Customer service is the new marketing. This statement may sound suspect coming from me, a customer service consultant; it sounds like an example of “when you have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail” thinking on my part, or even the “drunk looking for his keys under the lamppost because that’s where there’s light” phenomenon.
But if you consider consumer behavior and thought patterns today, you’ll realize that it’s incontrovertibly true. People have lost their faith in gimmicky and overstated mass marketing campaigns and place more stock today in what they experience directly with your company, what their friends have experience, and what the people they listen to online have experienced.
Which means that:
Every return you handle seamlessly and thoughtfully is marketing.
Every repair you make for a product that proves defective, even after the warranty has expired, is marketing.
Every time you provide a “wow” customer service experience, adding emotional transportation to the experience of your customer, it’s marketing. (There’s more from me on wow customer service here and here, plus some wow-inspiring examples here and here.)
When you assist a customer’s family members, even though they’re not directly your customers (like my travel agent did recently for my aging dad), that’s marketing.
A well-designed customer experience is also marketing:
• A warm and inviting entrance experience.
• A seamless exit experience, and a payment experience that doesn’t slow customers down.
• FAQ’s that are actually helpful.
• Self-service that actually works.
So, it’s time to ask yourself: How’s your marketing, your newly-defined marketing, going so far?
If the answer is “not so well,” or “We’re not really sure,” it’s time to get to work, to look at the customer service and customer experience you provide, whether in person or digitally, at every step of the customer’s journey,and revamp it, as need be, until you can answer confidently in the affirmative. You’ll be amazed what a difference this makes to your bottom-line position now, and its sustainability, looking forward.
Micah Solomon is an author, consultant, keynote speaker, trainer. Customer service, customer experience, customer service culture, hospitality, leadership, innovation (email, web).