Fundamentally, customer service always has been vital to company success. A salesforce.com article captures the enduring essence of good customer service: “…the core of providing customer service hasn’t changed even considering it’s been close to two centuries. Even with the speed of technology, many of the same approaches that Marshall Field made famous back in 1852 are applicable to modern companies like Google, Apple, and Zappos.”
In 1982, the year Mark Lusky Communications launched, Federal Express introduced its iconic ad slogan, “When it absolutely, positively, has to be there overnight.”
Back then, it took a while for those slogans to get matched up with reports and reviews about whether or not that customer service promise was being consistently fulfilled. Today, however, the word spreads like wildfire about good or bad service. Everyone has a voice, in reviews, across social media, and elsewhere. Sometimes, as with recent unfortunate incidents on a variety of airplanes, that voice gets amplified almost immediately. A couple photos, a short video…that’s all it takes to capture the good, the bad, and the ugly.
In the case of Federal Express, a cursory search produces everything from poor ratings to raving fans. While FedEx is big enough and entrenched enough that negative reviews won’t immediately spell disaster for them, smaller and less-entrenched enterprises may find themselves in a world of hurt quickly.
Conversely, stellar reviews can catapult a smaller company into favorable territory faster than orchestrated marketing campaigns. Good customer service is the cornerstone that supports solid, positive reviews. Ineffective, uncaring or rude treatment in the customer service realm will get called out vociferously, and often virally.
Everything is customer service
Customer service deserves full company dedication in all matters related to company operations, legal, marketing, sales and more…everything. Every department, from bill collection to customer problem resolution, needs to understand that respectful, resourceful and resolution-focused customer service is essential to company reputation, resilience and ROI.
Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh sums it up succinctly: “We believe that customer service shouldn’t be just a department; it should be the entire company.”
When it comes to marketing and sales specifically, increasingly there are pronouncements about the critical importance of customer service. Notes Steve Cannon, President & CEO of Mercedes Benz, “Customer experience is the new marketing.”
“Customer service is the new marketing, and it’s the new sales engine,” notes a July 2018 Forbes magazine article. “Some organizations, large (Amazon, Apple, Patagonia) and small (your favorite local hair salon, perhaps, or local restaurant) already understand this. They’ve learned to focus their efforts on great customer service and let that customer service drive future sales…”
Make your company and customer service inseparable partners, and you won’t go wrong.
Watch for upcoming blog posts in my 36 and Counting series.
Previous: 36 years in business as of September 2
Mark Lusky is a veteran writer, storyteller and author, with 40+ years of public relations, advertising, marketing and journalism experience. He is the author of A Wandering Wondering Jew… and co-author of Don’t Get Mad, Get Leverage. AKA The Happy Curmudgeon, Mark is the owner of a Denver-based marketing communications firm celebrating 36 years in business in 2018.