Customer Service is the New Marketing

I know, I know. All of my recent posts (so I believe) were about my running and workouts and trying to keep my body in shape. I hardly wrote something about career perspectives or any career advice. Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa! Today I’ll make up for my omissions and share with you my ideas about customer service. Or rather, how Customer Service has deteriorated and that it deserves our attention and respect again!

While your marketing team is responsible for attracting new customers, other areas of your business are responsible for keeping them, especially customer service. In fact, the explosion of social media has made customer service team even more essential to keeping buyers happy.

Common sense makes certain truths about customer service apparent:

A good experience can increase customer loyalty
A bad experience can drive a customer away
Faster responses are viewed more favorably

However, recent studies have shown just how significant these impacts can be. Plus, bad customer service experiences are shared 95% of the time, versus 87% of good customer experiences. This makes customer service as important to your brand reputation as marketing.

It also means your customer service team needs to work in tandem with your marketing department. I try to keep my mind open and healthy as well as I do my physical workouts but it is a pain at times to keep all the noses in the same direction. Here are five ways to put them on the same page.

#1 – Have Dedicated Social Media Reps

Social media managers often work with marketing to produce fresh content and analyze click-through rates and other metrics. However, many marketing people don’t have the skills to respond to questions and complaints, and this can alienate new or potential customers.

Dedicate part of your customer service staff to social media queries. This serves two purposes. Not only do the unhappy customers get a swift response to their issues, but other customers see how prompt and knowledgeable your staff is, lifting their perception of your brand.

#2 – Use Reps to Upsell and Cross-sell

Some companies instruct their inbound sales teams to cross-sell products that complement the products in the cart or upsell products the customers might like. Extend these capabilities to all your customer service reps and turn them into profitable salespeople.

CRM platforms and other technology make the process easier, but don’t rely on automation alone. Train reps to recognize selling opportunities, or offer incentives to those who find ways to increase customer value. Any engagement with customers is another chance to make a sale.

#3 – Train Reps to Handle Anything

One of the biggest complaints you’ll hear about customer service reps is how often they transfer calls. Cut the aggravation, and make your team more efficient, by preparing reps to handle any situation that comes along.

If your business only deals with a few key issues, all your reps can get the same training. Companies dealing with a wide range of issues, however, would benefit from training teams to focus on specific issues such as technical support, account information or product questions.

Inadequate training can result in serious legal issues. As a precaution, and depending on your business, it may be practical to invest in a law firm (renowned for advertising and online policies) to help prepare and educate sales team managers in the “Dos and Don’ts” of information privacy with customers.

#4 – Implement Post-Purchase Surveys

Customers often stop buying from a business and never give any reason why. Businesses that don’t investigate will never know what they’re doing wrong unless they train their customer service teams to ask.

The easiest way to do this is to send an email after every purchase. Ask about the shopping experience, why they made the purchase, and what they might change about the process. You may uncover a problem, but at the very least you’ve shown customers that you care.

#5 – List Names and Numbers

As we communicate in more virtual, less personal ways, you need to do everything you can to avoid turning customer service into a nameless, faceless entity.

Requiring each rep to reach out with their names and contact information is a great way to do that. When a rep sends an email or responds to a social media post, make sure the message includes a name, phone number, and email. If the customer has to respond, he now knows who to contact and can avoid a time-consuming customer service call.

If your marketing team brings people in the door, your customer service team brings them back – but only if it’s doing its job correctly. Otherwise, you might get just a bit shy of crazy, don’t you think? To get more revenue and improve customer relationships, turn your reps into an effective marketing channel.