This is the golden age of customer service. Or it should be!
Companies and brands can thrive or tank based on their customer service practices. Clearly, customer service (CS) is central to your company's reputation.
To leverage this core operations function as a powerful public relations tool, companies need to look at their internal and external practices, especially their communications.
For this issue of Marketing Coach, I interviewed author and small business expert Barry Moltz, who sheds light on the ways that CS can contribute to great PR. We'll take a quick dive into the high impact technology and communications tools, and how customers tie your CS to your reputation and their loyalty.
"In a world without boundaries, every customer service move adds or subtracts from your reputation."
- Barry Moltz
Technology Changes All
We've come a long way! Old: delivery dates days or weeks out and in-person shopping to try on clothes. Today: same day delivery and you can use an app to virtually see what a particular clothing item would look like on you.
Both the good news and the bad news is that there are so far more ways to communicate with customers these days based on all of the technology available. The channel or tool for communication will depend on who your customers really are.
Technology advancements are creating new ways for businesses to provide outstanding customer service not possible before. The largest and smallest businesses that arm themselves with these new ways to keep customers happy will enjoy loyal followers that spread the word, and will gain an edge over the competition.
According to Moltz, if we want to serve customers better, today's easy access to Internet connectivity, mobile apps, social cloud and big data all enable us. With big data we can anticipate what a customer might want. With social media, we can respond to people, and they are more willing to talk to us if they are having a good or bad experience. With the web we can provide information 24/7 if we have a good knowledge base. If we want to put in the time and be organized, customer service gives us the opportunity to win over and retain customers.
Access to information through technology alone won't do it. Moltz stresses that you also need to have good customer service principles if you want to cultivate loyal customers.
Apps to the Rescue
Customers can download a mobile app for clothing shopping, upload a photo and their body specs, and virtually try on just about anything. If customers are still not sure, let a personal online shopping assistant steer them in the right direction.
Here is a rundown of some of the apps that facilitate good customer service:
Brandify monitors reputation
Nextiva unifies communication
Schedule Max makes appointments
Live Chat talks to customers
Sage One manages customer projects
"Click With Me Now: shares a customer's screen
Customer Service Builds Reputations
In a world without boundaries, every customer service move you take adds or subtracts from your reputation.
Nowadays, so much has become commoditized that there is competition for everything. If you show people amazing customer service and give them no reason to switch, they'll stay with you. So, excellent customer service is vital to a company's reputation and an important tool in your PR arsenal.
Sharing case studies and testimonials that demonstrate happy customers that benefited from your company's product or service is simply good PR.
Customer Service Manifesto:
According to Barry Moltz
1. We deliver on what we promise
2. If you are dissatisfied, we will listen
3. When things go wrong, you can reach us easily
4. We will resolve the issues in a reasonable time
5. We will admit when we make a mistake
6. We will empower our employees to solve your problems
We Love to Complain
Customers are 2 1/2 times more likely to talk negatively about you (than positively)
Customers that have a negative experience are twice as likely to talk about you
What Makes Customers Mad?
56% report having to re-explain an issue
62% report having to repeatedly contact the company to resolve an issue
- Harvard Business Review
Marketing Coach is a publication of Ivy Cohen Corporate Communications, Inc. ICCC helps companies build reputations and differentiate in a competitive market through brand building, public relations and strategic communications.
To find out how ICCC can help you and your company build your reputation