I Have All the Aggravation I Need
I have a very simple philosophy: I have all the aggravation I need making money; I will not be aggravated spending it.
I mention this to clients on a regular basis. They all laugh. And they all assume that it doesn’t apply to them.
For all that we are living in a rotten economy… For all the talk about how social media allows us to get real-time feedback and have dialogues with customers… For all the conversations about customer engagement… For all the effort being put into customer relations management and CRM software…
Far too many companies are operating on the (unspoken) psychological principle that people don’t like change. So once they’ve got someone as a customer, good service is hard to find. It is seen as an expense, not an investment.
Examples of this abound. But two of my favorites are the NY Times and ADT. Call customer service, and it immediately becomes clear that their only interest in you is as a source of revenue. (This is, of course, accurate. But it shouldn’t be obvious.) But call to discontinue service, and their service reps are suddenly authorized to offer discounts and ways to resolve the issues that got you to that point in the first place.
This is just plain crazy. Worse than that: It is poor business. As I’ve written elsewhere, in too many instances, service is seen as the customer’s obligation.
So, listen up, marketers. We can create the most compelling messages ever seen. We can explain why people should buy our goods and services in clever, lucid ways. We can position our companies as thought-leaders and innovators. We can worry about engaging customers and prospects. We can focus on “content management” and increasing our reach on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, etc. But if the company doesn’t walk the walk, it won’t take customers long to find out.
Walking the walk is a crucial decision in how to face the marketplace. But it is a CEO’s responsibility (not marketing’s) to set that standard and hold everyone to it.