Friday, July 24, 2009

Some thoughts about marketing channels.

There's a lot in the press of late about Depression 2.0 perhaps coming to an end and the impact such an end will have on the advertising industry. Many have written about a rebound of television advertising, or a shift to online media, or the continued surge in mobile advertising and social networks.

Amid all this blather, marketers and their agencies are ignoring perhaps the most important marketing channel of all: Customer Service. That is, how does a brand work when you are actually interacting with them.

Now, according to most TV spots, there's always a blonde--a pretty one at that--on the other end of the phone. Never someone from the sub-continent who couldn't pronounce 'Tannenbaum' if you tutored him for a month. Big box retailers always have some helpful fellow in a blue vest who can help you rewire your whole home in 20 minutes or less, without blowing a literal or figurative fuse. Car dealers are always helpful, never hard-sell shysters. And there's always someone perky behind the counter to accurately ring up your charges and speed you on your way.

Unfortunately in real life, brands don't work the way their commercials say they do. So when you do interact with a brand not only are you disappointed by the service they provide, you also feel lied to.

My two cents say this: if you want to fix your brand, don't just try to create a better TV commercial--that's not enough. Try to create a better brand.


Teenie said...

I blogged about my frustrating experience trying to get someone to secure my router awhile back. In fact, when we moved in July, almost every, single time I had to call customer service anywhere I got the runaround--or else they never fulfilled my request (I've had to call back 2 companies to give them my new address--again).

I agree with you 100%. All this blah-blah on conversing with brands should be focussed on the actual conversations we have with a company. Or on the long, Dial 1/ Dial 9 process that gets in the way of the actual conversations. Those interactions are way more personal than any ad out there--yet that's where consumers are treated like cattle.

Tore Claesson said...

I went to Home Depot recently. it took a while before I spotted a guy with a Home Depot badge. He had no clue where what I was looking for might be but vaguely pointed in a couple of directions and muttered something my hearing couldn't quite pick up. I hear well by the way. The second guy with an HD apron was in another department and didn't know. Or didn't want to know? Customer info was neither manned nor womanned by the way. The ads say differently. They claim expertise and the shop looks so lovely in the spots. It took me more than half hour to find what i needed. It's big store.

I went to Best Buy to look for a cable. The two representatives I immediately spotted had nothing to do other than chat with each other. However, they did not recognize that I wanted their help, despite circling them, waving my arms, helloing them, etc. I left. Best Buy also runs ads with people who really know their stuff, the say, and really care. They say

At Target I did indeed find the cable I was looking for. To my surprise, as I had rather expected to find it at Best Buy, which specializes in such stuff after all. Now. I found it without help as I know where the electronics department in Target is. And my experience is that they don't have visible employees anyway. Service? Well, I did manage to check-out. But only three or os of perhaps twenty check-out stations were populated.

Well, no wonder one after the other hit the dust. The only way to find what you need nowadays is online. Which is kind of sad.

By the way, Guitar Center's online service is pretty decent. Aside from having a habit sending incomplete stuff they at least apologizes and send new stuff quickly. Their physical stores? Okay people work there - out-of work musicians mostly I think - but they're too few when there's more than three customers in the store.

Laura said...

And forget our corporate brands of our own employers. I called for "IT help" recently and had such a hard time understanding the woman and she couldn't understand me. She kept on saying her same scripted words.
Then I asked her where she was and she said she isn't supposed to say, but that her call center is in Costa Rica.
I won't bore you with the frustration...but the issue took 2 days and lots of billable hours to resolve.