November 25, 2015

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06/21/99  Problem Or Opportunity?
There's a gaping hole in America, and the sign above it reads "Customer Service." Business owners everywhere are crying about the lack of competent cashiers, motivated salespeople and good service help. To make matters worse, while the number of good employees seems to be shrinking, consumers are growing more and more frustrated as their time and patience levels shrink to virtually zero.
Examples of truly superior customer service are so rare that they tend to become the standard by which the rest of us are measured. No longer will customers wait on hold for five minutes, wait in line beyond three minutes or put up with salespeople who know less about the product than they do.
With the entrance of the Internet (the ultimate customer service tool), the bar has been raised substantially. It's so incredibly easy for me to buy books and CDs from amazon.com, that I haven't been to a bookstore in months. I simply log on, find the book and click. My credit card number and address are stored in the system, so the book is on my desk the next day. Further, amazon.com lets me read customer reviews about each book and CD I'm considering, so I don't have to trust the opinion of a salesman who's working on commission.
Last week, a salesman called me, and I asked him if he could send me some literature. He said, "Do you have Internet access?"
I said, "Yeah, why?" He told me to pull up www.whatever.com, then walked me through each of my alternatives over the phone. His use of the Web as an "instantly deliverable brochure" made the selling process seamless -- instantly gratifying -- and sped my decision.
With a well-built Website, the need for a salesperson doesn't go away; it just dramatically changes the job description. Radio, too, must utilize the extraordinary convenience of online information and online buying.
We need to start by putting our inventory and rates online, giving clients access to everything that might help them make decisions. Advertisers should be able to build schedules online, click to check their reach and frequency, and click again to place the buy. (Maybe a little red flag pops up when frequency is inadequate.) Electronic media kits can continue self-administered PowerPoint presentations, video, creative presentations and so much more.
Good Websites aren't cheap, so the leaders of tomorrow will be the first to develop them. The followers will wait until the leaders have all the bugs worked out, then spend the next 20 years trying to catch up with them.
Are you a leader or a follower?

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