Chris Moerdyk
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Chris Moerdyk
Marketing Tips

Cute little phrases won't help you in tough times

Surviving tough times isn't about impressing customers when they walk into your shop or reception area with cute little chunks of corporate vision nestling in neat little frames all over the wall.
These things inevitably come out of books such as "How to Succeed in Business" the big boss got from his wife when he graduated from salesman to sales manager. Cute little sayings like: "Make Your First Impression Last", and "We Care for Our Customers".

They are also found in companies where the powers that be have given up the unequal battle of trying to instil service ethic into the ranks and as some sort of last gasp motivational fling, plastered the walls with what can best be described as commercial graffiti with the hope that they will infect visitors to be point where their brains will be dulled into believing that every man jack member of staff would rather die than not care for customers or make rattling good first impressions.

And, incredibly enough, trying to perpetuate these totally transparent principles is becoming more and more a part of business strategy despite the fact that consumers are becoming less and less tolerant of words and more and more and more and more insistent on action.
Today's consumers, customers and clients have progressed well beyond the stage of development based on the notion of one human being genuinely believing that another is superior simply because the former is trying to flog something to the latter.

That heart-rending sales pitch of the slick and schmarmy salesman of the past just isn't cracking it any more. Modern consumers don't need super sales talk to convince them to buy something they don't really need or something that is going to bring them instant wealth or, for that matter, something they could really use. Nowadays consumers get themselves into trouble all by themselves.

But when they do have to indulge in a customer/supplier relationship they tend to become more and more outspoken: "Don't feed me that bull about the customer being king and you caring for me. You don't care about me, you frankly don't give a hoot about me, so cut the crap and just give me quality and service."

Not to mention "and a very, very fast quick fix if things go wrong". It is sad that concepts like "The Customer is King" and "We Care" and "You are important to us" have been done to death. Because they are all extremely valid concepts. Concepts that work. Sound business strategy.

It's just that consumers simply don't believe them anymore. Not only that, but those who should be practicing these principles, don't believe them anymore. And the reason is because most companies have seen all these things as quick fixes. Fixes that have been introduced into the corporate structure with massive fanfare, with managers "taking ownership" right, left and centre and CEO's committing themselves to the cause.

And a few weeks later another great plan crashes hopelessly in a sea of apathy because they were not driven from the top. Customer service, upon which all companies will survive or flounder in the future, is not something one can teach.

Days, weeks and even months of browbeating lectures, threats and rewards cannot inculcate into anyone the real meaning, the real benefits of service.

It is only by experiencing and suffering fairly seriously from lack of service that one can possibly understand what it is all about. And once that understanding is there, accountability and ownership need to be applied to make sure it stays there.

7 Aug 2008 14:56


About Chris Moerdyk

Apart from being a corporate marketing analyst, advisor and media commentator, Chris Moerdyk is a former chairman of Bizcommunity. He was head of strategic planning and public affairs for BMW South Africa and spent 16 years in the creative and client service departments of ad agencies, ending up as resident director of Lindsay Smithers-FCB in KwaZulu-Natal. Email Chris on moc.liamg@ckydreom and follow him on Twitter at @chrismoerdyk.