Great service is not good enough

Had a fun email exchange with one of our gnomes yesterday. She knows her brand has something to do with wonderful service, but is not exactly sure how to go beyond that. And I agree, and look forward to working with this person on getting specific about her CU’s brand.

Because great service just isn’t good enough anymore. Think about it… what company doesn’t claim to offer great service? When I present on branding, I ask the audience, “who here offers great service?” Without fail, nearly every hand in the room goes up.

In today’s networked world, we need ON-BRAND SERVICE. A company needs to figure out its brand, and then determine what specifically would make service be on-brand for that company. A company needs to get specific about service, and then back it up and walk the talk. A fantastic book on this subject is Branded Customer Service.

Believe it or not, there are actually some companies where rudeness equals on-brand service. I’ve written previously about how rowdiness is on-brand for a particular restaurant at Disney World. Companies where rudeness, rowdiness, or noisiness are on-brand are few and far between, but they are extremely MEMORABLE. When I visited Lisa Kleven in Chicago last month, she recommended I visit Ed Debevic’s, where sassiness is on-brand for the waitstaff, just to experience it once. I didn’t get a chance on that trip, but I will next time!

I applied for a loan at a bank on Tuesday. The branch manager filled out all the paperwork by hand as I gave him all the answers. Then he gave me ANOTHER form, where nearly all the questions were the same as what I had just told him. He said I could fill it out at home, or fill it out right there in front of him. I knew that if I took it home, I might forget to fill it out right away. So I did it right there. Then he said he would get back to me on Friday or Monday depending on how backed up they were.

Are you kidding me? 3 business days to get a loan decision???? or it could take as long as 6 days?

The ironic thing is that this branch manager talked to me about the fantastic service that THEY offer, because after all, service is what it’s all about. I agree, fantastic service is very important. But he talked about taking me out to lunch once or twice a year to update me on any regulations that might affect me. Interesting. I’m not opposed to such a thing. It might be nice. But what about expediting my loan application? That’s what I was sitting there for! That’s why I was giving up time I could be spending working more productively. And to have to fill out forms by hand, and do it twice?

By contrast, I faxed a loan app to a company in New Hampshire that specializes in leasing and business loans. The form was short; just one page. I faxed it to him, and I got an approval within a matter of a couple of hours. Not days, hours. The form and the process were extremely simple, easy, and streamlined.

Now THAT’S what I call good service.


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