With the revolution in social media and online communication, one is no longer the loneliest number. One customer is no longer just one customer.
Any one customer can influence great numbers of others through their use of social media platforms as well as a wide and growing range of review options, comment boards, hash tags, and discussion forums.
The Power of One
This impact of one customer can grow and have an immediate and long-standing impact on your business.
Businesses historically have looked at customers as a group. If most of the customers were happy, it was often considered a win. It was not generally seen as a real threat to the product or brand reputation.
This is no longer the case. One customer can create huge ripple effects that can undo or undermine the time and money invested in developing a product or brand.
Your customers don’t have to leave their house to have an impact. They don’t have to even be on your radar screen. One customer with a keyboard can wield incredible power and influence, even if they are incorrect or anonymous.
Smart Money is No Longer Only on Customer Acquisition - Smart Money is on High Quality Customer Service
Huge amounts of money are spent finding and acquiring customers. Investments are made on crafting the message, choosing the media, shooting the spots or programs, developing online marketing plans, and analyzing return on investment numbers. Companies test and re-test until successful marketing campaigns are created. The focus has typically been in gathering information and drilling down to the specifics of each potential customer – marketing to the one.
And, of course, all of this still needs to be done.
But, in today’s world where each customer can be heard and felt (in either a positive or a negative way) in any business’ bottom line, companies must also focus on each customer’s satisfaction as well as their purchase.
Smart money is looking for ways to harness the power of customer service. Strong efforts to keep individual customers are important and valuable. However, whether or not a customer is retained, it is important to try to address each customer’s issue effectively to lessen the likelihood of damage to your business or brand reputation.
Market to the One and Customer Service Caters to the One
While businesses have realized and developed the power of marketing to one, many companies fail to protect themselves. They run a good offense, but not a good defense.
High quality customer service and care provides that good defense.
Customer service is the last place to positively impact your customers and it is the buffer zone to allow issues to be addressed before the “one” customer creates a huge ripple effect.
Many businesses treat customer service as an afterthought – not an important marketing and brand reputation pivot point. They might ask “Why throw money after customers who are not happy?” They give little attention to how powerful customer service can be to improve and protect the bottom line.
Marketing dollars are measured, and much time and attention is directed to making those marketing dollars count on the front end of a sale.
The same care and attention must be placed not only on keeping existing customers happy and purchasing more, but in harvesting their good opinions for a positive online ripple effect. Rather than losing them and, in turn, many other potential customers to negative online comments, it is important to implement techniques to keep customers and create additional marketing value through a positive online ripple effect.
Customer Service and Care - A Powerful Marketing Tool
High quality customer service and care can fill a variety of needs for a business. Customers have a chance to complain, and the business has the chance to take corrective action. Customer service provides the buffer zone to make things right for customers. By giving the opportunity to the customer to vent directly and effectively, it can keep the problem from escalating online and to the world beyond.
Customer service is a place where customer issues can be identified and corrected. Issues with the customer experience can be gathered and provided to make the business as successful (and the customers as happy) as possible. It can provide relief for customers through calls, emails and chat. Chat can be used not only to encourage new sales, but when used for effective customer service, can also provide an excellent and quick opportunity to respond and to help customers. These touch points, and many more, are set up for easy customer access and allow for an excellent way to protect product and brand reputations.
Customer service can save existing relationships (both in hand and continuity) and bring in new sales. This can add significant value directly and indirectly through brand and reputation management programs.
Customer Service Can Transform Web Presence
Not only can customer service address customer issues before they are published on the web, customer service can help manage damage control once a negative post has been made. Customer service can also accentuate the positive online points.
For instance, customer service can be given access to various online sites such as the company’s Facebook page so comments can be responded to and gathered. Positive comments can be reinforced and “thank you” responses made. Negative comments can be responded to or handled in such a way as to demonstrate a responsive company that puts the customer first. In this way, a negative comment can become a positive reflection on the company.
Your customer service solution can also be used to answer online customer questions to increase new sales and address issues on retail sites. Customer service can not only respond to the questions, but it can gather valuable feedback information so businesses can better describe their products in order to produce higher sales.
Online Marketing – Customer Service Enhances Marketing Dollars
Companies are spending increasing amounts on online marketing venues. However, positive customer comments help to keep organic marketing rolling. Customer service, by addressing customer issues, encourages positive comments and minimizes negative comments.
Combining high quality customer service with the ability to identify satisfied customers can result in positive reviews, and encourage customers to take up the marketing effort through their positive comments, liking company sites and other positive feedback. Existing customers with good customer service experiences can have a multiplying effect in acquiring more customers.
Many people will visit company sites as well as third party locations when looking to purchase a product. Often, potential customers will say they are swayed more by the comments of actual customers than the advertising claims. Customer service can be the key to satisfying existing customers so they can help grow the business with additional customers without the cost of additional marketing dollars.
So many social media/online marketing programs are becoming more and more integrated. Videos on YouTube can connect to Facebook which can connect to Instagram which can be shared on Twitter and a vast array of other popular social sites. Virtually any business marketing directly to customers is looking to find more and more ways to access and grow their positive online presence.
With high quality customer service, marketing efforts can be enhanced and multiplied through satisfied customers. Businesses can encourage positive customer engagement with the company. Customer service becomes a key way to enhance reputation management and the value of your marketing dollar.Customer service has taken on increasing importance as the power of each customer has grown. Make sure to focus on having a strong, experienced, high quality customer service and sales solution in place to increase the value of your company and the maintenance of your product and brand reputations.
Robin Stone is CEO/Co-founder of Applied Perceptions LLC, an outsource customer service and sales contact center. Applied Perceptions, established in 2001, is a 100% US based contact center providing a wide range of call, email, chat, text, and social media services. “When Every Contact Counts, Call Applied Perceptions!” She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 805-526-2525.