There’s No Substitute For Good Service

“Comcast and all other enslavement brands like them had better take note. Your days are numbered.  We are fed up with the lies, the betrayal and the avoidance.”
That’s one of many comments on Ad Age’s website in response to the perception of Comcast’s “abysmal service and callous treatment of its customers.”  “I will not be satisfied until Comcast is on its knees, weeping,” wrote Bob Garfield.  “In fact, I won’t be satisfied until it is heaving with sobs, squealing and hyperventilating with snot dripping from its nose.”

OK, it’s a bit much.  And I must say that my personal experience with Comcast was quite different.  But it’s also true that it should never have come to this. And it’s not just Comcast.  Sprint CEO Gary Forsee stepped down as customers fomented with frustration and fury over the company’s disrespect for its consumers and shocking service.

What’s really shocking though, is that these two companies combined spend some $2.3 billion on advertising.  And every dollar of it was wasted. What’s the point of pitching “Comcastic” service when that adjective has come to mean something radically different to some consumers?  And Sprint’s tagline, “Yes, you can,” takes on a different meaning in the age of consumer empowerment: Yes, you can change service, and no you don’t have to take it anymore.

Here’s a radical idea to Sprint and Comcast (and many other service providers): Why not spend even a portion of those marketing billions on upgrading consumer service rather than on empty claims? Instead of spending $1.78 billion on ads and $5 billion developing a new network matrix, all Sprint had to do was spend a few million dollars improving its customer service.  No advertising campaign can produce loyalty when you have a lousy product.

And it is a fact – consumers will find you out!
It’s always a good time to think about where your marketing investment for will generate the greatest ROI.  As Harvey Mackay wrote, “Customers really only want three things: service, service, and service.”  Or, as former General Mills chairman Harry Bullis said, “Forget about the sales you hope to make, and concentrate on the service you want to render.”
His point is that the more someone is focused on providing service to others, the more dynamic, more forceful and harder to resist they become.  How can we resist someone who is trying to help solve our problem?
Nothing is more important than good customer service. No customer service, and pretty soon no business. Our advice is to “value price,” and then make sure you include in your strategic planning how you are going to deliver the value.

Posted by John Harden  February 27th, 2009

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