Customer service: A big marketing opportunity

I was recently in a car accident, arguably one of life's most awful experiences.

I was recently in a car accident, arguably one of life's most awful experiences. In this instance, I was pretty lucky, walking away without a scratch. The car wasn't quite as lucky.

My first call was to my insurance company, Travelers. If ever there ever was a low-interest category, for me this was it. My insurance broker had recommended who we use, and the only time I gave it much thought was when it was time to renegotiate my premiums. I absolutely viewed car insurance as a commodity purchase.

That changed post-accident. Travelers arranged for its concierge service to handle everything, from taking my car from the city tow lot to the concierge location nearest my home, to preparing an estimate and negotiating with the body shop to have the work done. But it didn't stop there. They encouraged me to see a doctor and called multiple times post x-rays to make sure I was feeling OK. They arranged for my rental car. And they had called me every other day with an update on my car's repair status. My experience had been so positive that I've been going around talking about car insurance, telling everyone how great Travelers is.

With my car in the shop, I needed a rental car, and Travelers arranged and paid for one with Enterprise. Typically, when I needed a rental car, Enterprise was not even part of my consideration set. That is now forever changed. Evan, the assistant manager at my local Enterprise location, greeted me by asking how I was feeling, aware that I had recently been in a car accident. He then took me to the lot to look at the available cars to see if they had one that would provide a comparable driving experience to my own car. Not happy with what he had, he arranged for an Infiniti G37 to be brought down from another location and delivered to my home. A few days later, he called to see how I was enjoying driving the car. I'm not sure the dealership who sold me my car ever did that.

In each of these instances, the customer service I experienced was so superlative that it changed the way I thought about - and talk about - both of these brands. Smart companies will recognize that customer service is the next big opportunity in brand marketing. Exceptional service can make all the difference between a satisfied customer and a passionate brand advocate.

Lisa Rosenberg is president for North America at Euro RSCG Worldwide PR.

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