I was reading one of the Guerilla Marketing books (great books by the way), and it said that you need to make sure you have your customer service right before you use any great marketing tactics; otherwise you will only speed up the demise of your business.
I saw a great example of this on a trip to the beach. A small ice cream stand had sent a girl (about 10 years old) out to pass out coupons for a free ice cream cone. This was truly Guerilla Marketing, and it seemed to be working.
Our group of children and adults all walked over to claim our ice cream cone. It seemed obvious an owner operator ran the shop, and she was stressed out and short with the customers. One of the cones wasn’t right and someone asked her about it. While she took the action to make it right, her attitude completely negated any goodwill she could have earned.
So the end result is that we won’t go back there again. They went through all of the work to get us in the door, including giving us free ice cream. All of this and they would have better off if we hadn’t heard of them.
You can learn two lessons from story. One, if you don’t have your customer service at 100% (or don’t have your product/service right), don’t focus on marketing. Two, if you are committed to providing good customer service, you must both take the right actions and express the right attitude. It’s often been said that actions speak louder than words, but I would argue that many times businesses take the actions of good customer service, but in the process make the customer feel bad, thus destroying the relationship.