If actions speak louder than words, then it’s no surprise that customer service is playing a larger and larger role in peoples’ buying decisions. Today’s marketplace is packed with redundant products and services, so we turn to big-picture differentiators, like brand reputation and buying experience, to help us make purchasing decisions. This is also part of why we talk to our friends and networks about their experiences with a brand or product, and share our own experiences, as well.
Before the Internet, though, we’d tell a few friends about our fantastic or horrible experience with a brand, and they’d tell a few people, and eventually it would fizzle out, probably not having reached more than 20 people by the time the conversation died. But now, if we have a great (or equally bad) experience, we can share that experience in a blog post, a blog comment, a tweet, a video, a Facebook status update, and on and on, and that commentary could potentially be seen and shared by hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people.
That kind of mass exposure has a definitive impact on brand reputation and, ultimately, sales.
Now that your customers can have such a huge voice in the marketplace, it stands to reason that they need to be handled with a bit more care than the traditional customer service model allows. In the best case, that fantastic care you give will make your customers champions for your brand.
Customer Service is More Than a Department
Companies such as Bupa and AAMI are known for their customer-focused business models. Everything they do, from pre-transaction to post-transaction is focused on making sure the customer experience is as high-quality as possible. Customer service for these companies is not just a department, it’s an important part of the corporate culture.
In these instances, because the customer service mindset lives outside the walls of a single department, the job of every employee to a certain extent is to speak on behalf of the customer. Internal and external conversations, marketing collateral, and larger business initiatives take into consideration the customer, making the entire system more inviting, personal, and people-friendly.
The Marketing Angle
At the end of the day, your business relies on relationships. People choose to buy from you because they like the relationship opportunity your brand presents — it feels good to them — and they come back because they get satisfaction from that relationship they’ve built with you. You’ve solved a problem of theirs and done it in a way that fits them.
To that end, strong relationships will always be talked about, be they with another person, a company, a product, or a service. We share the experiences we have in our relationships with others as a way to connect and relate, and the more extreme the experience (good or bad) the more it will get talked about.
Simply, if you provide top-notch customer service, people will talk about you. They’ll tell others about how well they were treated in your care, what they thought of your product or service, and if they’ll be going back to you for future purchases. With such good word being spread, others will be interested in your products and services, and they’ll seek you out, too.
Creating a positive and personal customer experience is a fantastic way to get people referring their friends, family, and larger networks to your company. The personal reference has power, and it’s one of the strongest marketing tools a brand can work to develop.
How are you improving customer service inside the walls of your company? How do you think those improvements will impact the way your customers, prospects, and community talk about you?