Every single customer deserves to be treated well, respected, and given the appropriate attention and effort. In other words, the minimum level of your bar needs to be higher than the minimum level of your competitors’ expectation bars, as well as higher than your industry and competitor averages. That said, different tiers of customers deserve different levels of treatment. Conventional marketing theory holds that more loyal and valuable customers should be treated with elevated levels of service. That absolutely still holds; however, I’d like to inject a new variable into this mix: influence.
We’ve all witnessed that awkward moment or major meltdown where a celebrity shouts at the top of their lungs to some poor schmuck working as a valet to make a few extra bucks, “Do you know who I am?” This is obviously meant to instill fear in said schmuck, to essentially accommodate the self-entitled prima donna.
Well, guess what? Yesterday’s celebrity is today’s Web-celebrity. With sites like FlyerTalk or blogs such as “The Consumerist” waiting to pounce on big dumb companies’ missteps—not to mention the ability to amplify a conversation, interaction, or heated debate—it becomes critical to do your homework when engaging in conversation with your customers. And more often than not, they’ll gladly volunteer this information to you on a silver platter. I know I do. In fact, I politely explain that I am a fairly well-known (at ...

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