When you think about branding you may think about logos, billboards and ads—mostly directed at enticing new customers. But customer acquisition is expensive, and while you are busy attracting new consumers, your current customers could be slipping out the back door.

So how do you shift your focus to customer retention? You could try the usual approach, which is to probe customers’ thoughts by sending yet another customer feedback survey. But the problem is that most customer feedback surveys don’t show you how to create a rewarding experience that engages customers through their hearts, minds and senses.

For this, consider branding customer service. Branding customer service is a way to support your advertising and marketing messages. Perhaps more importantly, branding customer service is a proactive way to demonstrate your core value and key differentiating points to your current customers.

In Branded Customer Service: The New Competitive Edge, Janelle Barlow and Paul Stewart make a great case for branded customer service. Their book outlines how customer service can be more than just good or bad; it can embody the values of your company by being “on-brand” or “off-brand.” They argue (and we agree) that when brand promises and the actual customer experience align, customer service multiplies the effect of advertising. Conversely, when the two are mismatched, your advertising is completely undermined. Basically, customers are more likely to get your brand and remember your company when your messaging is consistent.

For companies trying to maximize value by branding customer service, Barlow and Stewart’s book gets you started. However, their approach is lacking because they don’t explain how to accurately and objectively measure whether you are succeeding in your endeavor to brand customer service. As Peter Drucker so aptly quipped, you can’t manage what you don’t measure.

In the weeks to come, I’ll further explore branding customer service with an emphasis on how to measure success in this area.


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