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In Our Desire to Over-Service, Do We Ruin the Customer Experience?


DATA-DRIVEN CMO is an ongoing series on the Brooks Bell Blog that focuses on topics for the modern day data-driven CMO.

Today I had a lunch meeting at a local restaurant. My quick review: the food was delicious, the ambience was delightful, the service was attentive, and I was really annoyed.

You see, everything about the experience was perfect, except for the waitress who was overly-attentive. We’ve all had restaurant experiences where you can’t seem to gain the attention of the waitstaff. Perhaps you really need a spoon or an extra napkin, or the bill and you can’t seem to find anyone. But it is equally annoying to have a waitress like the one I had today during lunch. Let me explain.

Waiter giving first class service on a silver tray

In her eagerness to be attentive I could not get a full sentence in to my lunch companion. Every time I started to get into a conversation I was interrupted with a “How is everything?” Before I could take my second bite of my entree I received a “How’s the food tasting?” And the most annoying of them all: every time my glass filled with iced tea dipped below 90% filled, it was refilled.

I can’t help but equate this experience to the state of digital relationship marketing these days. Everywhere you journey on the Internet you are met with prompts of “Live Support ready to answer your questions” or “Fill out this survey and tell us about your experience”. Stop the madness!

The answer does not lie in shoving customer service in the face of customers. The answer lies in being visible enough so the customer knows you are there and agile enough to react WHEN you are needed.

Currently, I fear most marketers ask the wrong question: “Did we ask the customer if they need us?” As If being able to check the box off means a job well done.

Instead, marketers need to ask the question: “Are we there when they need us?”

And let’s not stop there! With proper web tracking, a dynamic CMS, and user behavior analysis we can ask an even more sophisticated and exponentially more profitable question:

“Do we offer the most knowledgeable expert in the preferred engagement vehicle at the exact time our customer wants us?”

If you aren’t expecting the answer to that question from your teams, you are behind the curve of the innovative companies that are doing relationship marketing right.

So, next time you debate whether to pop up a Live Chat window on the entry page, think instead about chilling at the bar ready to act when the customer signals you.