Every couple weeks I'll be writing an article for Ad Age on the interplay between marketing and service. My first article, How Apple is Blurring the Line Between Marketing and Service, dropped last week, and I deliberately picked an offline case study to underscore how good experiences echo online, and vice versa. More specifically, I note:
Things once considered the dark side of Apple, such as tech support, are on the verge of becoming strategic assets, with the Apple Store's geek-stocked Genius Bar able to tackle just about any issue or concern your have. And the process of planning that interaction is more akin to scheduling a haircut or spa treatment than calling those inaccessible tech-support lines.
It's too early to declare total victory here, and it's clear there's still a ton of experimentation going on at the Apple store, but a few key lessons do emerge. (1) Service is marketing.
As marketers struggle to "engage" consumers, service may well be the
easiest and most gratifying starting point -- and one with high sales
conversion potential. (2) Problems are opportunities.
Tech support is an emotional experience -- so why not capitalize on
that insight by openly and enthusiastically solving problems, giving
reassurance and showing compassion for the pain and frustration. A
satisfied consumer might just buy something else while making the trip. (3) Employee authority and passion aids selling.
When employees "walk the talk" in using the product they sell,
credibility goes up -- and credibility drives persuasion. Passion and
evangelism also move the needle. Here's a link to a few reactions to the article, and here's a video blurb from my actual visit. I welcome any ideas for future articles.