Wednesday, January 02, 2013
Great Service = Great Marketing
Robinsons is an icon of service in Singapore (image courtesy of goodcitydeals)
What is the best way to trigger positive and enduring word of mouth?
A) Rolling out fantastic promotions and irresistible deals, such as two-for-one deals or "everybody-win" contests?
B) Creating fantastic publicity events, like the recent jump from space by Felix Baumgartner for Red Bull Stratos?
C) Developing fantastic big idea advertisements, like the legendary 1984 Superbowl commercial by Apple for the Macintosh?
D) Providing fantastic customer service experiences that people will rave about, long after the sale was made?
There isn't a "correct" answer so to speak, but I'll probably go with D.
(If budget permits, you should tick all four boxes. Unfortunately, that's becoming increasingly difficult with the economy sputtering along as it is.)
In a world where product innovations can be quickly copied, customer experience makes all the difference. Companies need to focus not only on the transaction itself but the entire experience - from the point of first contact to the time he or she departs.
Excellent service is the reason we love shopping at Robinsons.
I recalled an experience some time ago when we were contemplating buying mattresses at the store. The sales lady described at length what the qualities of the different models of mattresses were, enquired what our sleeping habits and budgets were like, and encouraged us to "try" as many as we wished even when the brands were not under her charge.
At no time during the encounter did she rush or push us to arrive at a decision.
After visiting competing establishments and trying out different mattresses, we eventually decided to purchase from Robinsons (or more specifically from the lady). We felt more comfortable speaking to her and the price seemed right.
Obviously, my experience is not unique. Robinsons has generated so much goodwill over the years that loyal customers lobbied to keep it going when it threatened to close down a couple of years ago.
Unfortunately, establishments like Robinsons are few and far between.
In a world where practically any product or service can be commodified, sustainable marketing comes from creating customer experiences that are delightful and inspired. By caring about a customer's spoken and unspoken needs, you create magic.
That stuff is worth a lot more than the fanciest TV commercial or the most daring stunt.
Indeed, it isn't how many Facebook fans, Twitter followers, eyeballs, VIP customers, or email lists you have acquired, but what you do individually with each customer that counts. Being helpful, knowledgeable and sincere goes a long way towards creating lifetime customers. The goodwill and positive word of mouth generated far overshadows whatever new customers you can acquire through fancy marketing alone.