Customer Service Marketing
By Jamie Duncan
Word of mouth is without a doubt the most powerful and trusted form of marketing. A happy customer is your best sales person, an influential and loyal ambassador of your brand – and their friends and family will listen.
The trouble is, people are much more likely to share bad customer service experiences with their peers.
This is why a clear customer service plan should be an integral part of your overall business marketing strategy. In short, you must ensure that you and your staff go above and beyond, excel in your service so that your customers become ambassadors for your company by sharing these great experiences with their network. Remember, business is all about PEOPLE – it’s likely that your customers can go elsewhere to get the required products or service, so be sure to give them the best possible service imaginable so they come back to YOU.
How do I implement this strategy in practice?
The customer journey – imagine yourself in their shoes
Put yourself through the entire customer journey from beginning to end. How do they find you? How do they contact you? Try dummy telephone and email runs. Do you run a store? Is it well-stocked, fully sign posted and easy to get around? How do you handle complaints? Your job is to make your customers’ lives as easy as possible – take the stress away from the customer journey and ultimately your job will be much easier too. Think about the rules that apply to your business and include the journey in your customer service strategy. Remember, even if the service doesn’t go well first time around, you have an opportunity to turn that around and excel on the second attempt – in fact, your customers will remember how well you handled that situation and are much more likely to come back as a result.
Hire the right people
This might sound obvious, but you’ll be amazed how many people who work in a customer service role are actually, well, not very good at customer service. Hire people who are naturally helpful, who emit a positive aura and reflect that energy upon the rest of your team and, ultimately, your customers. Hire hard working people and for goodness sake DO NOT hire anyone who makes a habit of bringing their personal problems into the workplace. Of course, sometimes you’re not going to know some of these things until they’re in the job – that’s why it’s often good practice to have a probationary period of employment, and have interview systems in place which help identify these characteristics.
Communication and Training
Communicate regularly, openly and honestly with your customers. Did you mess up their order? Promote integrity and tell them you messed it up – they’re much more likely to respect this and understand. After all, human beings make mistakes. All you can do is have the proper staff training and business systems in place to help reduce errors. Be sure that your customers have multiple channels to be able to contact you, and vice versa. Telephone, email and social media channels should cover most bases.
Tied to communication, be sure to engage your customers, remind them that you exist. Send tailored offers via email and converse with them via social media. Send them a hand written Christmas card or a small gift on special occasions to let them know that you’re thinking of THEM.
Customer retention is vital to the LONG TERM sustainability of your business. Keep track of your most loyal customers and reward them accordingly – a simple “thank you” voucher to spend in your store can go a long way. I’m not saying you need an elaborate loyalty programme (does Tesco’s Clubcard encourage brand loyalty for you?), keep it PERSONAL.
Getting feedback from your customers is vitally important – excellent customer service needs to be consistent, and your strategy needs to continuously evolve . Feedback from all of your customers, the engaged to the more distant, is the only way you’ll know what’s working and what’s not. Speak to your customers face to face and via social media. Create a survey and send it out via email. Fill out a card in store and incentivise them by entering them into a prize draw.
This is so simple, but is another small thing that can go a long way. It doesn’t take anything to add a please, thank and a smile to your conversations. Customers will notice bad manners and will be unlikely to give you repeat business as a result.
Finally, the customer is not always King (warning – swear words imminent)
You know what? I don’t buy the “Customer is always right” bullshit. Some customers are just plain wrong – just make sure you recognise when this is the case. You’re never going to please everyone. It’s best to cut your losses with customers who go out their way to make your life hell – don’t deal with them again, it’s simply not worth the hassle in the long run. These types of customers will never be good ambassadors of your brand, no matter how hard you try.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I hope you found it helpful and can take something from it and apply it to your own business. I would much appreciate a “share” via the buttons below if you felt it was a worthy read!