I’ve written about good customer service in the past, highlighting my excellent experience with L.L. Bean. I’ve postulated that quality customer service is actually free, because the incremental sales more than make up for “excessive” talk time and refunds/credits granted by your customer service representatives.
Here’s a trivially-observed example of what lousy customer service will cost you. In this example, from Verizon, it’s a minimum of $100.
Apple’s .mac service changeover to MobileMe was a complete debacle. The system was down for more or less the day before the iPhone 2.0 launch and for that entire day. If you rely on your .mac account for your email, like a lot of independent consultants and graphic design professionals, that downtime cost you real money.
I’ve got a .mac account for backup and file exchange purposes, so the downtime was more of an annoyance to me than anything. I didn’t expect anything from Apple, except an update telling me that everything was stable and an apology.
To my surprise, I got an email apologizing as well as a free month of service. Smart customer service move by Apple which, like L.L. Bean, knows service. The cost of providing that extra month of service is ~$0 and should easily pay for itself in forgone churn.
Ever get email that just makes you wonder who’s minding the shop? I was looking to redeem some My Coke Rewards points for a free T-shirt and couldn’t find anything in my size. I filled out an on-site question and got a response back in 3 minutes.
This was good! Unfortunately it was a response that only told me they were going to respond and triggered some laughter on my part.
The email took me right back to the early days of the first CRM systems and looked like a programmer’s “default” response that nobody at Coke‘s vendor could be bothered to adjust. Well, it’s only been two years since the program launched, so perhaps I need to give them some time.
In all honesty, I truly believe that Coke will put the right sizes back in stock and I’ll be happy. I’ve never had anything other than a good experience with their products and practically marinade in Coke Zero. I just wish they’d read their emails before they sent them out.
Summary and key takeaways
Check all your customer communications by putting yourself in their place. That means log in at home, at night and do the strange and wonderful things that our customers do. See how you respond and see if it makes sense.
Put your customer communications on the wall. The best idea I’ve heard is to set up a room and lay out everything you do to communicate with your customers, in the order in which it’s sent. On the stuff that doesn’t make sense, is off brand strategy or just ugly, tag it with a red sticker. Then start punching through in priority order, particularly the things that hurt conversion or drive down ARPU or unit of sale.
Read my email chain with KO after the jump. photo credit: myuibe
You plan for offensive operations, while you prepare to play defense. You’ll find this concept in both warfare and sports, and it’s applicable in business as well.
I much prefer playing offense, because that’s where you score and generate revenues. A strong business offensive plan also limits the amount of places you’ll need to prepare to play defense, freeing up more resources for–you guessed it–playing more offense.
What’s an example of planning as opposed to preparations in a marketing context?
A great example can be found in the United States Postal Service and the annual postage increases. If you’re using direct mail as a marketing channel, you can be sure of two things: