customer-service.jpgSatisfaction, the San Francisco startup offering an online customer service tool for companies, is hosting the Customer Service is the New Marketing Summit on February 4th. VentureBeat is a sponsor, and we’ll be attending.

In Silicon Valley, companies are so set on efficiency and automation, they forget how frustrating it is for customers to be forced into unending phone message trees, required to fill out “trouble tickets,” or sent to consult obtuse web site customer service pages. We forget about the brand building that can happen with great service.

This Summit focuses on ways to do that. Take one of the speakers, Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos, the online shoe company that emerged in San Francisco in 1999. He’s basically doubled sales every year since 1999 — by providing excellent customer service.

tony.jpgZappos lets you send your shoes back if they don’t fit. Every employee has to work the customer service phones. They use no scripted, formulaic messages; their mandate is merely to help you out as best they can. Read the story about what Zappos did when one its customers died; it went against corporate policy to make a difference, and created an incredible branding story as a result.
Other speakers (see list here; scroll down) are from Virgin, which manages hundreds of companies, Geek Squad, and there’s Alex Frankel, the author of “Punching In: The Unauthorized Adventures of a Front-Line Employee” who will expose the secrets he uncovered while working undercover at some of the most renowned companies (Apple, Starbucks).
We have 25 specially discounted tickets for the Summit, for VentureBeat readers, exclusively available here. The discount code VBSPECIAL will knock $250 off the ticket price of $495. First come, first serve. Full disclosure: Satisfaction is led by Thor Muller, who is an advisor to VentureBeat. See our coverage of Satisfaction here.

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