote. You need to buy something from them online and you need to speak to their customer service people in order to experience the full scope of the brand! We spend lots of time talking about conversational marketing and buzz marketing — but much buzz centers around the customer experience. If the promise doesn’t match the actual experience, then your brand will almost certainly hear about it!

Don’t overlook these elements when you begin work for a client — or you might be doing them a real disservice. Then, no matter what you do to reach the target customer, the target customer will take a pass on the opportunity.

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