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theswaynestertheswaynester subscriber Posts: 15 Bronze Level Member
edited April 2006 in Marketing
I wanted to direct your attention to Joel`s post yesterday about customer service.http://www.startupnation.com/blog/entry ... TRY_ID=271</A> (I hope this url works...)In this corner: wearing baseball jersey and nursing what seems to be a six-pack-of-"artsy-fartsy" beer a day habit.Joel... Mr. Nice Guy Customer Service.And in this corner: wearing an evil grin of the devil`s advocate. The Swaynester.I think that the product is just as important.
What do you all think?


  • keyconkeycon subscriber Posts: 34
    I believe both points have merit - great products and great customer service. In the blog, the 1st commenter speaks of an awesome pizza parlor with great pizza and lousy customer service. The beer/wine store in Jeff`s blog does not make his product like the pizza parlor does. So, the beer/wine store is basically selling a commodity and the exceptional customer service sets it apart. Yes, pizza is a commodity these days, but real pizza lovers will bypass 10`s of Papa Johns, Dominos, Pizza Huts, etc. to buy and eat great pizza - even if the CS is more like customer non-service.
    Me personally - give me both! Like most Americans I know, I`m pretty sick and tired of customer non-service and this will turn me off quicker than below average product. Just my opinion.
  • RichardBuggyRichardBuggy subscriber Posts: 4
    I recently read an excellent book called The Innovators Dilema about why good companies fail. Part of it explains the product versus service question posed by The Swaynester. Product detemines choice while your needs aren`t being met (or are only being met by one product). Once multiple products meet your needs you begin to judge them on other factors such as price, convenience and service.
    If you think about it this applies to both commodity and specialist products.
    Suppose two products both meet my needs. Product A may have better specs (along with a higher price) than product B but if both products meet my needs then I`m free to choose on other factors. I might choose product A because I dislike the people selling product B or product B because it`s cheaper than product A.
    In the pizza example I suspect the person driving past multiple stores is doing so because they feel their need isn`t being met by the chain stores. To them price, convenience and service aren`t factors.
  • give me customer service anyday.
  • ChuckChuck subscriber Posts: 6
    give me customer service anyday.I`d have to concur with the service side, and not just because Joel is right across from my office.  Bring it back to some business 101, and think about which of these offer a better sustainable competitive advantage.Yes, products are vital, and they can be defended through things like patents and other intellectual property protections, but ultimately someone will come along and match or improve upon your product.  It`s not to say that you can create a sustainable product advantage, you certainly can.  Especially when you create a bundle of products, particularly those that augment and support others (making it harder for customers to switch products without some pain).  But you`re never going to escape the need to constantly innovate and improve.And you should do that, but in terms of an advantage where it`s truly difficult for a competitor to step in and steal your thunder, service and reputation win hands down.  Great service sticks with you, leaves an indelible impression - so does bad service.  And it`s possible to provide a great experience for customers for a lot less than product innovation - it can simply be an attitude and mindset you instill in your business.
  • BundlesBundles subscriber Posts: 2
    My vote is and always will be for customer service. Without it, we don`t have a customer. Whether as an entrepreneur or working within Corporate America, when we offer exceptional customer service to our customers, our employer, our families, our friends, our associates, and ourselves, doors of opportunities start opening and we can walk in with any product or service we`re offering/selling.
    I`ve always been in very competitive industries.  But, I`ve succeeded because of my committment to exceptional customer service, presenting a professional image and always being ready to learn along the way. Including learning from my customers.
    When we sell them on customer service, we`ve sold them something that they cannot buy anywhere else. We`ve sold them ourselves. Of course, once we do that, we still have to have the quality product or service to back it up.
  • typo57typo57 subscriber Posts: 0
    Have to admit I was somewhat torn on this one at first.  The Italian in me wanted to jump in my truck and drive to the Pizza joint and try this unparralleled pizza (just once), but the business person in me said Joel has my vote hands-down.  I own a small gift basket shop and part of my mission statement is "...to provide customers with exceptional service, high quality products ..." etc.  I strive for that unique Wine or gift that you will not find anywhere else.  I too carry Burning River Ale; it is too hoppy for my tastes, but that`s personal preference.  My customers appreciate the fact that I will give them a truthful opinion.  My best seller in the Great Lakes line is Elliot Ness, followed by Edmund Fitzgerald.  I will not give them false information just to sell an item.  I will not return to a restaurant or shop that has not excelled in customer service and product!  Did Joel have to stop at that store for his ale?  No, but he did so on the advice of a neighbor.  But he will return based upon his experiences.  He could easily buy his Ale at the place he used to, but he will not because of the exceptional customer service he received.  Regardless of how good I found that pizza to be, if it is not matched with customer service, I will search for that "new favorite".  I will not return!  I have a hard time spending my money in an establishment who does not appear to appreciate it!
  • theswaynestertheswaynester subscriber Posts: 15 Bronze Level Member
    OK. So if I`m tallying this, it`s like Joel... 8... The Swaynester... nada.Very nice.
  • MelissaMelissa subscriber Posts: 7
    I`m going to jump in on this one as well due to an experience I just had today.  I sent an email to a vendor I was seriously considering for website and branding services.  I`d say I was about 80% sold on going with them (they seem to have a great product and the price was just right), but I just didn`t quite feel comfortable with what I knew about their qualifications and a few other things so I sent a list of questions that I developed not only from my own curuiosity but also from looking at a few other sites who suggested questions that you should ask any designer.
    Instead of receiving answers to my questions, the reply was that they thought I couldn`t possibly be serious - that it would take more time to answer my questions than to build my website.  I followed up with an email explaining why I was asking the questions and asking that they reconsider and, if necessary, simply direct me to the portions of their site where they answered the questions as I had apparently missed them.  I received a response that essentially said my account wasn`t worth the time it would take to do that. 
    There is something to be said about hiring/firing customers. Perhaps they felt I wouldn`t be a good customer (they were wrong - I`m ridiculously loyal to those who go the extra mile for me).  However, because of the way they have *treated* me, they have lost a sale.  Yes, perhaps it was a small sale right now, but who`s to say that they wouldn`t have reaped more benefits in the end when I recommended others to them.  Or, for that matter, the benefits they probably would have reaped when it came time for my husband`s forthcoming chiropractic office to have a site built or for my site to be expanded.  Now, if anything, they will probably receive negative PR as I am sure to tell a number of people of my negative experience.
    I truly believe in the doctrine that "if you treat someone right when they have little they will remember you and *reward* you when they have much" for your treating them as you would your most lucrative customers.  Just because someone may seem like chopped liver today, it doesn`t mean they won`t be lobster and caviar tomorrow.
  • bobbyhumebobbyhume subscriber Posts: 1 Member
    Here is my two cents worth.  Much to my dismay customer service is
    falling by the wayside these days.  Most days I feel like I have
    to beat my head against a steel plate to get people just to do their
    jobs.  For instance, I recently purchased a home.  As a long
    time Bank of America customer for both my personal and business
    accounts I did a quick search for interests rates just to make sure
    they were in line and went in to my local branch to get a
    mortgage.  My loan officer was pleasant and very quickly got me
    approved for the loan.  A couple of days later my wife and I found
    our first dream house and had our offer accepted.  We forwarded
    the information to BofA so they could schedule the appraisal and get
    things in order for the closing.  I checked back with my loan
    officer a couple of times over the 30 day escrow and he assured me
    everything was in order and going fine.  Three days before our
    closing date I got a call from the loan officer asking me to please
    come down to the branch as soon as possible.  When I got to his
    desk he informed me that there was a problem with my loan.  BofA
    had appraised the wrong house and lost most of the paperwork.  The
    only solution was to start all over; the bank needed another 15 days to
    get me my loan.  I was furious and it only got worse from there.

    I worked my way up the BofA food chain until I got to the regional
    manager.  I wanted answers on how BofA was going to fix this
    problem.  I couldn`t delay my closing; I had a very anal seller
    that wanted their money on that day or not at all.  Even the
    regional manager couldn`t do anything to help me, but she did promise
    me that she would get to the bottom of the problem and keep me updated
    on her progress.  She never called me back.  Still to this
    day no call.  She just let left me hanging.  Guess which bank
    doesn`t have any of my accounts anymore?  Guess who will never
    have any of my accounts again?

    The moral of the story is simple and short (unlike the story).  In
    business all of us make mistakes, screw-ups happen.  Customer
    service is what keeps those screw-ups from sinking the ship.  Had
    the regional manager followed up with me, made assurances that this
    type of thing would never happen again and the bad seed had been rooted
    out, I probably wouldn`t have moved my accounts, but the lack of
    customer service left me running for the door.

    Matt...No matter how good the pizza, sooner or later your cook is going
    to have a bad day or week, people won`t come back after a couple of bad
    meals with no smiling manager to make things right.
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