By Shep Hyken

A Marketing Idea: Deliver Amazing Customer Service
14 November 2017 | 10:36 am

Customer service and marketing have traditionally been viewed as two separate departments, but more and more, their interdependence is coming into focus. It’s even been said that customer service is the new marketing.

Traditional marketing is typically an expensive proposition involving advertising and other ways to reach potential customers and make an impression. The goal is to get them “in the door” – be it in person, on the phone or to your website. However, studies are proving that typical marketing messages are becoming less and less effective, and in some cases, customers are flat-out skeptical.

However, one form of marketing that has proven very effective is word of mouth. Potential customers trust the opinions of their colleagues and friends far more than traditional marketing messages, and that is where customer service comes in. The concept is that if you want more business, and new customers, deliver amazing customer service to your existing customers. Not only will your customers come back, they’ll also tell their friends, colleagues and family members about you.

So, customer service, while maybe not the new marketing, as many are referring to it, has become an important part of any business’ marketing strategy.

My friend Tom Baldwin, former CEO and President of Morton’s The Steakhouse restaurants, believed in this concept completely. When he was at the helm of the restaurant chain, they didn’t advertise on TV or radio or in print publications. He would proudly claim that the restaurant’s employees were the best marketing department. The guests were simply presented with great food and an amazing customer service experience, and they would walk out happy, return for another fabulous meal and tell others about it too.

Another company that builds its marketing efforts around customer service was featured in my book, Amaze Every Customer Every Time. Ace Hardware is a chain of independently owned local hardware stores, many of which compete against much larger “big box” stores such as Lowe’s and Home Depot. The bigger stores, with bigger marketing budgets, spend up to 30 times more on advertising. Yet somehow, Ace is successful, and its secret is simple. Ace amazes customers with its special brand of helpful customer service. Even the traditional advertising that Ace puts out is not focused on the product or the price – it’s all centered around the amazing service that Ace offers.

Zappos.com is another company that promotes customer service as its value proposition. They don’t view customer service as a cost, but instead as an opportunity to amaze customers to the point that they evangelize the company. There are many other places where customers can buy the shoes and other items that Zappos offers, but again, it’s not just about the product. It’s about the promises that Zappos makes and keeps. And that consistency builds trust, and happy customers who tell others about their experience.

Customer service has come to the forefront as companies, large and small, make promises of a higher level of service. There are even awards given to companies that excel at customer service, increasing the awareness of its importance. Customers are more aware and better educated. Now more than ever, customers know what good customer service looks like, and they demand it from all of the places they do business.

Traditional advertising may play a role in getting customers in the door, but it’s not what makes them come back. The customer service that you offer, and how you make them feel, is what brings them back – and their family and friends, too.

And keep in mind that customers who receive bad service will also tell others about it. Or, in today’s social media world, it’s more accurate to say that they will broadcast it. They will share their experience with their friends and colleagues – and the world – via Twitter, Facebook, Yelp and other social channels.

So, as part of your marketing efforts, make the promise of an exceptional customer service experience, and then deliver on that promise so well that your customers not only want to come back, but also talk to others about you. Customer service is not just a department. It’s a smart marketing strategy.

 

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