Like PB&J: Customer Service as a Marketing Strategy

Business.com / Customers / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Customer service is the new marketing. As seen with Amazon and Zappos, providing ultimate satisfaction to your customers sells itself.

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Well done is better than well said.” Your customers respond better to what you do for them rather than what you say you’re going to do; and this is exactly why outstanding customer service needs to be part of your marketing strategy.

Customer service and marketing should have a harmonious relationship. The two should go hand in hand like peanut butter and jelly.

You rely on your marketing tactics to draw in new customers and increase your revenue, so you should also use it along with customer service to strengthen your relationships with your current customers to retain the customers the marketing budget spent obtaining them in the first place and to retain even more revenue. You have a 60-70% chance of getting business from your existing customers compared to only a 5-20% chance of selling to new prospects.

No matter what your business is, remember you’re not just selling the product or service you provide; you’re selling customer service.

Benefits of Implementing Customer Service Into Your Marketing Strategy

When your business focuses on good customer service as your marketing strategy, it positively affects your bottom line, reducing your business costs and increasing your prices. In fact, 7 in 10 Americans said they’d spend more money with companies they thought provided outstanding customer service.

It gives you a competitive edge, which keeps consumers coming back spending their money with you and referring others to do the same; something Nelson James, Co-Founder and COO of Signs.com, has personally seen and experienced with his online custom signage business for a few years now.

"Customer service is a critical part of our marketing efforts at Signs.com. We work hard to make sure we have incredible customer service that sets us apart from our competitors,” he said. “In addition to our excellent products, our customer service is why people choose us in the first place and the main reason people keep coming back. 

The majority of our customer reviews are based on how our customers are treated by our customer service team and we pay close attention to what people say. Good reviews help us establish trust and confidence with our customers.

A positive experience with customer service creates loyal, happy customers that spread the word about our service, driving referrals. On the other hand, bad reviews can severely hinder sales and ultimately damage the brand. 

Making sure we have top-of-the-line customer service is one of our most important marketing efforts and it yields serious results.  Good customer service gives us a unique selling proposition, repeat business, increased trust, branding and word of mouth. That sounds like excellent marketing to me."

Related Article: Why Efficient Customer Service is Better Than Friendly

Combining customer service and marketing also provokes better internal communications and having united messaging throughout your company. When the two work together, your customer service department is aware of any special promotions the marketing department is advertising or content that’s being put out that they can refer customers to. Your overall marketing strategy should encourage cross-departmental cooperation, and that’s exactly what you get when you integrate customer service as a marketing strategy.

It also leads to more people being involved in social media support, which equals better social media support. You most likely have a social media manager or a social media account management team that handles your social media accounts. The problem there is that they’re trained on those platforms, paid ads, etc., but are they trained in properly handling customer service issues? Most likely, no. But those in your customer service department are.

Today, consumers don’t just use social media to engage with their friends and family; they use it to ask for help from companies and share their good and bad experiences with various brands. This is why 75% of marketers that use social media classify customer service as a main use of those platforms, and why your marketing department needs your customer service representatives help in handling sensitive customer service problems, whether that means using a social media management tool like Hootsuite that makes collaboration easy or having your representatives train your social media folk.

The last benefit is having a better understanding of who your customers are, which induces another benefit: generating more content topics. Correlating customer service and marketing gives you a clearer knowledge of your buyer personas. You have a deeper understanding of what your customers’ needs, interests and pain points are, as well as where your customers spend their time online. When you know those things, it helps you craft the right content types that answer your customers’ questions and solves their problems, and you know which online platforms to share your content on.

Marketers know creating valuable, consistent content is extremely important to their marketing strategy, but even content creators who have years of experience can struggle to come up with great content ideas. But when you open the lines of communication between your marketing and customer service teams, problem solved.

Related Article: Tips to Improve Customer Service on Your E-commerce Site 

How To Improve Your Customer Service Efforts

Too often businesses believe they provide amazing customer service, but their customers don’t always agree. About 80% of companies say they provide great customer service, while only 8% of consumers think those companies deliver great customer service.

Obviously you don’t want such a small percentage of your customers to think you provide good customer service. So, what can you do? How can you improve your customer service, which will then have a ripple effect and improve your overall marketing strategy? Here’s how:

  • Be more efficient.
  • Be reliable.
  • Be accommodating and respectful.
  • Show genuine interest.
  • Say, “Thank you.”
  • Follow through with what you say you’ll do.
  • Use social media as a customer service tool.
  • Listen to what your customers are saying about you online, and respond to the praise and complaints using the right tone.
  • Make great customer service an engrained part of your business.

You can also look to companies known for their outstanding customer service and follow their examples. The first company that pops into most people’s minds is Zappos. This online retailer’s No. 1 family core value is to “Deliver WOW Through Service.” And they do it time and time again. Just do a Google search, and you’ll find story after story of customers raving about the amazing customer service they experienced with Zappos.

Two other companies to put on your radar are Amazon.com and Trader Joe’s. Amazon.com offers free shipping and automatic refunds when service principles aren’t abided by, and they have thousands of customer service representatives who are some of the best in the business. Trader Joe’s earns a mention thanks to stocking shelves with local goods and products local communities recommend, and above all, doing the right thing.

Derek Sivers, entrepreneur and founder of CD Baby, made a bold statement when he said, “Customer service is the new marketing.” And Derek, I couldn’t agree with you more.

Take your marketing strategy up a notch. Be the best in your industry by making customer service part of your marketing strategy.

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