The best way to tell customers about your service is by showing them. Service is content marketing, the most powerful kind of content that people will gladly share with each other when it's about them and their stuff.
Think for example about the fascination we have with knowing where our books or other items we order online are.
This is not so much because we're in love with physical objects, which, admittedly, we may be. It's about the idea that we bought a gift, and it is now in transit to its destination. Imagining the look of surprise when our friend or family member unwraps it, and their appreciation, is what makes the process special to us.
So when we look at Amazon.com fulfillment center, we don't just see a huge warehouse filled with boxes. Interesting in and of itself. We don't merely recognize the efficiency of moving all that inventory and get each box to its destination. Although that is a modern feat, isn't it?
What we imagine is our package making its way to its human destination. Our friend opening it and enjoying its contents. You can see it in this discussion on FriendFeed. Getting the gifts to their destination on time is the magic of operating a fulfillment center. We love to see how that happens, watching the service delivery part.
When service is the delivery business as in the case of UPS and FedEx, the story of how that service was started and grown fascinates and provides many lessons on dealing with operational issues. Although I have not read either book, if this topic is of interests, I found a good starting point.
The unofficial story told by long time UPS employee Greg Niemann in Big Brown, the Untold Story of UPS. And the book authored by FedEx own Roger Frock, Changing How the World Does Business: Fedex's Incredible Journey to Success - the Inside Story.
What is clear from the conversations about Amazon.com fulfillment - check out also this slide show by BusinessWeek - and the comments on the books written about the two goods delivery companies, is that service and operations may look easy when, in fact, they're not. It takes vision and day in day out dedication to make the service substantial and valuable enough to pay for.
What can you learn from this?
Regardless of the industry or company you're in, you may start thinking about your service as content. How can you provide more visibility into how you do what you do?
In the same way that Amazon.com opens its doors to journalists and the public about its operations, you could think of ways to provide more transparency or visibility into how you deliver the service to customers.
Some ideas you can implement digitally, and in person:
- give product or service demos
- allow customers to take a tour of your site
- post images of how you get it done to make your site more interesting
- show stages in your service fulfillment or delivery, just like tracking codes allow you to do
- use digital media to get interactive with your customers allowing them to post comments and images of their packages or good, for example
This concept is what makes Build-a-Bear a best seller. Hands-on experience where the service to you is the experience of building your own bear, and the word of mouth value to the company become your bragging rights.
There is a place in the communications cycle for glossy marketing brochures, when written with the customer benefits front and center. So this is no ding on the work of good writers.
More and more, service and experience are the content.
What about you?
How can you look at your business, its service components, and find a way to make that part of the content marketing mix? Where is your sweet spot for customers? Should you build a "delight-o-meter" a-la Amazon.com to let them track your work and see your service?
[image courtesy of Amazon.com]
© 2006-2009 Valeria Maltoni. All rights reserved.