The Best Marketing is Good Customer Service

Hello, darlings. The Genius is back, after a much-deserved hiatus. And she’s cranky as ever.

The source of my present irritated state is none other than the Grand-daddy of marketing faux pas: Crappy Customer Service.

And believe me when I say I’m being GENEROUS by calling it crappy.

Here’s the story:

My family and I recently embarked on a hunt for a new home. In Boston, this process can be particularly excruciating this time of year: it’s freezing, bleak, and even the perkiest of realtors has a hard time faking enthusiasm as they show you prospective new homes.

(Plus, there’s that whole nasty “fee” thing… where you get to pay the idiots realtors the equivalent of a month’s rent for their lackluster attitude, poor grammar, and even worse breath. Fabulous.)

The last time we satisfied our masochistic urges by going on an apartment hunt, we discovered a nifty little company called GrandCentralApartments.com. Instead of raking you over the coals and giving you a hefty dose of Masshole attitude, these guys ask you to pay a reasonable ($250 at the time) fee to get access to their database of no-fee apartment listings; and they back that with a good deal of “customer service” promises, including a guarantee that if you DON’T find a place by your “deadline” (whatever that may be), they’ll refund the money.

Sounds great, right?

And it was. We found a wonderful apartment with an incredible landlord for a very reasonable rent. And we only had to pay the $250 “fee” to use the service… and did NOT have to endure any ghastly realtors.

Having had such a good experience, I thought I might just give them another try… So I went to their website, filled out the “free access” form (where you can get a preview of the listings that meet your criteria; to get full access, you have to pay the fee), didn’t see anything earth-shattering, and moved on to the next task.

Two hours later… my phone rings. It’s someone from [surprise!] GrandCentralApartments.com! He’s perky as a circus clown on speed, and he’s VERY excited to help me find a new home. We have a short chat during which I explain that I didn’t see much of interest on the site, but that I might still use their service.

He presses on with the annoying, “When will you decide? When can I call you again?” speech. Ugh.

So I tell him that it will be no sooner than Monday. “Don’t call me, I’ll call you.” Politely, of course.

Later that day… the phone rings again.

Guess who?

ANOTHER staff person from GrandCentralApartment.com! Hooray! And he’s just as excited about helping me. In fact, now that he knows I’m a “returning customer,” he’s even more joyful. Yipee!

I explain to this jackass individual that it’s not a good time for me to speak with him (I’m in the middle of dinner, for God’s sake… and expecting an important call from my mother… in fact, I only answered the phone because the called ID said “BLOCKED”—just like my mother’s does), and I reiterate the part about how I already told his colleague that I wouldn’t decide anything until Monday…

So he says to me, “Can I just make one suggestion?”

And I reply, “Sure, if it’s quick.”

And he says [BRACE YOURSELF]: “If it’s not a good time to talk, then don’t answer your phone.” CLICK.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes, folks, he actually hung up on me. Wait—to be 100% clear—first, he was ANNOYING and intrusive, then, he was RUDE, and THEN, he hung up on me.

The lesson? (Besides “never answer your phone”)

No matter how good your marketing, no matter how clever your SMM campaigns, ad creative, or branding; no matter how strategic and innovative your plan… you can’t forget the basics. And good customer service is about as basic a marketing strategy as you can get.

“Treat others the way you wish to be treated.” —Most of us learned that in kindergarten. Sadly, it’s a lesson too many companies—large and small—promptly and completely forgot.

As for the moron man who forgot himself and pressed the “end” button on his overpriced Motorola, I say only this: I FORGIVE YOU. It’s little people, like you, that keep my services in demand and my bank account fat.

Fuck Thank you very much, and have a nice day!

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