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Why Customer Service Is The New Marketing

I have posted a fair amount recently about the increasing importance of delivering great customer service - I was reminded of this again when I came across a reference to what has become known as the "United Breaks Guitars" phenomenon. United repeatedly refused to listen and take corrective action after damaging the guitars of Dave Carroll. He eventually wrote a song in response (see video below), and the rest is history with 6 Million views and untold damage to United.

In a world where consumer and peer reviews are available via social media, positive customer experiences become amplified and produce word-of-mouth referrals. On the flip side, negative customer experiences become amplified as well and can be kryptonite to even great companies. Compare and think about the impact of the two videos below.

Customer Service is the New Marketing

It's not rocket science. Listen to your customers. Try to deliver value to them and give them the tools to share their positive experiences. When they have negative experiences, be the first to hear them, take responsibility, and "make it right". You'll be surprised at how many of them you can convert into advocates.

There are no excuses. There are great tools available that cost almost nothing and enable you to be found, listen, and engage your customers in minutes a day.

So step up and give the gift of superb customer service this holiday season. Your customers and your bottom-line will thank you for it!



  • online engagement
  • Customer Service
  • social media

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  • Nov 19 Posted 7 years ago CurtisLipsey

    I loved reading this post.  It seems its been a long time since I've read a post like this.  I think we get so caught up in the excitement of search engine marketing that sometimes companies tend to forget the basic customer service principals that are so important in today's marketplace.

    I used to work for AT&T Advertising & Publishing as a "Search Engine Marketing Specialist" and I couldn't believe the lack of customer service that was provided to Yellowpage advertisers that were experiencing their first search engine marketing campaigns ever. 

    Small businesses need the individual attention and guidence when running search engine campaigns, and I felt that they simply were treated like a number.  Large corporate companies, in my opinion, will never be able to provide the basic customer service for advertisers that they need to confidently enter the world of internet advertising.  This is the main reason I left corporate america in order to give the control back to the local small business owner. 

    Thanks for the post!

  • Nov 16 Posted 7 years ago AlexHawkinson Apparently United Airlines is still not listening - post by John Battelle this weekend on the issue.
  • Nov 15 Posted 7 years ago AlexHawkinson Here's relevant and related discussion around Maclaren's epic stroller recall and lack of attention to social media - What They Didn't Teach You at Harvard...About Crisis Management and Social Media.
  • Robin Carey's picture
    Nov 14 Posted 7 years ago RobinCarey This is exactly the focus of Social Media Today's newest conversation, at  Please mosey over and join up there as well...
  • Nov 13 Posted 7 years ago AlexHawkinson @ Y. King - you should have them watch this video on the culture at Zappos.
  • Nov 13 Posted 7 years ago Anonymous (not verified) I really appreciate your comments and those who respond. 

    I have a question, for everyone. I work for a small yet international chocolate and confections company. I recently joined to oversee our company's website with shopping cart. We make great products that many enjoy and the owners want to expand their reach via more web sales. Their policy, since the beginning over 4 years ago, is when a customer orders, they require them to accept a "heat waiver" policy whereby the company is not responsible for any heat damaged chocolates caused through shipping.  In addition, they do not make much effort to protect the product during shipping because the cost to do so is "too expensive".  I have seen them look at the weather map and if it's hot, contact the customer and tell them their order is at risk, and ask if we would like to delay shipment until its cooler.
    Comments please, I need objective input on this type of "customer service". Thanks!

  • Nov 12 Posted 7 years ago AlexHawkinson As I spoke about recently at Twtrcon, I think the essentials are:
    1. Get online and keep it simple with a conversational hub that you own so that you're not bouncing around and being inconsistent.
    2. Be human and authentically talk about what you are passionate about. That is what will make you remarkable.
    3. Connect where your audience is - don't make it hard for them to reach you however they want to. Be where your customers are rather than forcing them to come to you.
    4. And a half for extra emphasis - LISTEN and RESPOND and SERVE consistently using tools that help you to focus on the people and conversations that matter most.

    We believe a lot in those inherent, holistic needs, and that drives a lot of our work in terms of what we are trying to build into our platform (of which my profile is an example).

  • Nov 12 Posted 7 years ago JohnPaulAguiar Everything is about customer service now.  With so much info and resources on the net. If you don't keep your customers happy, someone else will.

    I posted about making your blog your customer service center a few weeks ago.

    Great Post.

  • Nov 12 Posted 7 years ago AlexHawkinson Thanks!  I'll be posting a series of thoughts on where things go from here on my main profile at to try to distill the learning from the 400 thousand small businesses that we've had the opportunity to work with on our first gen platform.  In a nutshell though, I still think it's early days and we'll see a year of small businesses ramping up with some basic mechanics of social media, including:
    • The emergence of social media hubs - a presence for a business that is above the level of any single social network.  That's what we're working to create with our platform.
    • Small businesses embracing their roots and starting talk passionately about their businesses online.  The core form will be interactive light blogs that are easy to use but rich enough in content and depth.
    • Enough people getting results (positive and negative) that they will start to leverage tools to really listen to and respond to customers online.
    I hope this is helpful!
  • Nov 12 Posted 7 years ago ScottKrahling "It's not rocket science." I love this quote. You've really nailed it with this post and the Dave Carroll example is classic.

    Where do you think social media goes from here?

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