Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Why customer service supersedes marketing

Today I went to pick up stuff from the cleaners. The owner came out to greet me. The lady had my shirts before I even walked through the door. And she pulled the tag off because she knows I hate having my name pinned to my shirts.

That is why I don't go to Zips.

I took my kid to school and the principal was there greeting everyone hello. Standing out in the chill. It is not a marketing ploy. It is how they are...they create community.

In the Torah the story is told of Abraham who was fanatical about greeting and caring for guests to his home. Complete strangers. In my family when you have a guest you focus totally on them, you give them food ("I won't go away till you take some"), it is all about being welcoming.

The Torah is full of admonitions to treat strangers well. We are not supposed to be nice only to our friends and family.

At its core customer service is about welcoming strangers as friends. It is not so much what you do for them (the service itself) but rather welcoming them into your tribe.

What builds a brand is the collective experience people have had as they encountered your tribe, both as strangers and return guests.

Marketing can't match this kind of brand-building at all. It can create awareness and excitement, but it can't replace the positive associations built on enduring relationships.

This Rosh HaShana I read the English part of the prayerbook. It said that G-d wants us to serve the Divine by being kind to each other. This is the same thing the Buddhists say - look at whether your behavior is helpful or unhelpful to other living beings.

In the end great brands leave you feeling connected. Connections are built through customer service. And the principles of customer service can be found freely in religious texts.

Have a good day everyone, and good luck!