Customer Service, Marketing & Your Bottom Line
Customer service is important. Regardless of what field your business is in, regardless of who your target market is, or of what you've heard in the past, customer service is imperative to your business' health and success.
If I asked you right now to think of a terrible customer service experience you had, I bet you could rattle off 5 examples without even trying, and hopefully, you'd be able to do the same for stellar customer experiences.
There's even a good chance you have a blacklist of companies that you won't shop at because you had a bad customer experience at (I can't be the only one...)
But let's back up first,
What is customer service?
Salesforce defines customer service as 'the support you offer your customers — both before and after they buy and use your products or services — that helps them have an easy and enjoyable experience with you.' This is more than just answering questions on the phone or helping someone find the right size, this new type of customer support is available via social media, email, web, and text message as well as in personal and the phone. It's fast-paced, high-touch, social and has the potential to boost your brand to wildly new heights.
The customer service and experience you provide is more important than ever before because '89% of companies now expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience' according to Gartner Research. This is especially true with younger generations of shoppers, with whom the product itself is just as important as the experience they receive and the company.
Real World Service Doesn't Have To Be Earth-Shattering:
Several weeks ago, I encountered some world class customer service and how it can elevate your business, from good, to exceptional.
My husband and I were out to dinner at a nice restaurant in the city, and I was expecting good service, and great food, but nothing extraordinary.
Halfway through our meal, an elderly couple was getting ready to leave. The husband was helping his wife up out of her seat and was blocking the traffic through the restaurant. At the same time, a waiter came walking down the aisle with a cocktail for a different table. He approached the couple, saw that she needed some help getting out of the booth, turned around to set the drink back on the counter and proceeded to gently tap the woman on the shoulder and ask if he could help her out.
The woman said she'd appreciate it, and the waiter helped her out of the booth, into her jacket and walked her all the way out of the restaurant before returning to deliver the cocktail.
After the couple had left the building, my husband looked at me, and said, 'that was some of the classiest service I've ever seen.'
Why Does This Matter?
Was the food good? Yes.
Was the service good? Yes.
However, several weeks later, I'm still thinking about that waiter helping that woman from her chair.
It wasn't a huge, showy, expensive display either. It was simply taking good care of people.
Since then, I've left a glowing review on their social media site, recommended friends and family to go there and generally shared my great experience.
"Each interaction a customer has with your brand shapes their perception of you, and those perceptions translate to dollars spent - or not."
- Toni Clayton-Hine, Xerox
This is the power of exceptional customer service
Your customer retention goes up
Happy customers are loyal customers. It's much easier to sell to customers that already know, trust and love your business then it is to find new customers (it's estimated that acquiring new customers costs between 5-7 times more). Lousy customer service is the main reason that customers leave, in fact, a staggering 68% of consumers stop shopping with a business because they're upset with how they were treated.
Your brand and company image will get some love
You can't buy great reviews. If you care about how your business is perceived and the reputation of your business (you should), excellent customer service isn't negotiable. You need to have it. By having great reviews about your brand, your customer service, and your product you're drawing an image of your brand in the heads of potential customers.
These potential customers will begin to think about quality and exceptional service when they think of your products and services.
You'll see a reduction in overall customer difficulties
No matter what you do, you'll run into problems in your business and with customers. But by treating your customers like family, you'll build trust with them. When customers know they can come to your business with an issue, and they'll be heard and well taken care of, they'll feel safe about working with you again and again.
Even if something does go wrong, customers who have had great customer service in the past, are more likely to stick around to work with a business to find a resolution instead of finding a new provider.
Boost your word-of-mouth and referral marketing
One of the best things about superior customer service is the word-of-mouth advertising it generates. You can't buy advertising this good. It's not possible to put a price on how important this type of marketing is either.
According to Neilsen, people are 4 times more likely to buy when referred by a friend. Add to that, that the lifetime value of a new referral customer is 16% higher than a non-referral customer and you'll begin to get a feel for how important this type of marketing (and your customer service) really is (and needs to be). 92% of customers trusted referrals from people they knew.
Personal recommendations and consumer opinions posted online are the most trusted forms of advertising globally - Neilsen.
Customers are willing to pay more for a better experience
86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience.
If you were shopping for a product and knew if you spent $15 more you'd get world-class customer support, you'd do it without blinking right? Help setting up your new gadget, troubleshooting over the phone, empathetic and friendly staff, it's a no-brainer.
Having excellent customer service is beneficial for your bottom line.
By 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. This leaves you several options as a business, you can tier your support options for those willing to pay more for more benefits, support, access, etc. or choose to incorporate the service to all your customers, or one of many other options.
If you are able to make every point of contact your business has with a customer a delight, it will not just make your customers raving fans, but it will make you more money.
Customer service isn't always critical for companies, large or small. But statistics, customers and bottom lines are showing us that we have to make our customer's experience a priority.
By making our new and existing customers ecstatic, your business will see a slew of benefits from happier customers and employees, higher profits and bottom lines, and the best marketing that money can't buy.
What are you going to do or your customers so they feel like the red carpet has been rolled out and they've been helped out of their seat?