Customer service is more important to your marketing strategy today than many business owners realize. Because of brand exposure via social media, marketing needs to be concerned with the entire customer experience. Companies that provide excellent customer service strengthen their marketing by simplifying the task of tracking and managing the perception of your brand. If your customer service is brilliant, marketing becomes the process of staying visible to your customers and prospects.
When your customer service is lacking, marketing then has an added burden of reputation management – tracking and responding to negative reviews.
Customer Service is Critical to Reputation Management and Effective Marketing
With review sites such as Yelp taking prominent positions in the search engine results for local business searches, businesses must know what is being said about them and why. It has become too easy to submit reviews for the world to see, but when you have a disgruntled customer, negative reviews are a given. In a world where consumers trust online reviews more than company marketing messages, people will scour the Internet to get help when trying to decide which product to buy or service to hire.
Create a quality brand reputation through superior customer service
- Include customer service in your marketing plan. Create a total customer experience that includes providing excellent customer service, from answering emails quickly, returning phone calls and resolving complaints quickly and professionally. Do you know how your current clients view their experience with your business? Do you go out of your way to provide something of value that strengthens your relationship with your clients and sets you apart from your competition?
- Nurture your current clients to ensure future references and testimonials. If you want to land new clients, use your relationship with your current clients and ask them to provide reviews for you on these review sites. Who better to tell the world about you than your existing, satisfied clients?
- Create a customer experience that is worth talking about. So many small business owners tell me how they feel “nickel and dimed” by their service providers. They avoid calling to ask a question because it results in an invoice regardless of the type of question asked. I’m not suggesting that you give your services away for free but can you create service packages that include access to you via phone and email for those burning questions that only you can answer? A great example of superior service is a real estate attorney I used who charges a flat fee for a closing. The fee may be a bit higher, but having this attorney available when needed without wondering if I was going to be charged was not only liberating, but it made the closing process that much less stressful.
- Monitor your reputation online and respond to negative reviews professionally. Businesses will never please all customers all the time. Those who have had a bad customer experience will be vocal about their concerns. You can run but you cannot hide so respond to these reviews professionally, honestly and humbly whenever you can. If the only review visible on the Internet is a one star negative review, your business will feel the pain. But surround that one bad review with several quality reviews and it will fade away.
Having the best marketing being executed to drive inbound leads and new clients is a wonderful thing. But if paired with average customer service, one bad review or customer experience can turn all your marketing into a wasted effort. Before your business finds itself in this situation, make it a priority to provide an experience that your customers will be happy to acknowledge publicly with quality reviews and referrals.
How does your company add “WOW” to its customer service?