What Can Paul McCartney Teach About Customer Service?

A key customer service principle is to "deliver on the promise of the brand." Every organization owns a particular brand image in the minds of customers, and anything out of alignment with the brand creates a disconnect and a disappointment for the customer.

Imagine, for example checking into a Ritz Carlton hotel only be treated rudely or with an attitude of indifference. The contrast between the brand image and the actual experience would be jarring and memorable. But when the experience and an organization's brand image are in alignment, the result is confidence, trust, and loyalty.

Brand Image + Aligned Experience = Confidence, Trust, Loyalty

Two recent experiences reinforced this formula for me. First was the purchase of Paul McCartney's "Good Evening New York City" 2CD + DVD combo, recorded at the newly constructed Citi Field (on the former site of Shea Stadium). The concert was kind of a tribute to the concert The Beatles played at Shea 44 years earlier. As a fan of anything remotely connected with The Beatles, I immediately purchased the set when I saw it for sale at the Starbucks checkout counter.

My only concern was wondering how McCartney, at 67 years of age, could pull off the quality of voice and musicianship of the music produced when he was in his twenties. Well, what a thrill to listen and watch as he performed Beatles, Wings, and solo classics nearly flawlessly, with the same energy as he did decades ago. Talk about delivering on the promise of the brand. If you're a fan, buy the recording - you won't be sorry.

The second experience took place last evening when my wife and I, along with our sons and their girlfriends, attended an Orlando performance of the Broadway musical, Rent. Many years ago, I saw the play on a rainy day in London and, having no idea what to expect, was completely blown away by the production. I also was delighted by the 2005 movie version of Rent, and have listened to the soundtrack many times.

So, I was prepared for an evening of a familiar show, hoping I wouldn't be disappointed because of that familiarity. Just like McCartney, the cast (including the two original lead actors) performed as though it was opening night for the most important audience in the world. The show was incredible and stirred the same excitement I experienced when I first saw it in 1998.

So, what does any of this have to do with customer service? Well, imagine how many times Paul McCartney has sung the same songs, and how many times the cast of Rent has performed the same play. And yet each time they do it, the performance feels fresh and vital. The performers clearly don't want to disappoint so they give it their all.

A business should operate the same way. Every employee of every organization should understand that:

  • An organization's brand is fragile.
  • An organization's brand image is on the line with every interaction.
  • Yesterday's performance no longer counts. Today's performance drives future loyalty.
  • Disappointment results from a disconnect between an organization's brand image and the actual customer experience.

We can all take a lesson from enduring performers who consistently deliver excellence. These performers recognize that while they may have sung the same songs or delivered the same lines thousands of times, RIGHT NOW is the only time that matters for this customer.

Is your performance timeless?

P.S. If you're serious about improving your organization's customer service, be sure to check out the just released second edition of my book, Unleashing Excellence: The Complete Guide to Ultimate Customer Service.

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