Ottawa PR and social media professional Joe Thornley wrote a post today that’s got me thinking. You can check the post out over on his blog but, in a nutshell, he’s praising Fairmont Hotels for going the extra mile for him (he’s a regular customer).
He makes a lot of good points and I’m not taking issue with what he’s written. It would be great if more companies did nice things for their customers, especially ones who bring them repeat business. Chris Brogan has written about similar things (the one that jumps out in my head is this post about his comic book supplier). Companies showing they value your patronage by going the extra mile isn’t rocket science and it certainly predates social media and all that.
So maybe this post is just inspired by subconscious sour grapes ’cause I don’t have stories of my own to share. Take that gain of salt as you read on.
But could it be that these companies are treating Chris and Joe well because they have a big following? Because they know, even without asking for it, that they’re likely to get a nice plug on a well-read blog? These guys have big twitter followings. Would I get similar treatment from these companies if I was a regular? Would you?
The takeaway from both of these posts seems to be that more companies should take the personal approach to customer service. But is that realistic? Does that scale?
Can Fairmont afford to upgrade all of their regular customers the way they did for Joe? Or does the fact that he’s blogged about them before and that they sponsor an event series that he organizes play into their decision to upgrade him for his troubles? Can Mick Galuski reasonably expect to have time to send a DM to every one of his customers when their comic shipment arrives each week?
Look, this isn’t intended to be a shot at Joe Thornley or Chris Brogan. So please don’t read it as such. I just wonder if maybe they don’t realize the impact of their reach. They are more than regular customers, they are regular customers with large networks of people who trust their recommendations. It makes sense for these companies to go the extra mile for them. But I’m not convinced it’s practical as a long-term model of customer service.
But feel free to argue. I’d like to be proven wrong.