Saturday, February 24, 2007

Higher Standards? Compared to What?

On Tuesday, the New York Time’s Eric Dash reported that Bank of America’s use of the tagline “Higher Standards” would be eliminated and a new branding effort would be rolled out on Sunday night during the Academy Awards. In Eric’s words, “whose standards are Bank of America’s higher than anyway?” No more higher standards? They never had any.

Forget the tagline. It’s cool to have a good tagline but unless you have great customer service, you won’t win customers. I’m a Bank of America customer because the checking is free with direct deposit and they have the most ATM locations but if they were to charge me money, I’d be sure to go elsewhere. I’ve pressed more buttons on my phone and listened to more hold music than I care for. On top of that, I’ve gone to several branch locations and was told that I couldn’t come inside to see a teller, even though the ATM read temporarily unable to dispense cash. But they did stick a guy on me to offer me a home loan. Higher than what?

I won’t shop at Best Buy either. I went in looking for a digital camera and I asked blueshirt where the section was. He pointed in the direction of the camera and kept talking to another blueshirt. I came back and asked him a question and he only knew what he could see on the printed description and specs. Honestly, what does Best Buy pay these guys for? They should just have more cashiers if there’s going to be no customer service.

I do have to give major kudos to Dell. When I received my laptop a few months back, I called them and the first question they asked me was not what’s your mother’s maiden name or what is your address or what is the last four digits of your social security number but “in case we get disconnected, what is the best number to reach you at?” I was in a state of shock. Usually, for any customer service, you’re guaranteed to be pressing a few numbers, some hold music and then being asked to hold while they look up some information.

Customer service goes a long way. I believe some research a few years back said that if you have a satisfied customer, they will go tell a few people about it and if a customer doesn’t like you, they will go tell 7-10 people.

One enterprise technology executive I recently spoke with when I requested customer references for the media said that sales guys won’t cooperate. He told me that sales guys sell and that’s it. They won’t go back to the customer to make sure they are satisfied but will pop up right around the time of renewal. Not shocking but isn’t it the sales guys who want us to generate coverage so they have collateral for when they are selling?

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