Being an Account Coordinator, working day in and day out with clients, my job revolves around service. My focus is on fulfilling customer needs and I take that responsibility seriously. Which means that when I leave the office I don’t stop thinking about service, it’s on my mind wherever I go: to lunch, to the mall, pretty much anywhere I see a transaction taking pace.
That said, let me tell you that I haven’t been especially pleased by most of the service I’ve been witnessing lately. Take the sandwich place I went to for lunch last week. There I was in line, about three people back from the counter, when the sandwich maker stuck his head out from behind the folks in front of me and demanded to know what sort of sandwich I wanted. I thought it was rude. A few minutes later when I got to the front of the line, the fixin’s girl wasn’t any nicer. She bullied me to tell her what I wanted, then threw the veggies on and pushed the sandwich along the production line.
So alright, you might say, that’s a sandwich shop. But would you believe the same thing happened when I was shopping for vendors for my wedding reception? Most of these folks I dealt with — from the florists to the decorators to the caterers — made me feel as though I was putting them out by offering to give them my money.
All of these experiences got me thinking: these days, marketing is about a whole lot more than websites, newspaper ads and radio commercials. These days, it’s the lowest paid, front line employees that are on the leading edge of marketing and branding, not a marketing director in some corner office. If the people who are performing the actual customer contact don’t treat customers right, it doesn’t matter what’s going on in the boardroom, because those customers are never coming back.
I haven’t done a formal survey, but my own sense is that more and more retailers are forgetting how important it is to market on the micro level. And that’s a pity, because that’s where the most crucial part of the marketing game is played.