How much thought do you put into your company's customer service? Every single employee is a representative of your company. Each employee-customer interaction reflects the company's brand and reputation. Customer service is actually a part of inbound marketing, and an extremely important part at that. When companies start to recognize customer service as marketing, it allows them to build their brand and improve the overall customer experience.
Inbound Marketing: Delight Stage
Customer service is a part of an often overlooked, but nevertheless crucial, stage of inbound marketing: delight. Inbound marketing doesn't stop at the close of your sale. Great companies go beyond the purchase and focus on the experience, continuing to nurture the relationship so that the customer shares their positive experience with others. The delight stages help with future sales, up-selling, and building your brand's reputation. Amazon built its brand around customer service, making "customer obsession" their first leadership principle.
Customer Service as Marketing
Customer service takes on many forms, from online interactions like live chats, social media, and email, to phone calls and in-person conversations. Every one of these interactions is a part of the customer experience and can be negative or positive. It's an opportunity to delight customers. Each employee behind this interaction represents the company, from the sales team and marketing department to the tech support specialists. HubSpot found companies that prioritized customer service had growing revenue because happy customers organically grow your business by sharing their positive experiences with others.
What Makes Great Customer Service?
"89% of companies now expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience," according to Gartner Research. When it comes to customer loyalty, a company's brand and reputation are more important than ever before. Customers want to be treated like individuals, not a number or dollar signs, and interact with other humans. Customer service team members must be empathetic, putting themselves in the customer's shoes, and really listen to them and care about the situation. Friendliness and being personable are also essential skills, which is why customers want to interact with a human, not a robot. The goal is to make customers feel valued, respected, and heard.
Important Customer Service Techniques
- Active Listening: Active listening means giving someone your undivided attention with the goal of understanding and fully processing what they're saying. Often, in conversations, we passively listen to someone when we deem them or the conversation unimportant. We’re hearing what they say, but not retaining the information. Here’s an easy trick: listen, then summarize, then repeat the information back to the customer to clarify and show that you're listening.
- Mirroring: Mirroring someone's tone, energy, and language can help you connect with them better. Mirroring also applies to body language, which often comes subconsciously. If the person you are talking to crosses their arms, uses their hands to talk, or cocks their head, we naturally do the same. Mirroring helps to show a customer that you're with them, and you're "in it together." Mirroring does not apply to angry customers when a customer is upset, though - in those cases, it's important to stay calm.
- Personalization: Customer service should be human. Customers want to see personalities and real people. While templates and pre-written text can be necessary for company policies and to maintain regularity, allowing customer service to personalize their responses and answers is important (and can make employees happier and more invested).
Every interaction an employee has with a customer, whether through chat, in person, or over the phone, affects how the customer views the brand. The customer experience can be negative or positive. The customer experience doesn't end with the purchase; it's important to follow through and delight customers post-purchase to increase loyalty and boost the likelihood that they'll share their positive experience with others. Customer service is marketing and a valuable opportunity to create happy customers who keep coming back and hopefully share their love through social media and word of mouth. For help with marketing in every form, contact the experts at Ironmark, and see how well our customer service team can serve you.