I was in a meeting last week with a new client – we were discussing how the administrative staff might deal with incoming calls. The CEO remarked “let’s take that offline, it has nothing to do with marketing.” This person really doesn’t like me, so at first I thought he had read my latest brand rant but then I realized he was 100% serious. So what’s up with this disconnect between marketing and customer service? I’ve got some ideas about it. Love to hear yours!
Lots of marketing people have never worked in sales. I started out carrying a bag and I know what it’s like when you have to actually face an unhappy customer. Marketing people may never have had to look that mad guy or gal in the face and apologize. I’ve had managers yell at me, papers tossed across the desk at me…it’s humiliating and I’ll avoid it at all costs. A marketing person who has never sat through one of those meetings probably thinks their job ends when the campaign goes out.
Lots of people who buy franchises have never work in front of customers. I remember a former IBM engineer who didn’t have time for an interview because he was painting the break room and office at his dry cleaning business. And the guy who owns a window washing service who acted as though I was being unreasonable for not wanting his workers, who had arrived 3 hours late, to go to lunch after being there 30 minutes. If you haven’t experienced customer interaction at the consumer level, it’s usually hard to stomach complaints.
Sometimes the head of the organization comes out of operations, where process is king. This person doesn’t understand that unhappy customers can kill your brand. They believe a process can cure every problem. And they REALLY don’t understand how social media can accelerate that bad word of mouth.
One of the first things I learned as a rookie salesperson was the old adage “It takes hours to get a new customer and only minutes to lose an old one.” Those owners and managers who don’t put customer service as one of the top factors in building a brand are the ones that lose their business in the long run.