Customer Service is the New Marketing

First session of the day, "Customer Service is the New Marketing"

Lane Becker, of Get Satisfaction, which seems at first glance very cool,  is the speaker. Lane's pitch:  Foster more satisfied, loyal customers by working less and spending less money. Sweet!

Using the example of Zappos.com, aka "The holy grail of customer service" Lane walks us through why Zappos.com is going to sell over 1 billion in shoes and accessories this year: excellent customer service. The wow experience. By not relying on the typical metrics of customer service (time per call, number of resolved calls) and instead working on the model that the customer is king, they are building not only brand loyalty but brand evangelists, or in my case, brand zealots (I LOVE ZAPPOS!) Zappos considers themselves "A customer service company that happens to sell shoes." And they are very transparent. Tony, the CEO of Zappos twitters (I happen to follow him) and he doesn't put any pretense into his posts. You know when he is late, excited, or even unshowered. Full disclosure baby. And nobody is above customer service. Every single person who comes into Zappos as an employee gets 4 weeks of customer service training. Every single person, regardless of level, spend one week in the call center. VPs and above have to spend one week a year in the call center to understand the customer. That is incredible to me. And it makes sense.

Lane breaks it down like this: at the most basic level, you can meet expectations (creates satifaction) meets desires (creates commitment), or meet unrecognized needs (creates evangelism). Zappos.com strives for category number three.

But how many  companies can afford to do this? Not many.

According to Lane, companies fall into three broad categories: Customer-focused (Four Seasons, Zappos, Craigslist), Product-focused (Sun, Apple, Google, web startups), and Infrastructure-focused (telcos, cable, utilities).

Obvee, as a product focused company we spend a lot of time refining the product and servicing the product and communicating out about the product. But we also need to listen to the community as they use the product and then respond. In short, per Lane, we need to start acting like a Hotel Conceirge and:

1. Put conversations at the center of the business

We will converse about infrastructure, product, etc. we converse with each other, but pull up the drawbridge when it comes to customers. Customer avoidance. Conversation killers: Outsourced call centers, FAQs, Trouble Ticket systems. Don't turn a person into a number.

2. Reduce your sphere of control to increase sphere of influence

Understand that this is the era of friction-free communication. We are all in contact at any and all times. Word on the street travels faster than a press release on the wire. Understand that. Accept that. Then work to become part of the communities conversation. Go to where the conversation is happening and jump in.Handy tip: Use Google Alerts to track you product/brand/company.

3. Smash the silos

The "It's not our problem" problem. Break silos, find solutions. It's a network ecosystem...acknowledge that there is more of them (customers) than there are of you and find the solution.

Man was this a good session. Loved it. Great presenter, great topic, great takeaways. Kickass way to start Web 2.0.

-hd






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