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What Service Drives Can Learn From The Bud Light Controversy

After Anheuser-Busch launched a marketing campaign featuring a transgender influencer, many of the company’s loyal Bud Light customers were outraged, and their stock took a major hit. As Chris sees it, the move signaled a disregard for the brand’s core demographic by taking a stance in a political conversation when they would have been better off avoiding it completely.

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Lesson #1: Don’t Impose Your Will On Your Customers

It’s a simple lesson, but it’s a powerful one. Anheuser-Busch learned this lesson the hard way after a partnership with a transgender influence cause their stock value to plummet more than $5 billion.

Regardless of how you feel about this campaign, I think there’s a valuable lesson to be learned here. Anheuser-Busch knows their demographic. They know what their customers want. They know how their customers want to be marketed to. And in doing this campaign, they went against the grain in a big way. 

We need to respect our customers or they’ll turn on us. 

You can’t take customers for granted. We need to do whatever we can to cater to them. If any part of our process involves imposing our will onto them, it’s time to reevaluate. How can we make them feel that they’re in control? How can we show them how much we value their business?

And as far as getting involved in political and social controversies, I find that it’s usually best to just steer clear. A lot of brands feel compelled to take a stance on these kinds of issues in today’s marketplace, and it’s always a risk. 

I say just avoid the noise. Figure out how to best serve your customers, and do that on a consistent basis. It’s not guaranteed that they come back to you next time they need service, and we have to do our best to keep that in mind.

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Lesson #2: Your Customers Pay The Bills

Don’t ever lose sight of that. 

Christian told me a great story on the show this week. He was in a dealership recently, and had the opportunity to sit back and watch the advisors go about their day. 

He noticed an interesting trend…

An upset customer would come up to the desk, give the advisors a hard time, and then as soon as they left, the advisor would look to their co-worker and say “Man, that customer was crazy. What an idiot! What a lunatic!” 

Another customer came up. Same deal. “Man, that customer was crazy.” And another one. And another one. This kind of trend is pretty common. We’ve all dealt with our fair share of escalated customers. But this…this wasn’t a one-off or a bad day.

This was a problem. 

Of course we have to blow off steam and commiserate with our team. But what we can’t do is sit here all day and complain about our customers. 

If you start to disdain your customers, that attitude is going to creep into how you work on a day-to-day basis. It’s going to influence how you treat your customers, and soon enough, they’ll be able to tell that you don’t like them. You’ll start to act in your own best interest, not theirs. And that’s only going to make things worse. 

Your customers pay the bills. Don’t ever lose sight of that. So you can call them crazy all day long, but if that’s the case, you’re in the business of helping crazy people. And maybe it’s time to take a step back. 

What’s making your customers crazy? 

Is it possible that your system has too many hoops to jump through? Are you making the service process more complicated than it needs to be? Do you communicate with your customers on a consistent basis? Are you making the process as simple as it can be?

The bottom line: Our customers keep the doors open. If we’re badmouthing them as soon as they leave the room, what does that say about our business processes?

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