In Conversation with Geoff Langston

The next big thing in customer service?

Could it be “Brand Butlers”? More about this concept soon!

Over the last thirty plus years, there have been many trends in how we serve our customers; new approaches technological innovations, changes in terminology from customer service to customer experiences and so it goes on.

Some years ago, America was recognised as setting the standard for excellent service, more recently the Far East and Asia have been recognised for taking service to a new high with airlines such as Emirates and Singapore airlines delivering outstanding experiences for their customers. Having been fortunate enough to experience personally, both American and Asian levels of service during the last twelve months, I tend to agree with this view.

For example, I flew with Jet airlines, an Indian company and was treated to an exceptional journey from checking in to landing. The on-flight team was excellent. They were attentive, aware of customer needs, there was more space than I have ever seen in a standard class cabin, subtle lighting that changed colour according to the atmosphere they wanted to create (day to night/ meal times/ entertainment time etc) real cutlery and crockery and more, a lot of which was dependent on the staff! A fantastic experience with an airline I would definitely recommend and will be using again.

So, what exactly are Brand Butlers?

The trend following website www.trendwatching.com (One of the world’s leading trend firms, sends out its free, monthly Trend Briefings to more than 160,000 subscribers worldwide) first coined the phrase some time ago, and their most recent briefing provides an update on the latest developments in “brand butlering” across the world. They suggest that:

  • Simply offering excellent yet tried-and-tested customer service and support functions, or typical online features such as price-lookup or anything facilitating ecommerce activities. While excelling in offering these hygiene factors of course do contribute to an overall ‘feel’ of assistance for customers, we would qualify them as (after) sales support, not ‘butlering’.
  • BRAND BUTLER services typically do not replace top quality products and paid services: they go ‘over and above’. In most cases BRAND BUTLER services can/should only exist because they support your core (and hopefully outstanding) products and services.
  • Last but not least, as BRAND BUTLERS is all about relevance and service, this is not about gimmicks or entertainment for entertainment’s sake.

It will come as no surprise to many readers that Virgin Atlantic features on more than a couple of occasions in the “Brand Butler” briefing!

I suggest that you will find it useful and interesting to read the briefing, however, whatever new innovative approaches you offer to your customers, the real service providers are people. Even on-line service providers at some point have some human interactivity, particularly when something goes wrong with the product or service. People do business with people, and will go back to those people who provide excellent, consistent and reliable service.


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