When you think of marketing, what comes to mind? You’re probably thinking of promotional activities that drive customers to your business—advertising, social media, newsletters, blogging, search engine optimization, tradeshows, sponsorships, networking, speaking, and more. Something that may not come to mind is customer service, but strong customer service is actually an essential part of successful marketing.
Many people mistakenly understand the term marketing to mean promotional activities. But more broadly speaking, marketing includes the overall process of developing a demand for your product or service and then fulfilling your customer’s needs. It’s the entire process that drives your product from concept to customer.
Perhaps you’ve heard of the 4 Ps of Marketing—Product, Price, Place, Promotion. The product is the thing that you’re selling—whether a physical item, service, or concept. Price is based on demand and positioning. Place refers to the ways in which the product is distributed. And promotions are the activities that drive people to your door or website.
The American Marketing Association defines marketing as “ the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”
Once you understand the broader and more inclusive definition of marketing, it’s easy to recognize that of course customer service is marketing, and it was always intended to be.
That profitable customer relationship doesn’t simply stem from a customer’s limited encounter with your promotional materials, but also by way of the customer’s experience with your company’s products, services, and team members.
Your promotional activities will teach customers why they should buy and it might get them in the door, but it’s good customer service that will keep them there and coming back for more.
All of the promotional activities in the world can’t make up for a poor customer experience. Your product has to be good, your pricing has to create the right sense of value, the distribution channel has to be convenient and well placed, and the promotions have to strike the right chord at the right time. But everything else can fall to pieces if the customer doesn’t have positive personal encounters.
Strong relationships built from respect and trust drive customer loyalty. A poor customer service experience that leaves the customer feeling dismissed, under-appreciated, or disrespected will counteract everything else you do as a business owner.
Good Customer Service Creates Loyal Customers
Want your customers to stop shopping around and stick with you? Then you have to treat their concerns with care and attention. Make certain they know they can rely on you to give them what they want. If you show that you’re committed to them, they will be dedicated to you and contribute to the sustainability and growth of your business.
Cared For Customers Bear Smart Ideas
Some of the most valuable advice and input you’ll get in your business won’t come from advisors or mentors, but from your customers. Making customer care a priority and taking customer service concerns seriously is the best way to keep your finger on the pulse of your business, get intimate with what’s working and what’s not, and get valuable ideas and feedback to fuel your success.
Delighted Customers Are Natural Ambassadors
Everyone talks about great customer service they receive. If you’re attentive and responsive to your customer’s needs, you’ll create the kind of impression they can’t keep to themselves. People love to rant about poor customer service, and they love to rave about excellent customer service. So the better you get at providing top-notch customer care, the more likely your customers will sing your praises and refer their friends your way.
So if you want customer service to be a profit center in your business—by retaining long term customers that buy again and again, generating bright ideas and nipping problems in the bud, and encouraging word-of-mouth buzz, investing in customer service is key.
Some of our top tips for killer customer service include:
Set reasonable expectations from the start. By doing this, you’ll have the opportunity to go above and beyond what’s expected. One sure way to shine in your customer’s eyes is to under-promise and over-deliver.
Listen carefully. Everyone wants to feel heard. The best way to avoid customer service problems is to listen attentively from the outset and pay close attention. The best way to diffuse customer service problems once they arise is to shut up, listen respectfully, and only then offer a possible solution.
Set standards. Everyone on your team should be aware of your company’s standards for customer service. Put policies in place to standardize interactions to cut down on misunderstandings. Treating customers fairly and consistently will go a long way in developing a sense of trust and enhancing your company’s reputation for excellent customer care.
Show appreciation. Follow up with customers to thank them for their business. Check in with them regularly and proactively to see how they’re feeling about your products and services. Let them know their business matters to you and find out if there are any additional ways you can address their needs.
There’s no sense in pouring your time and resources into an amazing website and sophisticated marketing strategies if you’re not willing to prioritize customer service as part of your marketing efforts.
It’s time to tear down the distinction between marketing and customer service, which happens to be something we help our clients do successfully. So give the team at Solamar a shout!