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Customer Service IS the New Marketing

March 10, 2010

Harry Gordon Selfridge, founder of London’s Selfridges store, coined the phrase “The Customer is Always Right”.  Selfridge wanted to make the customer feel special and give quality customer service. Over the last one hundred years, this theory in customer service seems to have fallen by the wayside.

One quick search of this phrase on Google will reveal that many people do not feel that the customer is always right. Of course, there are certainly times when the customer is not right, but in this new era of technology when any customer can quickly tell literally millions of people about a positive or negative experience with your company, maybe it is better to err on the side of caution.

Here are three examples how mistreated customers voiced their stories over social media:

  • United Airlines: Passenger Dave Carroll was flying from Nova Scotia to Nebraska on United Airlines. Someone at United Airlines broke his $3,500 guitar. Following the incident of his guitar’s mishandling, he made many phone calls to United representatives, but no one at United was willing to do anything for him. His response? Dave Carroll made a video. Actually, not just one video but three videos entitled “United Breaks Guitars” to be posted online. The first video was posted July 6 and in the first 48 hours went viral with more than 24,000 views.
  • Southwest Airlines: Kevin Smith, writer-director, was removed from a Southwest Airline flight because he is too heavy to fit into one seat. Smith is aware of his weight and normally buys two seats for himself; however this circumstance arose because the airline didn’t put his two seats next to each other. He was able to lower the armrests and fit into one chair, but the Southwest crew still insisted he leave the plane. Smith, with a movie about to come out, certainly was in the spotlight and has a variety of mediums to share his story.
  • It has become so easy to voice negative opinions to the world that someone created a Twitter profile with the sole intent of Retweeting United Airline complaints of customer service with the slogan “We Tweet & Twell”.

Social media has brought a new voice and empowerment to customers everywhere. If you treat them with anything but the highest of standards, not only do they have the ability to, but they will tell the world. It is more important than ever that you address any issues your customers have immediately, monitor the activity surrounding your company in all social media spheres so that you can respond and resolve any customer complaints, and insist on giving your customers top of the line customer service.

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