I have long said that your brand is the sum of people’s perceptions of you–real or imagined. Customers and prospects weigh more heavily in the construction of a brand than people outside your sphere, but all of it counts.
And that’s why bad customer service can undo all the hard and expensive work you might be doing with traditional branding such as your logo, slogan, appearance of your facility, and so forth.
If you don’t believe me, go read Tracey Ahring’s customer service horror story—and note what she called it: “Marketing Lessons from the Water Company.” Like me, she sees customer service as very much a marketing function, and you might get a kick out of watching tear this clueless company to ribbons. While this particular company is a monopoly, most of the time, our customers have choices of where they bring their purchasing dollars. And when a company behaves like this, it not only loses those dollars forever, but also the money their friends and colleagues and 10,000 social media friends might have spent.