Customer Service - Where the Rubber Meets the RoadMany companies spend thousands on surveys, focus groups, and marketing studies. They want to know what their customers think about their products. But they have a free channel to their customer everyday through their Customer Service Department.

As far as brand building is concerned, we think Customer Service is an essential link in the chain. If your customer service team is well trained to take advantage of their very special position, they can save you money and increase your business. Your marketing, production, and quality control people need to take heed to what they discover and report. Satisfied customers are the foundation of brand reputation, and their product experience is the road map to success and sustainability.

Here are 4 more tips for getting the most out of your customer service people:

4. Don’t use demanding language.

Today, many people you hire may already use crutch words, phrases and responses. Saying things like “I want you to…” and “Here’s what I want you to do for me…” are counterproductive when dealing with an upset customer. What you can do for them is more important. Expressions like “No problem,” should never be used as a replacement for “Thank you,” and “Glad I could help.”

5. Don’t simply refund their money.

If you get a bad pizza and they refund your money, do you ever go back? What do you tell your friends about the quality of the pizza? Wouldn’t it be better if they said, “Please give us an opportunity to show you that we can make a delicious pizza? Your next one is on us. ” Now they have given you an opportunity to confirm their brand promise and better yet, tell your friends how they treated you. If handled properly, a customer’s less-than-satisfactory experience can actually build your brand’s reputation.

6. Ask questions.

Your Customer Service Department is a veritable fountain of information and feedback from real users of your products. While you have your callers live on the phone, not only satisfy their concerns, but ask a few important questions. Where and when did they buy? What did they pay? How long have they been a customer? Was the product easy to use? Did it live up to or exceed their expectations? What do they wish the product could do that it doesn’t? Was there anything difficult about the packaging or directions? Don’t just put it on them and say, “Well, is there anything else I can help you with today?” Take advantage of this great opportunity to improve your product, and thereby, your brand.

7. Report to Production and Marketing.

Next to your sales staff, your customer service people are the primary source of customer feedback. If you empower them by directing your marketing and production staff to listen and respond to what your customer service people have discovered, your products can’t help but improve. Set up the channels of communication now so Marketing and Production can take advantage of these direct customer insights and suggestions. Make sure everyone understands the value of hearing firsthand from your customers.

By appreciating the value of your customer service people, giving them the right tools and the right training, and by directing your marketing and production folks to take heed, you will go a long way toward improving your brand’s reputation. Don’t think of your customer service staff as “complaint resolution; ” think of them as where the rubber meets the road!





Who We Are

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey Barefoot Wine Founders

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse to the board room of E&J Gallo, who ultimately acquired their brand and engaged them as brand consultants. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.

Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They built an internationally bestselling brand and received their industry’s “Hot Brand” award for several consecutive years.

They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) & Shelf Smarts courses to help consumer product brand builders achieve success. Their book, The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways To Engage and Empower Your People, helps corporations maximize the value of their human resources.

Currently they travel the world leading workshops, trainings, & keynoting at business schools, corporations, conferences. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals. They are C-Suite Network Advisors & Contributing Editors. Visit their popular business site at

To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact