Your Most Important Marketing Tool

With more than a decade in the field of marketing, I’ve met many business owners who believe the key to their success lies in a flashy marketing campaign aimed solely at drawing in new customers. All too often, they fail to recognize that a great campaign needs to be supported by the most important marketing tool for any business: customer service.

While a sophisticated marketing and advertising campaign can have a tremendous positive impact on your bottom line, it’s only as strong as the business behind it. If you’re not providing the image you advertise, you’re not likely to see the hoped-for return on investment. As Ben Franklin said, “Well done is better than well said.”

Customer service is the backbone of any business. With the advent of online shopping, people are no longer limited to the local mom and pop shops. The entire world is their shopping cart, and if they’re unhappy with your product or service, they can and will go elsewhere. In today’s social-media driven society, just one bad review can cause untold damage to your brand.

Those with negative experiences aren’t likely to return or send referrals. Customer retention is easier and costs less than customer acquisition. Loyal customers provide repeat business, which is crucial for every company. It’s important to remember that our customers are what make our businesses successful. As Dave Sivers of CD Baby says, “Customer service is the new marketing.” Positive customer service experiences are what drive referrals and lead to positive word of mouth, another great low-cost marketing tool.

The key to building loyalty is providing a great experience, something that will make you exceptional and get people talking. Take Zappos, an online shoe company famous for its incredible customer service. Most companies try to limit the duration of service calls; Zappos, on the other hand, doesn’t hurry its reps to complete calls. It proudly proclaims its longest-ever service call, clocking in at a whopping ten hours and 29 minutes. Superior customer service creates loyal customers while gaining new ones.

Many business owners are under the false assumption that customer service is for fixing problems. On the contrary, customer service is about preventing problems from the start. Putting the proper policies in place ahead of time can prevent most issues before they occur. But remember that when mistakes happen, it’s how you handle them that make all the difference. Work hard to stay on top of your reputation and do your best to resolve all issues in a positive manner.

  • When things go wrong, customers may view you as the cause of their aggravation, which can make them lash out. Remember it’s not a personal attack, just frustration over the current situation.
  • Always remember to show compassion and understanding.
  • Don’t argue with them; apologize and accept blame.
  • If you can’t solve the problem, find another way to make it up to them. A gift card, a discount, a free upgrade, an extra special service… anything that shows the value you place on their loyalty.
  • The customers may not always be right; however, they should always feel like they won. Make them feel important and appreciated. Even if the issue isn’t resolved, they’ll leave satisfied, knowing you did your best.
  • Another often forgotten aspect to customer service is your staff. Ensure all employees are well-trained on your policies. Provide them with the power to properly resolve any issues and trust them to make the right call. No one likes to wait around or hang on to speak with a manager. All customers should receive the same level of service from everyone they come in contact with throughout your company.
  • Interestingly, many companies famous for their outstanding customer service, also have an exceptional level of employee satisfaction. So treat your employees well and in turn, they’ll treat your customers well.

Good customer service consists of reliability, great communication, and generosity. Having a great customer service policy will bring in repeat business and more referrals, gain your customers’ trust, and help you stand out in your market. So make the most of that slick marketing campaign and get more value for your investment by creating an exceptional customer service experience for all your customers.

 

Chaya Teitelbaum is the Owner and Creative Director of Teitel Creative, a full-service design and marketing firm that combines knowledge and inspiration to provide custom solutions along with the highest levels of customer service in the industry. She can be reached at chaya@teitelcreative.com.


The Author