Stew Leonards has a very famous customer service story (circa 1969) that resulted in a giant rock that sits outside of his stores inscribed with the following:
Rule 1: The Customer is Always Right
Rule 2: If the Customer is ever Wrong, read Rule #1
This mantra is probably one of the most debated topics in the world of customer service. Is it better for business to satisfy every single customer or is it better to delight your good customers and sever ties with those that aren’t a fit?
The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, a movie theatre located in Austin, TX, opted for the latter. One day they received an irate voicemail from a customer who’d been thrown out for using her cell during a film. The response from the theatre didn’t include begging for forgiveness, issuing a refund or a letter of apology. Instead, they turned the customer’s message, laden with f-bombs, into a public-service announcement shown to audiences before the movie commences.
There are a number of reasons why bending over backwards to satisfy every single client can be a flawed system:
When you invest time, energy and money into trying to satisfy the wrong customers, you reduce your ability to attract the right ones.
That doesn’t mean that we, as businesses, should throw out the notion of amazing customer service. On the contrary. In a time when one tweet can cost a business millions, delighting customers is simply the cost of doing business, not a value-add. However, it also emphasizes the need to do business with the right customers. Work with enough people who don’t get you, don’t appreciate what you do, don’t like you, and you’re creating your own detraction engine.
Now it’s time for you to weigh in. What do you think?
Photo via mikkime
“Why should I care about you?”
You’ve probably never heard this question asked of you. In fact, you’ve probably never even asked this question of anyone else. Yet it’s the single most important question every small business marketer needs to answer, consistently.
Your competitors now have instant access to your business and marketing tactics. They can see your contacts and “friends”, they can monitor what you say and how you say it, they can investigate how people are responding to you, where you ‘check in’, who you’re speaking to, what ads you’re running, how much traffic you’re getting…online. This insight can be used to make your competitors think and act smarter than you.
Advertising used to be reserved for those with ample budgets. You would pay to play. An explosion of communication distribution channels, like email marketing and social media, means that your target customer is exposed to more messages from brands than ever before.
That equates to more noise. It also creates a greater desire to tune out what’s not important and hone in on that which offers the greatest value.
Your target market chooses whether or not to subscribe to your mailing list, opt in to your SMS campaign, friend you, follow you, read your message, forward it on to friends, tweet it to their social graph or blog about you.
Your target market can choose to tune into your message, turn up the volume or mute you.
But getting your market to tune into what you have to say isn’t a one time task. You have to consistently commit to creating value. According to EdgeRank, 96% of users who ‘like’ your Facebook page never visit your page again, and 91% of email users have subscribed to a company’s email and then later decided they no longer wanted to receive the emails, based on ExactTarget research. This trend is seen across the breadth of marketing channels.
Age of Customer
We have now entered the Age of the Customer. A time when they have access to more choice, cheaper prices and better offers than ever before…when a plethora of businesses are vying for their attention…when they are in control.
So, why should they care about you?
Answer this question and answer it consistently.
Photo via Danielle Page