Great products or great customer service?

I sit here writing this article in a great little cafe called The Travellers Table and happened to recognise one of the ladies working here. I asked her where we’ve met and she replied “I used to have a sandwich shop at International Plaza.” “The Sandwich Nasty!” I exclaimed. We started to reminisce about her little hole in the wall shop that delivered nothing else but great sandwiches with a dose of fiery customer service. Kat was able to remember your name, your order and strike up a conversation whilst in a flurry of making your sandwich. Watch out if you were indecisive once you got to front of the queue! One friend commented “Man, I miss those sandwiches! Well worth being yelled at for.” It got me thinking, do customers come back for great service or great products?

Rather than scouring the internet for the answer to this question I decided it would be a better idea to reach out to a few industry experts. Here are a few of the responses I received.

Winnie, a brand consultant from antics@play (a brand and PR agency), says this.
“I would argue that customers come back for a specific repeat experience, made up of a combination of your service, product, ambience. Besides functional benefits, a positive experience likely includes an emotional memory and an inspiration to human spirit. Truly, brand touch points are made up of little moments; remember the restaurant of your first date or where you host your wedding? They are memorable due to your heightened emotional state. Increasingly, brands also feed the human spirit by aligning their values with their customers, as seen in fair-trade, clean sourced food. Consistent delivery of your brand promise inspires trust and a warm comfort that while many things in life come and go, we can always rely on you to recreate the experience we expect. Walking into the lives of your customers, deepening your brand relevance, will leave them wanting more.”

Marianne, a Marketing Connoisseur at a large Singaporean MNC, says “I believe that in order to win over repeat customers you need to believe in your product first and that you subscribe to the benefits of using this product. That belief must be translated into the product development and marketing message. If you are not the developer of the product the next best thing is to heighten the experience for your customers of using or purchasing the product from you. That is when great service comes in. I could go on. In short, if you believe in the benefits that the product offers, you will want to ensure others enjoy it as much as you do. Which means the product and service becomes one holistic experience that shouldn’t be separated.”

Katrina, APAC Marketing at HubSpot, simply states “A good product that serves the “job to be done” will affect the customer experience so both are intertwined.”

Okay, as you’d expect there isn’t really a straight answer to this questions but some food for thought when pondering over your next campaign or just making a sandwich. Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below. Now I’m feeling hungry…

p.s. The main blog picture is one I took from a cab ride in Singapore!