Face-to-face Customer Service Still Matters

I recently wrote about the dangers of disparity between the customer experience in the social media channel and the customer experience in the traditional channel … and the importance of INTEGRATING your brand messages across all channels. We also need to make sure that we integrate our brand messages across platforms – both face-to-face and online.

Real-life example:  I have been involved with my bank for years – I’m an Advocate, and I go to this bank all the time.  This week after visiting my bank in their physical location, I walked out realizing that more often than not, I leave their “store” not feeling good.

This bank is giving me a huge mixed message: they have branches on almost every corner so they obviously value the face-to-face customer experience… but when they get me in front of them, with the best opportunity to make me feel good, they drop the ball.  Their online presence promises a high-touch, personalized, efficient experience but the actual face-to-face experience is highly disappointing with long slow lines and employees standing around not doing anything while I wait.  It’s not quick, it’s not efficient, and it’s nothing like what they promised in their online and traditional messaging.

I expect by now you are building valuable relationships with your customers online, then identifying, mobilizing, and energizing Brand Advocates and tracking their reach.  That is great and important, but what about the real world?  That is an INCREDIBLE chance to build and enhance advocacy… or unfortunately, to break it down!

Banks are not the only businesses guilty of dropping the ball with their face-to-face customer experience.  It happens at car dealerships, home improvement warehouses, and a variety of other businesses where you walk into the location and a handful of reps are talking among themselves happily ignoring you or simply not being “nice” when they do finally pay attention… no “how can I be of service?,” no smiles, and negative body language.  There is no “customer” or “service” in that scenario, and the powerful message sent is “you don’t matter to us.”

You need to make sure that when focusing on the online customer experience, that your face-to-face customer experience carries the ball, and actually advances it… DO NOT waste that valuable opportunity!   Unite your brand messages by taking the online experience to the real world and vice versa.   Brand Advocates exist in both venues – make sure your best customer service is always in both venues to meet them.

-Ted Rubin, Social Media Strategist