Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Customer Service Isn't New.

Gary Vaynerchuk and Tony Hsieh have picked up a lots of plaudits for focussing their Le Web talks on customer service. Deservedly so. But this is nothing new. That they seem so insightful to many people is simply an indictment of the levels to which things have been allowed to fall.

Customer service has always been there. It's encapsulated in the P of product. If you think that your product is simply that which your customer buys from you, you're deluding yourself. They're buying the product/service plus everything that you provide to make the consumption of that product an enjoyable and fulfilling experience that makes them better at doing something.

I once heard a marketing professor postulate a 5th marketing P (for Phacilitating Services) to emphasise just that fact. He was right because his base example of this was IBM's reputation for post-sales service and support in the 60s, but he was also wrong. Wrong because separating it from the product suggests that it's a marketing option you can choose to prioritise or not.

Customer service shouldn't be the centralised, prescriptive provision that all too easily conjures up images of mission statments, faux sincerity and ranks of low-paid transient phone-jockeys. It should be a distributed, pervasive culture in which everybody can fearlessly act on their own initiative to right a wrong or create a memorable interaction. Customer sevice is not an add-on, it's a necessity.


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