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Business Development Empowerment Techniques tips

When ‘customer service stars’ present mixed reviews

Amazon gets high customer service marks. But, its employee treatment is controversial and, by most accounts, lacking. In contrast, Costco gets consistently high marks across both categories. As employees also are vital “customers,” mixed reviews can present a dilemma when deciding to court customer service stars as prospects.

It’s not necessarily an all-or-nothing scenario. It is truly in the eyes of the beholder—in this case, personal preferences and values.

Some will give the Amazons of the world a pass, feeling that their customer service excellence makes them a viable client/customer prospect. Others will eliminate Amazon because of myriad stories of less-than-optimum employee treatment. How do you decide who to prospect?

Simple. As in other areas, go with your values—and your gut feelings. If treating employees well ranks as high as external customers/clients, then the decision between a Costco and Amazon type of business as a prospect is an easy one. If, on the other hand, you are more invested in seeing customers/clients treated like gold and aren’t as concerned about employees, prospects with mixed ratings may be acceptable.

Drilling down a bit further, look at the track record in desired areas. Longevity, consistency and evolution all are important.

Costco, for example, has showcased top-notch customer service and employee treatment for decades. Amazon is evolving their customer service protocols. For example, Prime deliveries are typically made on-time and following delivery instructions is now the norm, not a hit-and-miss proposition as it was just a year ago.

When seeking out prospects who are reliably filling the bill, do a deep dive of reports over a substantial period of time, even a decade. Older mainstream media reports and other historic markers—including older Net Promoter Scores and Glassdoor ratings—can provide insights that can drive decision-making.

Along the way, don’t discount steady and enduring improvement. A company scoring low on employee treatment a decade ago that has upped its game considerably is worthy of consideration because they changed their ways. This shows a willingness to change—an emotionally intelligent move.

A producthabits.com article spotlights one such company: “Startups can learn some of the most valuable lessons on product and marketing from the growth of the world’s biggest pizza chain. The story of Domino’s Pizza is a hero’s journey. It’s a story of reinvention. Domino’s had a 180-degree company overhaul and turned critics into superfans by being honest with themselves about their weaknesses. They took a huge, scary risk and completely scrapped and remade their core product: pizza.”

The article continues: “At the same time, the company has been perceptive about where their true value is for customers. They know customers love them because they’re convenient—and in recent years they’ve used technology to double down on the convenience and reliability that define the core of their brand. This self-awareness, and the guts to act on it, has paid off. Now they’re punching far above their weight class. Domino’s stock has grown 90x from $2 to $180 since 2010.”

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Looking for new business contracts? Consider courting companies that are customer service stars. If a company scores high on customer service, it follows that they may also be committed to providing a high-quality product or service, and treating all their stakeholders well. Stakeholders include suppliers/vendors, partners, and employees. It improves the odds of working with a top-flight company that will treat you fairly and respect your contribution.

Mark Lusky

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Mark Lusky
mark@marklusky.com

Mark Lusky (aka The Happy Curmudgeon)
is the owner of a Denver-based marketing communications firm. He’s a veteran writer, storyteller and author, with 40+ years of public relations, advertising, marketing and journalism experience, and author of A Wandering Wondering Jew… and co-author of Don’t Get Mad, Get Leverage.

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