Are you a non-believer when it comes to viewing customer service as an integral component of your marketing plan — one that can easily make or break its success? Take a look at these five eye-opening reasons to embrace the importance of stellar service in marketing.
1. Marketing brought customers this far…but poor service can drive them away. Seems like Business 101, but are the public faces of your business — your receptionist, cashiers, sales help, service reps or call center staff —firmly on board with your mission statement and marketing goals?
Whether you want customers to feel comfortable or pampered, grateful or thrifty, be crystal clear with staff about the overarching goal of every customer contact. And don’t skimp on the training, feedback, rewards and ongoing monitoring to help them send the right message…and recognize that they’re accountable for its success.
2. Coddled customers become evangelists faster than the merely satisfied. How do customers feel when they conclude their business with you? If you’re settling for satisfied, that’s no longer enough — especially in a crowded selling environment, where points of true differentiation can be hard to come by.
Take the day spa business, for example. With five locations across southern New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Toppers Spa Salon knows the competition is fierce. But they also recognize that simple things keep customers loyal — such as opening a new bottle of premium nail polish for every manicure and pedicure, then sending the customer home with that bottle and a nail file in a stylish little logo tote. That’s probably a $3 hit to the bottom line, but a priceless gesture when it comes to added value.
3. Unhappy customers have bigger mouths than happy ones. We’ve all heard the statistics: thrill a customer and they might tell one friend, but aggravate them even the slightest and they’ll shout it to the world. And with the megaphone of social media, the shouting can be louder, more widespread and more damaging than ever before.
Your customer service policy should be viewed as an extension of your marketing plan. Are your policies on payment terms, returns, refunds, email opt-outs and satisfaction guarantees clearly posted and accessible to customers before they buy? Are reps trained to look for win-win scenarios that won’t get you skewered on someone’s next tweet? Do they have sufficient leeway to solve most issues without having to escalate to a supervisor?
Designate someone to stay on top of the cyber buzz, and be prepared to address posted criticisms in a timely, non-defensive fashion.
4. Don’t lose the lesson. Complaints, though often unpleasant, have tremendous value when viewed as a learning experience. A well-handled complaint can actually increase customer loyalty, because typically the only people who take the time to complain are regular users of your product or service. Soothe them effectively and chances are you’ll have an evangelist for life.
Listen objectively to complaints and you may uncover golden opportunities for more customer-centric service — from clarifying the language on a proposal to more intuitive online navigation or refining your packaging for easier opening.
5. It’s never “just” a transaction. Close to 60% of email marketing messages go unread, according to internal benchmark statistics from DoubleClick. So what are customers reading? Transactional emails, like those confirming a purchase. Are you leveraging the untapped marketing potential of these simple messages?
Just because they’re automated, that doesn’t mean they can be created and ignored. When was the last time you reviewed the content of your so-called transactional emails — newsletter sign-up confirmations, welcome emails, preference pages, opt-outs or refer-a-friend features?
Often, these communications are the first — and maybe the last — touchpoint for a new customer, so make sure they’re working as hard as possible for you.
One final thought…the next time you suffer through a bad service experience, turn it into an opportunity for learning. What would you do differently under the same circumstances? How could the business win you back? Then smile, knowing that next time you’ll be ready to turn a customer’s complaint into a marketing home run.