Why Customer Service is a BIG Freaking Part of Marketing
Sometimes marketing really is as simple as common sense. One of those matters of common sense is customer service. You can have the best damn marketing out there, but if your customer service is awful, you’re shooting yourself in the foot and paying for the privilege.
For example, if I go to any establishment, pay for any service or product, there is a certain way that I expect to be treated. And, depending on the price that expectation varies. If I am at the Four Seasons, the customer service better be spectacular. And if it isn’t… man oh man are they in trouble. Because I vote with my wallet, as so many consumers do. Not only that, but I also share my experience on the wonderful world wide web for all to see.
So, here is my advice on incorporating outstanding customer service into your marketing strategy.
Talk to People, Like, Um, People.
This seems like customer service 101, but I see company reps make this mistake all of the time. Even if you’re a B2B business, you need to talk to people like they are people and like they matter. Monitor what is going on within your business so that you can see the people that shine and coach the people on your team who are not as much of the people person you need them to be. Ask customers how they would rate their reps. Encourage being ‘nice’ and personable with monthly awards. And, if there are people who are just not doing a great job – cut them loose. Your company will benefit and they will find something better suited to them.
Listen. Close your mouth.
A few years ago we did a listening exercise at a conference. The object was to repeat what your partner said about something that defined them. Half of the room couldn’t because they were so preoccupied with what they were going to say when it was their turn. Tell your sales team, customer service reps or anyone who has contact with customers to stop trying to talk and to simply listen. You’ll be amazed at what you learn about your customers and how much they appreciate it.
Stop treating customers like dollars.
The moment you start looking at your customers in terms of dollars you may as well wave goodbye. People are people. Not acquisitions. Even if you’re a B2B company – the ones who decide to work with you or not are people. You need to empathize with them, understand them as a person, not just as a company or your next sale, and know them. The easiest way to do this? In every single email that you send out, be sure not to just talk business. Ask after the knee that they hurt while skiing, or their daughter who just went off to college. If possible, have coffee or a drink and don’t talk business. Just get to know them.
Do what you say you’ll do.
Under promising and over delivering is my kinda business. So is honesty. I hate being wrong generally, but especially about something that I promised a client. I appreciate when people give me worst case scenario. I want to know the reality, not what sales people think they need to say. There is nothing worse than someone telling you one thing and then something else happening. Or, promising a certain quality of product or service and it being total crap. The best policy is to just be real.
Go the extra mile.
Being in business isn’t always black and white. There are always shades of gray and it’s up to your team to be able to identify them. Small gestures win people over because it isn’t the norm and people remember it. Today I was sitting in a Starbucks between meetings catching up on my email. The shop was dead and instead of calling out my name or what I ordered the barista walked my drink out to me when it was ready. Not only that, but each employee knew an elderly couple by name and came out to greet them when they arrived. Those small acts guaranteed that I come back to particular Starbucks instead of the other coffee shop down the street.
Deal with your shit.
There is just no avoiding making mistakes. We’re all human. But own them. I meet with clients all the time who have bad reviews online and they want them removed. But, when I ask them if they’re valid they grudgingly admit they are “but…”. There are no buts. Someone was snarky to a customer. Someone didn’t deliver on a promise. A shipment arrived late. Whatever the reason, you have to own the outcome because that is the integrity you wanted when you started your business. Making an effort to make it better goes really far, even if it’s small. There will always be those people who can never be pleased, but at the end of the day you’ll know that you and your team tried your best to make it right and other people will see that too.
Here’s to treating people the way we want to be treated,
Chief Marketing Afficionado, Madison Taylor Marketing