Valentine’s Day is around the corner. If you make gourmet chocolates or sell long-stemmed roses, you’re pretty comfortable with the language of love. If you are the marketing manager for an industrial manufacturer…well, “love” may not be part of your everyday business vocabulary.
Perhaps it should be. The question to ask is, “How do you turn people who LIKE your brand into people who LOVE your brand?”
There are marketing experts who will tell you that it’s all about mastering social media; that getting people to love your brand is about finding new ways to be relevant, funny, clever, engaging and entertaining online. No doubt, social media can elevate awareness for your company and your brand and pave the way to new customers and new markets.
Social media can also backfire spectacularly when acquiring online “likes” becomes disassociated from basic, real-world customer service.
Case in point: I’ve had my personal and business accounts with the same national bank for more than a decade. The helpful employees showcased on the bank’s social media pages are nothing like the staff at our local branch who are disempowered from providing customers with any real service solutions. After two weeks of phone tag (the branch’s employees do not have voice mail) and another 45-minutes spent waiting at the branch, I was finally able to see “my” designated personal banker who, it turns out, didn’t remember me, and who said that he was not authorized to reverse the $10 service fee that had become the tipping point for my dissatisfaction. I’ve decided to let the bank have its $10 service fee, while I start the process of moving my accounts over to my local credit union.
In Lee Cockerell’s book, The Customer Rules, the former Disney executive shares 39 simple yet profound rules for “serving customers with such consistency, efficiency, creativity, and sincerity that they’ll never want to do business with anyone else.” His rules cover simple basics, from treating customers like family members to always being available, dressing professionally, listening carefully, being generous, and providing employees with the training and the authority to make things right.
When it comes to technology, Cockerell’s advice isn’t “Have a Facebook page” or “Grow your Twitter followers.” Instead, he tells business owners to “Have a geek on your team” (rule #29), i.e., someone who is plugged-into technology but also understands the value of 1:1 customer service.
“A techie with empathy is what you’re after, someone who can imagine walking in the shoes of your customers and sees the ways technology can be used to give them exactly what they want.”
Do you have a geek on your team? If you do, be sure to give them a big hug this Valentine’s Day.