Every business is a service business.

We apply the tools that make service businesses stronger through better strategy, innovation, marketing and day-to-day management.

Thank you for joining the conversation.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Who cares how many billions served?

A marketing pet peeve of mine: companies that use how long they’ve been in business as a proof point of their expertise.

You see it in copy, usually as a slogan or a sub line, such as “serving customers since 1896.”, or “serving Linden, MI since 1939.” My least favorite form of this are those companies that add the experience of the employees and project that as the sum total of their expertise, “serving customers with over 210 years combined experience.” This type of experiential reference is usually, though not exclusively, done by small local businesses. (“Billions and Billions Served” is a variation on the theme)

These “proof points of experience” grate on me because they’re largely irrelevant to what I’m looking for in a service environment. Further, I want you to get my interaction right, and if you point to millions or decades worth of satisfied customers, I'm likely to get more frustrated that you couldn't do for me what you seemed to for them.

The services they represent can usually be characterized as out-of-date in their use of technology to enable the experience, in need of a massive service process overhaul, and often frustrating to do business with manually in an otherwise automated world. But for these faults, they also tend to have one major positive element in common: After having been in business for a reasonably long time, they usually get the people part of service right.

The way they do business may seem out of touch to those of us uberconnected, high speed, low drag customers looking for the shortest line in every encounter. But the high-touch, people-centric service models do fit with a large segment of customers that don’t place an absolute premium on their time and would rather have the confidence that comes with a reassuring, if slower, encounter.

As much as the “in service since” approach is a personal pet peeve, I concede that it is not a marketing vehicle intended for me, and likely works for the customer segment most small businesses covet.

No comments: