I went to What’s Next DC today, a very cool online marketing conference (featuring GovLoop’s own Steve Ressler) and I was struck by the simplistic analysis that many of the presenters offered of “what’s working” in marketing. For instance, one presenter went on and on AND ON about how awesome and remarkable Best Buy is for its use of online and mobile technology. Now, I’m a bit of a gadget junkie, so I have the Best Buy app on my iPhone 4 (and my iPad and my iPhone 3 and my iPod touch) and I use BestBuy.com. But this is mainly out of necessity because it is IMPOSSIBLE to actually get someone to help you if you are actually standing in the middle of a Best Buy. And Best Buy’s “cool apps” have done nothing to remedy the underlying issue of its terrible customer service, which permeates every aspect of its interaction with customers–online and offline.
As I was thinking about this, I was reminded of the experience I had when I was engaged to provide “rebranding” consulting to a government agency (which will remain nameless to protect the guilty). After doing my research, it became clear that the agency’s customers would absolutely go somewhere else if they had any choice. I went to the director and explained that they didn’t have a “brand” problem, they had a customer service and support problem. Still, they decided to pick a new name and logo and make some fancy new coffee cups. *sigh*
No matter how fancy the band aid is, it’s still just a band aid if you don’t fix the underlying problem.