I read an article recently in which the author, Barry Moltz, stated that customer service has become the only sustainable competitive advantage businesses have and the only way to ensure long-term profitability.
I think Netflix found this out the hard way. Today, CEO Reed Hastings announced that Netflix will keep its DVD and streaming services as one company. “It is clear that for many of our members two websites would make things more difficult, so we are going to keep Netflix as one place to go for streaming and DVDs,” Hastings wrote.
The lesson here for any business is to ask if what you’re offering—whether it’s a new service or product, or a change in how you’re serving the customer—will make your customers’ lives better or easier in some way.
It’s no longer good enough to ask, “How was your experience with us?” You must ask, “How can we make your experience better?” Understanding and solving customers’ problems shows, more than anything else a business can do, that it really, truly cares about its customers. And customers that feel cared about can become a business’ most ardent fans. Conversely, as the Netflix debacle illustrated, customers that feel mistreated can quickly become an organization’s fiercest mortal enemies who will not hesitate to tell anyone and everyone, “They suck!”
In essence, customer service is the new marketing.