Archive for the ‘ Customer Service ’ Category

  • Friday, June 7th, 2013

  • BFF – brand friend forever

    With the world literally at our fingertips these days, consumers are free to make highly educated decisions about the products we purchase. The power of social media allows us to interact with brands like never before. Brands have almost limitless possibilities to make connections with us and we can tell them instantly whether we like them or we don’t.   (more…)


    A few months back I attended a BMA-Milwaukee roundtable discussion of corporate and agency marketers. One of the discussion topics I thought was particularly interesting was about agency collaboration. The corporate marketers on the panel commented on hiring multiple firms for different things and expected them to work in conjunction for the best interests of the brands they serve. As one might expect, there were some concerns expressed by the agency leaders on the panel.

    Although we see evidence to suggest that interest in specialized, tactical agencies is turning back to a preference for full-service capabilities, it stands to reason corporate marketers will still believe there is a need to divide tactical responsibilities or brand assignments among a team of agency partners. That is their prerogative, but let’s make no mistake … no agency owner likes to see money going to another firm and no agency completely trusts their competitor. What’s a corporate marketer to do? (more…)

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  • Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

  • Bugs in my Starbucks Frappuccino?

    Wondering how that Frappuccino got its strawberry hue? As noted in PCT magazine last month, Starbucks recently began using cochineal extract, made from crushed insects, to create that strawberry color. At the time, the company said it had switched to the extract in response to customers who wanted Starbucks to use more natural ingredients.

    As quickly as the announcement came, Starbucks drew flak from some vegetarians. And Starbucks responded to its customer’s concerns. They had made a mistake. 

    Cliff Burrows, president of Starbucks U.S., said in a blog post, “Our commitment to you, our customers, is to serve the highest quality products available. As our customers you expect and deserve better – and we promise to do better.”

    Starbucks listened to what its critics where saying – even many of whom were their own customers. In tough situations, a company can still come out on top by listening and responding quickly and appropriately. Even the most loyal customer may get upset at times, but will allow you the opportunity to correct the matter. In this case, Starbucks will be replacing the cochineal extract with tomato-based lycopene. The company expects the transition to be complete in the United States by the end of June, then everyone can enjoy a bug-free Strawberries & Creme Frappuccino made with natural ingredients. Bon appétit!

    As most of our clients sell their products through distribution, it comes as no surprise we are called upon to help push product in to these channels, and pull it through via end-user marketing. 

    Product managers and their direct salespeople have become increasingly occupied with new product introductions and have been forced to focus a greater portion of their time on higher margin brands.  As such, many other products suffer from lack of support or attention, and manufacturers have to rely more and more on distributor sales reps for incremental and ongoing sales.  (more…)

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  • Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

  • Running ragged

    I am a firm believer that “analysis paralysis” must be avoided. Obviously a reasonably educated decision made now is going to be better than the decision that never gets made, because “we just need more input.” That said, many marketers and business people in general have gone way too far the other direction. More value seems to being put on speed these days versus taking a little extra time to do the job well. For example, we hear the following comments a lot:

    • Get it done quickly.
    • I need an e-mail response now.
    • Just throw a couple of PowerPoint slides together.
    • What do you mean it took 6 hours to do that? (more…)

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    One of our partners in the publishing industry recently told me that with the way the economy has been (and continues to be) everyone has had to find places to cut. “It’s just a fact,” and he went on to say, “the trick is knowing how to cut smartly.” Some organizations have done just that – they’ve identified areas that their customers could do without.  These are the things they could cut without hurting their relationships with their customers. 

    It seems during this recession many companies have chosen one of the single worst areas to cut: customer service. For example, my local grocery store, part of a large chain, rarely staffs their customer service desk around the lunch hour. It’s annoying if you want to buy stamps or have to return something. How many lost lottery ticket sales to you figure that represents a day? (more…)

      | Comments Off on Cut service levels; cut your own throat

    Ah, customer service.  It’s the thing that every customer comes to adore or despise about everything from the grocery store to the dog groomer.  And it’s a little like how Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart defined obscenity:  I know it when I see it. 

    Or, as the case may be, I know it when it’s done poorly. (more…)

      | Comments Off on Customer service, where for art thou?

    It may be a little thing to some – or a source of major concern to others – but getting snubbed by a prospective business associate is a cause of increasing concern.  Many, if not all of us have fallen victim to the snub in one form or another, be it a lack of response to a phone conversation, voice message or e-mailed proposal (the “e-snub”) or mailed letter, the absence of a timely professional response is truly at an alarming level in corporations and small businesses.  (more…)

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  • Monday, February 15th, 2010

  • Brewing up a customer for life

    Throughout our day, we have interactions with various companies or brands. Most of the time, it’s so routine that we may not even think about it – whether it’s pumping gas, grabbing a bite to eat, running an errand or getting a cup of coffee. And when something positive happens, you can’t help but to re-evaluate that experience and be refreshed when you think a company has gone above and beyond to make your day. That’s exactly what I experienced the other day. (more…)