Fast Company

Innovation: Customer Service is the CONDUIT Through Which Direct Brand Conversations Happen

Customer service and brand marketing are rapidly converging. With the help of social media and courtesy of greater competitive forces, most companies are now finding that the experience of their brand is one of if not the differentiator for their brand. But wait, the experience does not have to be passive on the company side - the story the company reinforces in the minds of its customers counts.

This is valid especially with mature brands where predictability can become a double edged sword. Was Starbucks too much of a good thing? I asked a short two months ago. There is a conversation going on right now on several blogs about how the company could take its brand to the next level.

Although the company may call this a “brand conversation”, our customers just think of it as a cup of coffee and a chat worth going to that specific store and paying for. The brand is a by-product of that experience - no more and no less. Let’s not over-think it.

John Moore of Brand Autopsy, author of Tribal Knowledge, sums up this lesson for any business nicely in his book:

1. Be passionate about your business
2. Educate customers on how and why they should appreciate what you offer
3. Create a welcoming place, an experience easy to remember

Every word counts, every action counts, attitude counts. This is where I see plenty of opportunity for businesses to move back into customer service. The whole business, not just a lucky few on the front lines.

Recently Starbucks closed 7,000 of its U.S. locations for three hours so it could provide espresso excellence training to employees. Was that valuable to us?

I believe we become repeat purchasers of those products and services that have a good ratio between price and value. Yet, the most valuable of all brand experiences happen through direct conversations. These are the “in the moment” instances in which a company has the opportunity to either make or break your day, to choose whether it will be difficult and sloppy, or if it will make its actions count. Actions matter.

Valeria Maltoni . Conversation Agent . Philadelphia, PA . www.ConversationAgent.com

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