Many marketing professionals believe customer service is an operational issue. They forget that customer service and service culture are marketing conversations. Because of this, they end up ignoring the daily discipline of delivering excellent service.
After all, marketers make the mistake of believing theur job is to bring customers to the company. Furthermore, they think customer service is important only after their marketing magic is done. Thus, many marketing professionals tend to focus on brand building, advertising and promotions instead.
To them, building a strong service culture is someone else’s job. They think that marketing focuses externally on prospects and customers, while culture is an internal matter. They mistake it as the responsibility of someone else, usually their colleagues in Human Resources.
This way of thinking is obsolete.
Modern marketing professionals understand the role of consistently excellent service.
And they understand that building a strong customer service culture is a marketing conversation first and foremost.
Here are five reasons why customer service and service culture are marketing conversations that are valuable for companies and brands:
1. A company’s brand is experienced at different points.
The appeal of a brand is vulnerable at multiple points of the customer journey.
- awareness to ultimate purchase
- online websits to multi-year warranty
- pre-sales information to post-sales support
- initial delivey to eventual recycling and consumption
Along this journey, your customer’s opinion of your company will be shaped in each moment of their experience. This could be over the counter, the phone, face-to-face, email, text, websites, and apps. These perception points are delivered by other members of your team, and the quality of service they provide has a direct impact on your customer’s opinion of your brand.
2. Customer advocacy can be more valuable than costly promotions.
Happy customers contribute enormously to the value of a brand. Why? Because positive word of mouth is more credible than paid advertising, and a lot more trusted. When things are going well, loyal customers will invite more customers to join the party by sharing, referring, linking, liking, and commenting in your favor. As a marketing professional, you want every team member to earn these links and likes.
Receiving a personal compliment makes someone on your team feel good. Receiving a company compliment makes everyone in your company feel good. The key to earning both is delivering service that makes your customers feel good.
3. Brand resilience is enhanced by loyal customers.
Negative word of mouth can be destructive. Poor reviews, low-star ratings, and thumbs-down clicks damage the effectiveness of your brand-building investments. Meanwhile, the best thing to counter negative comments are positive comments from other customers.
I recently booked hotel rooms near the university where our daughter will study next year. Since this is a small town, the hotel selection is limited. As I searched online, the hotels all looked alike with mostly 3-star and 4-star reviews. There were also a few 1-star reviews with negative comments from disappointed guests.
One hotel responded to a 1-star review with a sincere apology, specific actions to resolve the issue, and a heartfelt invitation from the manager to visit again. What impressed me even more were the many comments from other guests speaking highly about the hotel and the hotel manager. It was those supporting customer comments that tipped the balance and secured my hotel booking. Thus, a strong service culture is a marketing conversation because you aren’t telling people how good you are. Rather, your response to customers and their responses to your service could make or break your brand reputation.
4. A strong service team will solve service problems, respond quickly to customers, and do all possible to protect the credibility of your brand.
An uplifting service culture transforms difficulties into fuel that strengtgens a team’s commitment. Meawhile, in a weak service culture, customer complaints send team members scurrying for safety. Teammates point fingers at each other and doing everything they can to avoid blame.
When things go wrong, everybody notices, but when a team rallies to quickly set things right, then everybody can win. The customer wins with an effective service recovery, the company wins from a boost in staff morale, and your brand can win when positive coverage and comments follow.
5. Brand equity increases in a proactive service culture.
To us, providing service means taking action to create value for someone else. In a proactive service culture, colleagues frequently suggest improvement ideas to their colleagues. In a strong and proactive service culture, people throughout the organization create and recommend new offers of value to customers. This kind of engagement increases customer readiness to consider new purchases, builds longer term relationships, and creates a vibrant future together.
So, how are customer service and service culture marketing conversations?
Marketing creates the possibility of a brand, but marketing alone cannot build a brand reputation.
To win and keep in winning, you need customer service and a strong service culture, especially in competitive markets. If you are a marketing professional, don’t fall prey to mistaken assumptions. Be an advocate for service in every conversation. Become a leader in the development of your service culture. Your brand, your company, and your customers are all counting on you.