Everyone has had a similar experience. You arrive at the moment of truth to use a product or service and it fails. Then, as you attempt to resolve the problem, you are faced with seemingly insurmountable barriers. Policies are wielded like sharp swords against you. Procedures are recited until you hear them in your sleep. Computer systems “fail” on every customer service call you make. Help lines seem to be helpless lines.

Has service really declined to this level?

In some cases, the answer is a resounding, “Yes!” However, there is a much more disturbing problem that is seldom discussed. It is a problem that originates in the marketing department.

Did the customer receive an inspirational or aspirational marketing message?

Inspirational marketing successfully promotes what the company can actually deliver at least ninety-nine percent of the time. When this happens, the customer then feels a sense of relief and confidence because the promises in the marketing message were executed properly. This is an inspirational message because the marketing and operations teams were inspired to work together to determine the value propositions that operations could consistently deliver. The marketing team then created a promotion which allowed the customer to set proper expectations.

Aspirational marketing promotes what the company aspires to be but will frequently be unable to deliver. If the company can only deliver on its promise eighty-five percent of the time, the message should be considered aspirational. While I don’t have exact metrics at hand, I do know from a decade of experience that aspirational marketing costs more companies the future they aspire to reach than any lost sales caused by focusing on the more limited promises of inspirational marketing.

The point is this: Only market what you can operationally execute perfectly. If you do otherwise, your company will fail because you will spend a fortune attempting to recover from customer service issues and you will have less capital to invest on research and development or future marketing campaigns.

Here are a few steps to align the marketing and operations teams:

First, ignore the competition. Focus on what your operations team can actually deliver. If you don’t know what that is, ask a few customers what you do well and what you fail to deliver. They will tell you.

Second, measure your critical processes. Critical processes are those that must work correctly all of the time based on your marketing message. These are the processes that your organization will live or die by. Treat them with the respect they deserve.

Third, ask your customers what they value in your offering, but are unsatisfied with. This is the area that operational teams need to focus on improving. As operational metrics improve, marketing can add promotional material that addresses the new areas of expertise.

Fourth, ignore the competition. Ask your customers what else you could provide to resolve more of the issues related to the particular problem they are facing. Create a customer council with some of your most loyal and trustworthy customers. Have them invest their time and energy into your research and development processes. After all, your customers’ success is based directly on your ability to solve their problems.

Some readers may think it is crazy to ignore the competition. I think it is crazy to pay attention to them. After all, are your competitors or your customers buying your product? Let your customers do the competitive research. They will tell you what they like or do not like. You can only guess at these answers and you will frequently guess wrong.

Author's Bio: 

Tony Bodoh is the President of Tony Bodoh International. His firm coaches executives to create organizational alignment. With a focus on aligning the thinking, relationships, and processes of an organization, Bodoh’s firm has a track record of creating extreme value for customers.

Bodoh created a web-based training program, ProfiTornado, which teaches 30 of his most powerful lessons for individual and organizational growth. See http://www.profitornado.com or http://www.tonybodoh.com for more information about Bodoh’s coaching.

You can contact Tony Bodoh International through info(at)profitornado.com or 877-826-2521.