Before evolving into a marketing executive, R F Timberlake & Company's president began his award-winning media career as a broadcast and print journalist helping the news industry to gravitate towards more in-depth and investigative reporting. Frank Timberlake taught broadcast and advertising, managed numerous political campaigns and operated media outlets with Linda, his wife and business partner. He has never been shy about speaking his mind. Having limited Frank to the subject of marketing, we hope you will enjoy Frankly Speaking, a marcom blog.
"TO GET THE WOW FROM YOUR CLIENTS, START WITH GREAT CUSTOMER SERVICE!" By Eric Mastel
Eric Mastel is a guest blogger and VP/Market Manager for Cumulus in Savannah, GA. In addition to being an accomplished broadcast manager and owner, Eric is a published author who will soon add another book to the shelf. (I invite others who are passionate about good marketing communications and improving our industry and business to submit guest blogs!)
I often rant about customer service; I don't why I guess it's just my passion. When I do any kind or training or speaking to new sellers in our industry, I would always ask when the last time they received good customer service was. What amazed me was the lack of response. Many people sincerely could not remember, and they remained silent. Others spoke of a pleasant experience months before like a grandparent reminiscing about the "good old days".
Good, efficient service should be a must for business to be competitive, yet I don't see very much of it today. From my unscientific analysis, I guess even mediocre service is now acceptable. As a culture are we accepting cheap prices at the expense of service? Certainly there are more "big box" stores than ever before, so I must deduce that cheap is chic for most of us, even though we profess to hate the experience.
There just has to be a median between price and service. I personally think good customer service is only the beginning. Businesses need a WOW factor. I don't care what size the organization is, it has to engage and impress like no other business in its market space.
When I was growing up, having more than 30 flavors of ice cream was cool enough for a little kid. Now, certain companies greet their customers with a chant and strive to make the cone experience something to remember. Today, I gladly pay the premium price for a good product and a distinctive experience. Organizations that understand the value of exceptional experience are destined for success.
Do I think that the teenage cashiers at the local food mart should start singing happy birthday, when they check my ID on my special day? No, that's not a good idea at all, but there are other ways to create memorable experiences.
Maybe the good old days shouldn't be so old. What's old is new, right? Why not try to address customers by their names? Now that's a novel idea. Maybe we should go a step further and actually be empathetic to a customer's needs. Holy cow, I think I am onto something.
But you the manager, the supervisor, the person in charge, must constantly motivate and encourage everyone in the company to remember those frequent customers or listeners or callers to the stations. That means it has to start with you.
When I visit New York, I generally like to stay at the New York Palace Hotel. It is by far one of the nicest and most expensive hotels in the city. Why on earth would I, shell out extra dollars for a hotel room? Well, quite frankly it's the experience. I could very easily stay in town for less, but when I make my reservation and they discover that I have stayed there before, the Palace earns its premium. Upon arrival, I am greeted by name when the taxi pulls up. The doorman says with a smile, Mr. Mastel it is great to see you again, welcome home". I would then be taken to the reception area. While I was comfortably seated, the attendant would immediately address me by name as though she remembered me. After the pleasantries, she would give me a package.
The package contained the customary door keys, and of course the mini bar key, but it also included personalized business cards and stationary. On the cards were my name (spelled correctly), the hotel's address and the phone number for the direct line into my room. The whole experience was very well coordinated and exciting. I felt like someone important.
This isn't just about knowing your customers by name; it is about going above and beyond to make your organization stand out. You have to start it. Do not expect others to do what you don't do. That just isn't going to happen, YOUR EMPLOYEES, YOUR PEERS AND EVEN YOUR CLIENTS, will reflect the attitude that you present.
Find your comfort zone, your station's comfort zone and develop those strengths to ensure that every last person who comes in contact with your business remembers the experience.
Sorry, there is no formula. There is no magic pill. Frankly Speaking, there is only your desire to go from mediocre and boring to WOW!