Customer Service Impacts Marketing

One bad experience with customer service can tear down everything a marketing campaign has built up. Several bad experiences can turn a campaign into negative marketing.

Just ask AT&T — as Seth Godin mentions in his recent post, the quality of their network, and susbequently their customers’ negative experiences, has a negative effect on their business.

Now, I had a good, long look at AT&T as their customer a long time ago, and I swore I’d never have them again. I was a happy Cingular customer for a long time. Then AT&T buys Cingular, and I began to have a wary eye as to what it would mean for me. Sure enough, suddenly my reliable 5 bars turns into dropped calls and frustration (I could rage on, but I am gonna keep it short…I’m over it, really…well, maybe not). And when I’ve interacted with their customer service team, the resolution is not sufficient. “No, we can’t give you a credit” — even though I haven’t gotten the value they promised and I’ve paid for. “That’s a technical issue” or “We’re currently experiencing some network difficulties” — well, as Seth says, how about you fix it.

Anyway, what that means is all the marketing dollars they spend end up having the opposite effect as intended, at least in the worlds of all their customers who’ve had negative experiences (and I know there’s alot of others like me, otherwise Seth wouldn’t blog about it). And that just multiplies as those customers become negative brand evalgelists, and not just in the blogoshpere. When I see those “fewer dropped calls” commericals, I laugh. I comment to friends how untrue it is. I advocate others to get another service.

So, the moral here is, before you charge ahead and launch a marketing campaign or spend a marketing dollar, make sure your customer service function (and really, your whole brand story and every customer touchpoint) is aligned with the messaging you deliver in your campaign. Make sure customers expectations will be met at whatever level you set them in your messaging — and beyond. And that’s the same moral for any campaign for any size or any company.

Otherwise, you’re the next AT&T slammed in the blogosphere or in a living room when a commerical comes on.

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