Perfect Pairing: Marketing and Customer Service0
True story: On a visit to New York City I bought some chocolates from a famous chocolatier, carefully selecting special gifts for my co-workers. When I returned, my boss’ gift contained not only the wrong flavors, but flavors that she REALLY didn’t like. I was mortified. I called the company, to see if I could get the one selection replaced. The next day I received a replacement of the entire order overnighted. That’s not just lagniappe, that’s how customer service becomes a marketing tool. Because, of course, I became not just repeat customer but a brand evangelist.
As a local business, word of mouth is the most important and most cost effective marketing you can have. I’d say especially when you are building your business, but in reality, even a well-established business can suffer from the effects of poor customer service. Customer service plays a huge role in satisfied customers who reward you with loyalty and repeat business. And with increased competition online and off, your customer service can make you stand out. Customers increasingly turn to social media, and the retribution for poor customer service can be both swift and severe.
Long-Term Reputation vs Short-Term Profit
Although your business may be built one sale at a time, trying to optimize profits sale by sale leads to frustration and disappointment for both you and your customers. Poor customer service can lose not only the singe sale, but repeat business and tarnish your reputation in the process. Great customer service will win you brand loyalty, repeat business, and great word of mouth marketing.
Customer Service on Social Media
Social media platforms let you have genuine, personal conversations with your customers, and web users have become used to the human element in their customer service interactions. When you respond quickly and politely to comments on your social media pages, you build brand loyalty. If the problem can’t be resolved online, invite customers to contact you personally offline. Personalized attention shows your customers that you care about their experiences and value their business.
Accessibility Is Key
Once a customer has contacted you with a problem or issue, either by email, phone, or a visit to your establishment, providing a great customer experience will turn the tide in your favor. Make sure your employees understand the importance of customer service, and train and empower them to make decisions if problems should arise. Follow up to ensure the problem was resolved successfully, and listen to their feedback. They’ll more likely remain loyal if they feel their opinions matter and they can make a difference.
Even national companies are trending back to local and providing great customer service by empowering local agents to engage with their customers. It can become an extra competitive edge that keeps customers coming back for more, and telling their friends. The extra effort you put into training personnel and building relationships with your customer base will pay you big dividends in the long term.