Is the Customer always right?

Well it depends on whether you've made brand promises that you no longer deliver against I guess.

If you operate in the retail sector you'll have been told that 'service' is what differentiates your company from your competitor.

In today's modern world if your company has a big customer service team who are kept busy it's probably because you're neglecting the one thing that makes us all choose one brand/company over another.

That one thing is 'how does this make me feel' - this is my emotional reaction to you, and it has a huge impact on our future (or not) relationship - it's what I call an outside in point of view because it's driven by the customer, not an internalised (inside out) view which is driven by the brand/company.

Or put in business speak - "what did I just experience".

Companies spend sizeable budgets on customer recruitment activity, especially since the internet came of age in the mid to late 90's, up until then marketing's (and the external creative agencies) role was to design eye catching campaigns that could be rolled out via a variety of multi-media channels such as newspapers, magazines, billboards, and of course Cinema, Radio, and Television, all very glamorous.....

Then came the internet, along with the ability for marketing to move from a cost and service department to become the power driver of measurable, tangible, real time customer recruitment and revenues, a true business unit - suddenly there was an explosion of data for them to ponder, refined targeting was now front of mind, and a whole set of companies grew up to service this demand.

For those that can recall, one of the first major data collection storage, and intelligence companies in the UK wasn't 'Cambridge Analytica' it was in fact the company that helped supermarket chain 'Tesco' to understand how to drive more footfall, and increase basket size, this was all from a ground breaking innovative company called 'Dunhumby', who by rights should have gone on to become THE de-facto organisation to drive eCommerce intelligence around the world, but that's a story for another day.

When I speak to companies who are blatantly under performing on social media, one of the anecdotal comments that always pops up is the concerns they have about customers using the platforms to voice their opinions, and in particular the disgruntled ones are of even more concern.

However, simply removing yourself from the 'social conversation' doesn't really dilute those conversations about your brand does it?

Once we've explored the myths, and fears about what a 'social strategy' for business leaders is it becomes clear that the brands we work with realise that they can gain so much more than it just being a place for them to carry over the 'advertise and promote' mentality that is the intrusive ad market.

But....If the underlying product and service is broken, no amount of social media and advertising will generate a positive view about who you are.

Today, you need an exceptional sales team. You need to have a strong marketing team. You need a responsive customer service team. By comparison, you may only need a “good enough” product. Don’t get me wrong: You can’t just have the best customer experience in town and serve terrible food or a sub-par cup of coffee — or sell a product that doesn’t work".

The fact is that most value from a client/customer is realised after all of this exciting, sexy, upfront recruitment sales activity, but only if you and your company can adopt a different mindset which is based on 'recruit and nurture'

Let's be honest with ourselves, retail adopted the homogenisation and the blandness of 'corporate multiple retailing' long before the internet kicked it in the balls, add to this the constant pressure on rising cost, the not very environmentally friendly splurge of fast fashion and a simple lack of 'retail theatre has led to this opportunity to re-invent what was.

The unabated rise of online shopping now via Apps and mobile, along with shopping via social media, and Gen Z (with their parents) using tech platforms rather than the 'Mall' to go and do their shopping, it's obviously a difficult time for retailers, regardless if you're online or offline.

Consumers (you/me) don't think in process terms like companies and brands tend to do, we can have a great process but if the overall 'experience' doesn't live up to what your shiny intrusive adverts promised me then next time I'll go elsewhere, and chances are I'll probably share those thoughts on social media, just like the lady in the link below.

My take on this after many years in multi-channel retail is that customer support teams are there to 'prop up' really crap internal alignment around the brand promise and what the 'customer experience's' - and its hugely wasteful for everyone involved.