Help not Hype – Customer Service 2011

Continuing our series on service that generates brand ambassadors, enthused customers who naturally refer your company and its products or services, we must embrace the following facts:

  • People are more mistrustful than ever about hype and corporate ads.
  • Over seventy percent of people trust referrals from friends, colleagues and family.
  • Satisfying your customers expectations is not a competitive advantage whereas engaging customers and maintaining their loyalty is a powerful competitive advantage.


In the creation of customer satisfaction surveys, measurement and analysis of feedback and ratings, you have to be careful of assumptions.  It is imperative that you find out what drives the satisfaction ratings.  Retention alone is not a good indicator of customer satisfaction.

For example, I fly a lot.  Generally, I will use a service like Expedia or Kayak to procure the best values on airfare.  Using one carrier for my inbound flight, another carrier for my outbound trip.  I definitely have a few favorite airlines and the rest I tolerate.  Now, the airlines I tolerate may assume I’m a satisfied customer because they have retained a measure of my business over a sustained amount of time, but when and if my preferred airlines are available – I’ll pick them every time.  I refer people to my favorites, talk about their service during various presentations and look for their name/logo first when searching flight options.

So, satisfaction (fulfilling my expectation) is important – but it does not mean that I believe the hype that you use or that I am an engaged customer who refers business to you.


If “presenting” your services, community, or organization means that your sales team becomes a “talking brochure” – I tuned out at “Hello Deb, Let me tell you . . .”

Having survived through a rough economy – consumers are determined to get the best value for their hard-earned dollar, take pride in being very well-informed prior to starting a conversation with a salesperson, cynical and are turned-off by “corporate ads or sales talk”.

Being professional, friendly and having a strong measure of product knowledge means that you are on par with what a customer expects.

The good news for people who sell for a living?

Being authentic, exceptionally helpful* (*as defined by customer terms/not yours) and customer-centric in the solutions you offer are competitive advantages.  Being fake, offering mediocre service and/or generic solutions is a determent.

In fact, if you train your salespeople to view interactions with customers as a service experience (“how can I help you?“) instead of a “sales presentation” (“how can I sell you what I have?”) you are moving in the right direction.


Whether marketing or selling your product or services to me for the first time or when trying to retain me as a customer – you must engage me.  To engage me you have to communicate in ways that resonate. For example:

On Your Website Offer:

-Relational Stories (share with me – by telling me more about how your business got started, how you “give-back” to the community, how you recovered from a mistake, or what you’ve learned from customers like me and less about how great you are).

In Person or Online:

-Give Customers A Voice (invite me to speak my mind, partner with me to resolve issues or come up with great solutions and demonstrate active listening skills).


If you satisfy my expectations (at a minimum) and engage me on a relational level – in all likelihood – I will refer others to you in a natural way (natural for me – means online).  Make it easy for me to become an ambassador of your brand by:

-Making Referrals Simple (create e-postcards that I can send to people within my circle of influence, have a blog that I can refer my friends or colleagues to and/or an e-newsletter that I can forward. In short, provide me with online referral tools instead of paper flyers)

I would love to hear your thoughts – please comment below. Next time, we’ll explore  what American consumers want in exchange for their loyalty.

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    [...] To get gain some insight and statistics on traditional advertising (corporate-formulas) and the impact it has on today’s consumer,  read our last blog on “Help not Hype – Customer Service 2011” [...]