Great Customer Service: The Ultimate PR/Marketing Tool

Earlier in the week I wrote on the terrible customer service I received from JetBlue and how to avoid these traps for your brand.  Today I have the opposite example to share with you:  great customer service and how it is the ultimate marketing/PR tool in an age where we’re all connected.

Currently I’m staying in Chicago at the Talbot Hotel, a hotel I found via Google and read positive reviews on throughout the web.  I knew their customer service was stellar from the raving reviews of previous guests, and it also was in the perfect location for where I needed to be in the city – I figured it was the ideal choice.


iPhone picture I took today of Lake Michigan/Downtown Chicago

Unknown to me, however, was that on one side of the building there was a huge construction project underway.  Yes, I understand that in cities construction is an unfortunate reality, however it began at a pretty early hour and I wasn’t too thrilled with it. 

I gave the front desk a call and politely asked if at all possible, they could find me a room on the side of the building not facing the construction.  The woman at the desk was very kind and said she understood, would look into it and give me a call back if they could offer a solution.  She seemed genuinely concerned to alleviate my situation, as I am staying here for several days. 

A few minutes passed and I figured they couldn’t do anything or had forgotten – no big deal I thought, at least I tried – right? 

The phone rang, I picked up and it was the woman at the front desk again (her name was Andrea).  She said that the regular rooms are all booked up, so they are going to upgrade me to an executive suite on the hotel – we apologize for any inconvenience.

This was amazing customer service and a refreshing 180 from the airline industry.  This type of service and commitment to providing me a quality product was above and beyond, and something all businesses should aspire to.  Their rooms were beautiful and clean as well.  

The Talbot Hotel earned this endorsement, and they have received plenty of others – which is how I decided to choose their hotel to stay at.

Advertising and paid marketing is all well and good if you have the budget, but it is only so effective anymore (and perhaps losing effectiveness daily).  Getting personal, direct and real referrals, however, will be the bread and butter for the future of all business (the service industry as much as the tech industry).

What do you trust more:  a slick full page advertisement in a glossy magazine, or 259 positive recommendations on a website, all with detailed descriptions from real people of how amazing their experience was?  The answer is obvious, and consumers are not passive any longer – now we are all part of a global conversation.

In the past, people could merely tell their friends of negative experiences or write an op-ed to the newspaper.  But even then, their power to reach a mass audience was severely limited, even impossible.  Now, everyone has been given a megaphone and can easily go around shouting praise or resentment for your business.  This rallies in an exciting new age for consumerism and how we do business.  The internet is word of mouth set on fire, and can be your best friend or your worst enemy.

If your business isn’t earning positive referrals organically, don’t think for a second that a PR firm or marketing agency can help you.  Customer service and producing the absolute best experience is all that matters to get this.  Second best is irrelevant in the age of Google, you need to be the best, you need to get people talking and you need to dominate the competition on all levels.  Once you have this in place and are getting people talking organically, a strong marketing/PR agency can “pour fuel on the fire” and help take you to the next level.  But, your product, customer service and overall experience needs to be perfect first.

It’s a lot of work, but if you’re not willing to do it – ask yourself why you are even in the business you’re in?