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Patrick:

Making a person feel welcome is the secret.And as owners of a small retail store, your parents could teach us a thing or two about that.

Working with agencies and providing them no access, or delaying responses and then holding their feet to the fire for delivering on time is a bad practice that too many organizations overlook. Doing so, they cheat themselves out of the best work.

I grew up working retail. My parents owned what's now a quaint old fashioned variety store - think tiny neighborhood Target. I know how hard customer service can be. And a twist on the maxim the customer isn't always right. You just want to make them think they are (not sure where I first heard that).

In the B2B Service business it takes a good client to get good work. If you the customer are not willing to partner with the vendor you're not going to get their best work/service. This applies to working with agencies in particular. How often have we seen great creative concepts reduced down to milk toast because of the clients' draconian approval/review process. And then gets blamed for poor results.

Customer service is one of the most thankless yet important jobs around. Companies should reward and empower them accordingly yet few do. Scott Stratten posted this about a hotel customer experience that went from bad to good because of one person -http://www.un-marketing.com/blog/2010/10/05/caring-about-your-customer-service-screw-ups

@Gabriele - I've been in line behind some of those customers at some point. We probably all have. It takes thick skin to be in customer service. However, it also takes a big heart to want to be helpful, despite the occasional rudeness... there are lines one shouldn't cross as a human being. Not in customer service issues, not in life.

@Alexandra - I would challenge the statement about luxury item and demanding more of the company. I was born and raised in the land of fashion design and there, as well as here, I witness more an attitude of desire to belong on the part of the customer when it comes to an expensive brand. In fact, the less one can afford the item (not true across categories), the more the awe in obtaining it. I'm not sure I understand "inspiration" as you intend it. Do you mean like corporate social responsibility?

@Brian - I think emotion has a role in marketing. You just need to push harder to find that core value to customers, that thing that connects with them emotionally. I think Ducati and Ferrari do it well. I'm biased, I know. Your second thought is something not many will admit. I read Chris Elliott's column in the Sunday paper and he is often reporting on how some travelers *know* what they should have done to get a refund, or communicate with the hotel, etc., yet insist on doing it their way, or wait too long to do it. Don't get me started on standard education testing, the entertainment industry, and so on. I admit I am never afraid that someone will say something incredibly smart...

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