A Guest Post by Barry Moltz
Customer Service is job number one. We have heard this rallying cry within companies forever. Ironically, few of them have been able to implement it. The level of service that most businesses offer is pathetic.
However, this has been changing. With the advent of social media, customer service is now the new marketing. It has become the only sustainable competitive advantage and the current way to keep loyal customers. Advertising and company directed public relations can no longer control the conversation on what people are saying about your company and products. Small businesses have turned to social media tools to monitor what is being said about them and to get involved in that conversation. There are many well known examples of companies that are good at this such as Southwest Airlines, Peachtree, and Lands End.
However, there is now a place beyond great customer service that can even bind the loyalty your customers even more closely to your business. That place is called community.
If you look at the mission or purpose of most companies, it inevitably talks about providing a great product and excellent customer service. For example, Dominoâs Pizzaâs mission is
âExceptional People On A Mission To Be The Best Pizza Delivery Company In The World’. This is part of Domino’s ‘Vision and Guiding Principles’ including these statements:
* ‘We Demand Integrity
* Our People Come First.
* We Take Great Care Of Our Customers.
* We Make Perfect 10 Pizzas Every Day.
* We Operate With Smart Hustle and Positive Energyâ
However, the starting point for any small business owner is to have a great product, people and service. In order to be successful today, the owner needs to go much further.
Nick Sarillo has been running his pizza restaurants, Nickâs Pizza and Pub in the suburbs of Chicago for over 15 years. When Nick started, he wanted to have a purpose to his small business beyond offering a great product with great service. So, Nick created âPizza on Purposeâ. The mission statement that he came up with 15 years ago for his restaurants was:
âOur Dedicated Family Provides This Community an unforgettable Place; to Connect with your Family and Friends, to Have Fun and to Feel at Homeâ.
Notice that his mission statement does not talk about having great food or friendly people to serve the customer. Nick set out to use his restaurants to create a community where people can connect. Isnât this the goal that we have for our social media business efforts? Nick put this in practice 15 years ago. His restaurants now support over 40 organizations in his community through fund raisers.
Nickâs small business gives something beyond great customer service. He offers a community for his customers and a way for them to connect with each other. When they are at Nickâs, they feel good about themselves, their community and his business. As a result, there is no longer a dividing line between his company and his customers. With his business, Nick has created a community which just happens to be a pizza restaurant. This is similar to Zappos, where they are not a company that sells just shoes, but a company that delivers great service regardless of their product.
There is no way to create more loyal fans than for them to be part of your community and have them raving about you. Forget creative marketing. Forget great customer service. Go to the place called community and your business will have its most sustainable competitive advantage: The raving loyalty of its customers.
Thanks, Barry. Customer service with deep ties to the community is truly the competitive advantage. I’m so with you on that!
–ME “Liz” Strauss
Work with Liz on your business!!