Marketing tools have become increasingly web-based and sophisticated. In their rush to keep up with the latest trends and applications, many business owners forget that one of their prime marketing tools is good, old-fashioned customer service.
While customer service is not considered a ‘tool’ in the same sense as CRM or email marketing software, it can greatly enhance your marketing message by creating connections with customers, resolving problems and building your reputation.
In effect, customer service is the coalface where it all happens. If you don’t get it right here, your other marketing efforts will have a limited impact. Customers may be attracted by a well-crafted marketing image, but they won’t stick around or buy from you again if your service doesn’t meet expectations. Good impressions of your company are built on what you actually do, not what you say you’re going to do.
Integrating Marketing and Customer Service
Its estimated that 70% of people check online reviews prior to making a major purchasing decision. Up to 25% of buyers leave a review, meaning potentially a quarter of your customers could provide a public evaluation of your product or service. Negative ratings can do serious damage to your business, demonstrating why excellent customer service should be a cornerstone of your marketing strategy.
It’s essential to seek regular feedback from customers in the form of surveys and questionnaires to identify any problems with your service. Businesses should also check reviews regularly and monitor mentions of the company on social media platforms, but it doesn’t end there. Integrating marketing and customer service allows the two departments to work together to present a unified image to customers.
Benefits of Cross-training Staff
Frontline service staff have a detailed knowledge of customers that is very beneficial to the marketing team. These insights can help to focus marketing messages and generate content ideas. Customer service staff can also make customers aware of online promotions and conduct research at the point of sale.
It’s a great idea to keep your customer service staff up to date with your marketing strategies and provide basic training in this area. Marketing staff can also benefit from training in dealing with customers. While social media account managers handle inquiries and complaints, they often have no background in customer service. With so much business now being conducted online instead of face-to-face, all staff who interact with customers need to have the skills to create a positive customer experience that affirms your company image.
Focusing on what you can offer through customer service also allows you to come up with unique selling propositions to differentiate your business. For example, do your customer service staff have specialised skills or experience you can promote, or can you offer an additional service your competitors can’t? Simple yet effective promotional ideas can be overlooked when the focus shifts to the latest online marketing tools.
Ensuring that quality customer service is a prominent part of your marketing strategy will help you attract and retain customers.