A great advertising campaign can be a wonderful thing for a company. The best ones get people talking, get them in stores, and get them in the purchase funnel. Yes, a well thought out, carefully executed campaign can be a great thing. There’s another piece of marketing that many advertisers overlook: customer service. Customer service can reinforce an already great campaign, or it can make all your hard work worth nothing.
Here’s a question: What will have more of an impact on your customers? Motivating, memorable, and creative ads or negative consumer feedback? Chances are your consumers will remember your ads and they may even remember them in a positive way, but if negative consumer feedback is polluting the air, your targets will be less likely to respond to your advertising. This may seem obvious and elementary, but even the largest of companies have over looked this.
The cellphone industry is full of these scenarios right now. Many companies are producing some great ads, but their customer service is so bad that the great ads are almost having a negative affect. These ads lead consumers to believe something about the company and have an expectation of the type of service they will be receiving if they join a cell plan. If their expectations aren’t met, there might be a painful backlash of negativity, one that might even spread to existing customers, causing them to pick-up and leave for another provider. Today, one carrier known for “can you hear me now?” announced that it is doubling its cancellation fee, now up to $350! This will cause new customers to think twice before inking a contract. Other providers are closing stores left and right only to have third party retailers that occupy small kiosks at malls take over the sale of their hardware. A national survey was taken over the spring showing that only 40% of users are satisfied with their cell service, while 80% said they would change providers today if they did not have to pay a penalty. It does not appear that these clever “more bars, it’s the network” type of ads are delivering on their promises.
The opposite can be said for OfficeMax, who has received the SQM Highest Customer Satisfaction Award this month. This award is given to companies with the highest overall customer service satisfaction rating. Still the office supply chain has been facing serious financial trouble. Partly due to the economy, it appears that OfficeMax is in trouble of not turning a profit in the next 12 months. OfficeMax has also not done any heavy advertising and has been beat out by the clever Easy Button ads of Staples.
When looking at how to best build your business, it’s important to realize that advertising is only a piece of the pie. By taking a close look at everything from price structure, to online efforts, to traditional media, to brand positioning, to customer interaction, you must understand that even the best ad is not the only thing that will keep your current customers around. A great strategy must come first, one that encompasses all aspects of your business and how consumers perceive your brand.