In the '80s, in the days of Michael Milken and Gordon Gekko, the rule on the street was "eat your young." Nice guys finish last. Hold your information. Keep the rules to yourself. Win at all costs.
No matter who or what you have to trample.
Today, with the advent of mobile technology and 24-hour-connectivity, those days are long gone. And those who have yet to realize that are on their way to being eliminated. If your company isn't "nice" from the top down, your revenues will suffer—and you'll actually spend more money on marketing than you have to.
We live in the "Sharing era." People share for two reasons: to share happiness with a slight sense of smugness (oh, check out this photo of the room upgrade the Westin just gave me!) and to share disappointment, with the logic that people aren't truly miserable about their situation until they've made everyone around them miserable, as well. (Listen to the cell phone conversations the next time your flight lands three hours late.)
We share more now than ever before... simply because we can. Every phone is a broadband ticket to immediacy, with the ability to upload statuses, photos, and videos to the world in real-time.
So, want to improve your marketing and drop your costs? Teach your employees to treat their customers one level above crap.
Let's face it: In addition to being a society of sharers, we're also a society that expects to be treated like crap. You expect the fast-food place to screw up your order, you expect your exit-row window seat to be replaced by a middle seat in the last row of the plane. We expect to be treated like crap, because it's what customer service has generally become.
But... being nice can change all of that. When the rest of the world treats customers like crap, treating yours one level above can make all the difference. And it doesn't even have to be above and beyond (although that's nice, too)—just one level above.