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Successful customer service programs develop from a place of authenticity

Essentially, treating people well and keeping them happy is substantially about treating others the way you want to be treated. Putting together and maintaining a system that will do this reliably across all customer service audiences in a rapidly expanding marketplace is the biggest challenge. Where to start? By understanding that the most successful customer service programs stem from caring, committed performance inside the company. Any efforts to market good customer service should come from authenticity, not grandiose, exaggerated claims unable to stand up to the light of day.

How about this ad to accentuate customer service? It states in part, “The Store That Can Say, ‘We Satisfy’… ‘We are looking for trouble—looking all day, every day, for anything that has caused or may cause even the slightest vexation. When we find it, it is fixed. If you find it first, tell us. We want to satisfy—We do satisfy.”

Sounds compelling and current. It actually ran in 1902. According to businessinsider.com, The Dayton Company, which eventually evolved into Target, was the advertiser.

What does this prove? The messaging isn’t new. The concept of thorough, obsessive customer service isn’t new. It’s deeply embedded in our psyches and our system of commerce.

What is new is the depth and breadth of the customer community being served—and the technologies, data mining and techniques being deployed to try to bring this level of customer service to everyone. The world’s population now is 7.8 billion versus 1.6 billion in 1900.

While ways to provide bulletproof customer service will continue to evolve, the basic concept is just that, basic. Instead of couching it in buzzy gobbledygook-laden marketing campaigns, spend the time, brainpower and money figuring out how to deliver it in the clearest, most complete and most consistent fashion possible.

To some degree, at least, follow a Will Rogers credo: “If advertisers spent the same amount of money on improving their products as they do on advertising then they wouldn’t have to advertise them.”

Increasingly, companies are seeing the value of showing their true selves and talking plainly, instead of focusing on the latest, greatest and most clever marketing slogan and campaign. There’s nothing inherently wrong with being entertaining. Just make sure to back it up.

Having just watched the Super Bowl, this is ringing particularly true. Advertisers spending $5 million per spot may want to consider how that same amount of money could be allocated to enhancing customer service policies and protocols.

Admittedly, this is tricky. You’ve got to delegate resources and dollars to let people know the level of commitment and show how it will be reliably met. But, once again, I go back to the model of Costco, which has no formal advertising and marketing department or program. They rely on positive word-of-mouth and an incredible customer service commitment to spread the good word. Clearly, they followed the advice of Will Rogers and continue to grow profitably.

This, of course, takes time. But the idea is to make customer service performance match the claims anywhere and everywhere possible.

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Do you have customer service snafus or stellar experiences to share? If so, feel free to comment on this post or email your thoughts to mark@marklusky.com.

Mark Lusky is a veteran writer, storyteller and author, with 40+ years of public relations, advertising, marketing and journalism experience.

Author of A Wandering Wondering Jew… and co-author of Don’t Get Mad, Get Leverage,  Mark (aka The Happy Curmudgeon) is the owner of a Denver-based marketing communications firm.

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