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Recognizing Customers: 7 Marketing Components
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Marketing has been well-defined as anything you do to get or keep a customer. I break marketing into seven specific components for further analysis. These are:

* advertising
* sales
* publicity
* customer service
* planning
* research
* merchandising

I take it for granted that marketing involves building relationships with people, whether prospects or customers. The most profitable marketing involves selling to someone who already knows you well and trusts you, i.e., has a positive relationship with you.

Recognition vs. Service

This month I want to cover the distinction between customer service and customer recognition. Restaurants make an excellent example of this point.

A friend of mine, Jack Sweeney, a sales expert, was just mentioning how nice it is to take a customer into a restaurant where they know you and treat you like you own the place. Not only do customers like being wined and dined, but they like the feeling of being specially taken care of.

That same day I was reading a survey by the National Restaurant Association which showed people's ranking of important elements in the dining experience. First was recognition, service, and last was food. Since restaurant people had been focusing on food and service, they weren't too pleased with these results. But the important point is that we have all tended to overlook the importance of recognition.

Recognition is Tops

By recognition, we mean that when you go to the restaurant, you are literally recognized. People greet you by name. They clearly know who you are and they treat you like somebody important. This is the benefit of being a regular customer in some restaurants. (The same thing should apply to anybody you do business with.)

It's not enough to provide good service. People are really looking for a personal touch, an acknowledgment of them as someone who is special. If you only get a good meal, you're not getting enough.

Legendary Service

If you can give people acknowledgement and personal recognition, they will feel good, even if your product is only average. Too many customer service programs focus on doing well that which is expected. Some talk about giving more than what is expected. But I don't know of any that talk about acknowledging and recognizing the customer. To create the legendary service that people tell stories about for years, like Nordstrom's department store, you need to focus on learning who
your customers are and making them feel appreciated.

If you serve other people within your company, think about the relationships you are building with them. No matter how good a job you do, if they don't come away positive about the experience, then you're not doing your true job in "customer service."

When people are paying you money directly across the counter, it should be much more obvious that you want them to come away from the experience enthusiastic, not just having had "good service."

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