Is Your Customer Service Killing Your Brand?

Is Your Customer Service Killing Your Brand?

Customer relationships, retention, growth and referrals are vital links for any brand’s success in today’s Reputation Economy.  However, it only takes one negative experience to wipe-away the relational equity that had built up and for their business (money and loyalty) to go elsewhere.  Not to even mention the negative impact to your brand if/when the experience is shared via Social Channels.

In my opinion, customer service representatives need proactive empowerment, upgraded training and more resources from their leaders to reshape the reputation that this particular group has developed – whether it was honestly earned or they are guilty by association!

Customer service must be a mindset that transcends all organizational departments.  New idea? Nope.  But, think about some of your recent experiences in this area? Was that indeed a mindset? Did you get the sense that the person was empowered to make a positive impact?

But here’s the reality – We are ALL in the customer service business!  From the top to the bottom and everywhere in between.

Below are two stories that I believe illustrate the points above from two different perspectives – one being from the front-line employee and the other a more traditional customer service scenario with two completely different outcomes.

The $6,000 Egg:

Todd Duncan tells a phenomenal story about he and his wife’s experience at a local restaurant at which they were regulars and also used the facility for corporate events.

As the story goes, Todd makes a simple request to add a fried egg to his hamburger, but is repeatedly told by the server that they can’t fulfill his request because they may run out of eggs for the day’s special.

His disbelief turns to dismay when he starts to calculate how much money he, his wife and his company have spent at this specific restaurant, which he estimated to be roughly $6,000 in one year!  And he still can’t get a 35-cent egg for his burger!

This is a great example of how a front-line associate, representing the brand, was not able (or perhaps not empowered) to make a choice or decision that would have delighted a valuable customer – and in today’s terms, a valuable customer is someone who is spending money with you, period.  He no longer goes to that restaurant nor takes his corporate business there either.

How Lego Builds Legendary Reputation:

When you are 7 years old and love Legos, they are your world. Legos can be the cradle of imagination, creativity and expression. But, when you lose your favorite Lego character, it can force you to do something as a child that many adults, if given the choice between dealing with customer service or preparing their own taxes, would say, “where are those receipts?”

Customer Service, a necessary evil in many minds, a place where we go to wait on hold or worse yet, get bounced around to different departments in search of some type of resolution.

We Are All In The Customer Service Business!


So, young Luka emails Lego customer service and explains his situation unaware of the crap-shoot peril in which he just placed himself!

However, what happened next became not only a magical experience for him, but created a viral story that has become a great example of customer service and also has become iconic in Lego cultural lore. In fact, this happened in 2013, yet it still re-surfaces on Social Media channels as if it recently happened and elicits unbelievably positive responses from people who have read the story.

Below is the story of how Lego builds legendary reputation:














So, what’s the lesson for leaders?

We are ALL in the customer service business.

Considering that 65% of a company’s business comes from referrals, it’s critical that all employees are given the ability to not only resolve a customer issue, but also find a way to do it in a memorable way. Your employees should be empowered to create these types of emotional moments for your customers every day – and it should be celebrated.

Personal and brand reputations are forged in the tough times. And, for your customers, those tough times are when they come looking to you for help, guidance, alternatives or solutions. You’ve more than likely heard the phrase, “go the extra mile” as it relates to taking care of customers. I recently read a great perspective on that statement – walking the first mile in the customer experience is transactional, it’s where you have to work with them. It’s in going the extra mile where the relationship is created, strengthened and validated. In my opinion, that is where reputations are built.

Here are just a few sobering statistics related to customer service experiences and the opportunity you have to drive customer loyalty:

  1. 73% of people surveyed wouldn’t care if the brands they used disappeared from their lives. Source: Co.Exist
  2. It is 6 to 7 times more expensive to acquire new customers than it is to keep a current one. Source: White House Office of Consumer Affairs
  3. A customer is 4 times more likely to buy from a competitor if the problem is service related vs. price or product related. Source: Bain & Co.
  4. A 10% increase in customer retention levels result in a 30% increase in the value of the company. Source: Bain & Co

Other great (and scary) customer statistics can be found here:

I’m a big believer in visual cues. So, maybe place a Lego on your desk as a reminder that today you can build your and your brand’s reputation with just one action, one word, one Lego block!

Empower your teams to make a difference today and you’ll see the dividends tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that and the day after that and the day …