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Customer Service as the New Marketing?

Posted on : 14-01-2010 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Customer Service, Marketing, Social Media

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Advertising is based on one thing: happiness. And do you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It’s freedom from fear. It’s a billboard on the side of a road that screams with reassurance that whatever you’re doing is OK. You are OK. - Don Draper, Mad Men Season 1 Episode 1

Today advertising is not creating that happiness, it is relationships and connections we have with others.  Messages no longer come from the company, but instead from friends, family and people we have never met.  How will a company work to get their message through?

I am always thinking about Customer Service and what it will look like as we move forward.  It is interesting to see how the economy alone has started to shift thinking at many companies.  Have you seen the latest Chase Sapphire commercial?

Now I know credit card companies are not really known for service, especially due to the negative risk based decision we know they make.  At the same time I used to work in that business and at the time companies were looking at ways to differentiate themselves using Customer Service.  This commercial reminded me of the efforts we made at my prior company, at least prior to the shift in the economy (and the company going bankrupt).  Now Chase is creating a product to try to meet the new demands of Customers regarding service.  I am sure many of you are tired of the automated answering systems, well as this ad points out, for this product when you call you get a real life person.  I did try a different Chase card, and with that number I still receive the automated answering.

I have discussed previously that we are entering a different time in Customer relations, and the control has shifted to the Customer.  Since the 1950′s marketing has been king, the message was dictated by the company through ads, especially in TV.  “Mad Men” told us what we like and how we like it.  The right advertisement did it all, even if the product was not up to par.  But then came Amazon, and other websites like it.  Today a product comes out and almost immediately reviews start to pile in on websites.  This completely changed how people buy virtually any product.  I know for myself, I could be in a store and before buying I will go to Amazon and read reviews, as well as Google the item to find other reviews.

So what does Amazon reviews have to do with Customer Service?  Well a lot!  It is part of an overall picture that has been painted over a number of years.  Marketing was king, but now the Customer is king and companies have to learn the best ways to deal with that.  For a long time, if you lost a Customer, strong marketing would bring in 10 others in their place.  But today you lose a Customer they have the ability to easily tell thousands.  Customers have grown tired of not being able to be serviced the first time, and by banning together through social networking, their word of mouth will force companies to rethink the cost reductions done in service over the past 20 years.  There will be a true ROI for providing best in class service.

Maybe in 45 years we will see a retro show about the Customer Service leaders?  Probably not, that would be very boring.