Providing Service and Value Online

I’ve got two great sources of wisdom sitting on my desk right now. First, a handout from Ron Wolfson from a conference a year or two ago, and a new blog post by Chris Brogan. Both are about providing service for members and customers, and both draw from examples of companies that have built their brand around SERVICE. In this day and age when time and attention are the limiting factors for engagement and participation, providing high quality, convenient and efficient service is paramount.

At this time of year when we’re walking into synagogues along with thousands of others, we pay attention to signage, accessibility of prayer books, ease of movement. We take advantage of the face to face experience by having ushers who welcome and guide us to open seats. But the rest of year is no different.

As the Synagogue 3000 handout reminds us, great experiences build great brands. A few examples:

  • Nordstrom – Everyone deserves personal attention (personal note, having grown up in Seattle — they also take anything back, no questions asked. My family ALWAYS shopped there, and still does)
  • Borders Books – Find the book
  • Home Dept – There’s no such thing as a silly question

Chris Brogan applies this same concept to online service:

  • Zappos had to convince thousands and thousands of customers that ordering shoes on the web was easy, and that their customer service policies were top shelf. They made a near-billion dollar correct bet on how they competed.
  • Craigslist revenues for 2009 were estimated to top $100 million dollars, and Craig Newmark built the company around the premise that excellent customer service and community involvement were the key.

The bottom line: to compete, BE HELPFUL. This doesn’t mean market your events in 10 different places, it means add value to people’s lives before you ask them to buy, attend or commit. Can you help someone have a faster or easier or more convenient experience? Can you help them solve a problem they didn’t know they had? Can you empower someone to do more or better for themselves and others?

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