News out of Cannes last week was that Twelpforce won the Titanium. Adage had this to say about the win:
WHY THEY WON: Top of mind in jurors' minds about Best Buy's Twelpforce was how it changed the client's business and reimagined the customer-service experience (emphasis mine). "The phrase that came up with this piece was that it was a 'business-changing idea,'" said juror Rei Inamoto, CCO of AKQA. Not only is it game-changing, but it changes the business of the client. [Also] one of the things I think about a lot when we do our work is that it should be useful, usable and delightful. This piece hit all those points, especially the last -- it put delight back into customer service."
Added jury president Bob Greenberg: "It's a really big idea that can move the industry forward with how we tie into physical space, retail, channels, associates and service." The simplicity of the idea also contributed to its brilliance.
One of thew things missing from the discussion about this award is that a customer service program took a major award at an advertising show. Has that ever happened before? I'm not sure it has. But to me it shows a huge potential chance in what we consider advertising and I'm not talking about the technology they used.
For years, people like me in the experience space have been talking about the critical role that the consumer experience plays in the marketing of a brand. In todays world, where I can Tweet about my experience while I'm having it, it's perhaps even more critical. Of course, The Experience Economy, written by Pine & Gilmore in 1999 talked about the business importance of experience.
But now we have a straight up, customer service program winning the Titanium award. It didn't start out as an advertising program that morphed into customer service. It's goal was to recreate the customer experience that you could have with Best Buy. Yes, it was used in ad campaigns, but it really seems to be a customer service program at its heart.
Now, the question for me were the jurors really impressed by the customer service program or were they more enamoured by the use of Twitter and the fact that it was done by Crispin? If it's the latter, then nothing really groundbreaking occurred here. A hot agency won an award for using the hot technology of the day.
But, if it's the former, then maybe we could see a break-through here, were customer service is now considered part of the advertising/marketing mix. And brands really need to start listening. A few months back, Paul Mcenany asked a very simple question:
If the people most likely to talk about you are those that have had some sort of experience with you, it baffles me why we spend such a relatively small amount of time and money making that person's experience one worth talking about.
A challenge to programs like this is that while I've always given Best Buy high marks for their online experiences, I'm usually pretty disappointed by my in-store experiences. You can read a classically bad Best Buy experience here and you can read an excerpt from my holiday shopping experience with them this past Christmas.
When brands deliver exceptional service in one channel, I expect that level of service in all channels. And when you don't do that, I'm even more disappointed with my experience.
But with this award for customer service, maybe, just maybe, more brands will start to focus on the experience they deliver. And maybe, brands and agencies will start putting some thoughts into creating a better in-store experience. In our efforts to create better online experiences, we frequently forget about the importance of place.
An excerpt from a November, 2009 post about my experiences shopping at Best Buy:
I sent out several Tweets yesterday about our exploration of the Sony Reader and how disappointed we were by our experiences. Our first stop was Best Buy, where we couldn't initially find the display. The helpful associate in the phone department (we also needed a battery for my wife's old Pebble) sent us to the computer department. But, that's not where the Sony Reader is and the 2 people helping us in the computer section weren't even sure if Best Buy carried any ereaders. In fact, one of the guys was positive they didn't carry any. But, we listened to the other person and went over to where he suggested and there was a display of the Sony Reader. But, one of the readers wasn't working and we tried everything we could to get it restarted. When we finally went to get another person to help, he told us that the units were locked in a demo mode and there was nothing we could do.
Best Buy is one of those stores that I usually find to be a good example of a retailer in desperate need of e-tailing their retail. Their web site is full of useful and helpful information. I use it a lot. I like the consumer reviews, I like the depth of information. I find it easy to research products on their site and use it whenever I'm looking for electronics. But going into their stores is usually painful. It's easier now to find the right section thanks to the redesign of the store and the new graphics.
But once you get to the right section, it's really hard in my experience to get any information about the products. I usually look at the product, then head over to the Apple section, go to the Best Buy web site and then continue my research there. The first thing Best Buy should do is at least put computers in each section so I don't have to trek across the store to get to the computer section. But they should also be doing a lot more training. Then, they should require the staff in each section to review the web site for that section and know what people are saying about the products. They shouldn't be allowed on the store floor until they can pass a test about their section.
Read the full post at Are Your Frontline Employees Part of Your SM Strategy? - Polinchock's Ponderings.
Image source: Your Good Buddy