Monday, September 10, 2007
Be a service partner, not a service roach
Becky Carroll wrote a great piece over at the CUSTOMERS ROCK blog called "Its Cool to be a Geek". The article is about how to brand and market a service a ethereal as IT.
One of Becky's suggestions, and the one thing that caught my eye and made me read twice was the part about "tie results to business goals". It seems to me this is done so very little that anyone who adopts this strategy will definitely be the purple cow. Wouldn't it be cool if your vending machine vendor came to you and suggested you both sit down and go over reports such as "vending-machine down" time" products offered vs. products wanted by customers, etc. A program like this puts you on the customer's side of the table. It also provides you with the opportunity to show the customer what it is you are doing to improve your service and meet their needs.
One reason a marketing practicioner, service provider (or better yet, roach) might not want to include this sort of strategy is because they would not want their customer to know what was going on, which is the feeling I get from various service providers. They operate on the theory "What my customers don't know won't hurt them". If the light gets turned on, go run and hide. This might work for awhile, but over time, your customers will start to get the impression something is just not quite right. Then your competitor walks in, works with the already uneasy feeling your customer has about the service you are providing, and signs up your customer...much to your surprise.
Be transparent, be your customer's partner...show, reveal, suggest and recommend. Let them know about the problems you have found and the solutions you have implemented or suggest being implemented. Be the hero, not a back-door in-and-out, hope-no-one-sees-me type of vendor. If you operate in this fashion, don't be surprised if you get squashed like a bug.