We used to call it customer service, and it really only mattered at fancy restaurants and AT&T. Today, great service is no longer a nice-to-have for brands; it is essential, like a product, a package, and a digital presence. Don’t expect it from only fancy restaurants. Demand it from the brands you use everyday, or find a new brand. (AT&T is a long way off).
More and more these days, it seems that employees are helping to define a brand, and that’s not just in the service industry. Consumers interact with something beyond an “identifying mark;” they interact with brand employees. Great brands today realize that human capital is as important as the product itself.
Zappos.com, the online shoe retailer, built its brand on service, and is well known for weeding out new employees with a $1,000 offer to quit. And Apple impresses me most not with their products and design, but with—get this—employees who know what the hell they’re talking about AND want to help me! Who’d a thunk it?
So what about the service in the service industry? Consumer banks have a hard time differentiating themselves from one another, what with uber-smart ATMs, online banking, free checking, and minimal interest. These are all offered by most banks, and with mostly the same quality.
However, when it comes to my personal finance, it’s good to know there’s a human being back there. I’m a Chase bank client, and am likely to remain one, but not because of the “take a picture of my check” deposit system. Rather, it’s because of the amazing over-the-top service I recently received. Not long ago, unbeknownst to me, an ATM malfunctioned and my check was spit out onto the floor. An assistant branch manager found it days later. She tracked me down by manually calling all Richard Foxes in the system, alerted me, and safely deposited my check.
The cherry on top was last week when I received a confirmation letter in the mail from the assistant branch manger, securing both my identity and my loyalty.