Is Customer Service the New Marketing?
There’s no lack of marketing channels available today. Whether a brand is looking to reach customers online or through more traditional methods, there are plenty of options to choose from. In fact, it seems like every week there’s a new channel being touted as the next big thing.
And while keeping up to speed with these developments is a wise choice, it’s important not to let them completely overshadow tried-and-true methods of acquiring and retaining customers. One of these is customer service. Excellent customer service is a necessity for every business, regardless of industry or business model.
And though it may not be a marketing channel in the traditional sense, it can play a significant role in whether potential customers choose to purchase from or work with your business.
How Does Customer Service Play a Role in Marketing?
Some marketers focus their efforts solely on acquiring new customers. That’s a mistake — both from a growth standpoint and from a financial one. Growth is a top goal for many businesses, but it’s impossible to achieve steady growth if you’re struggling to keep the customers you already have.
Plus, when you consider that it costs 6-7x more to attract a new customer than it does to retain an existing one, focusing on retention could help you achieve the same size customer base at a much lower cost. It simply doesn’t make sense not to prioritize converting your customers into loyal buyers.
And customer service plays a major role in this process. According to a survey from Temkin Group, 86% of customers who rate a company’s customer service as “excellent” will repurchase from that company.
That number drops to 13% for customers who have a “very poor” experience. That’s less than one-sixth of the repeat purchases generated by excellent service. It’s also worth noting that 77% of consumers who have an excellent customer service interaction say they’re likely to recommend the brand to others, while only 7% of those who have a poor experience will.
From an acquisition standpoint, this is huge. If your service is currently lacking, stepping it up could make a serious difference in how willing your customers are to spread the word about your company.
And considering that those recommendations have the potential to translate into sales, it’s clear that customer service can have a significant impact on your ability to reach your marketing goals.
4 Ways to Make Customer Service Part of Your Marketing Strategy
If you haven’t yet integrated your approaches to customer service and marketing, there’s no better time to start than now. But adapting your strategy means more than merely offering great customer service. With that in mind, here are 4 tips to help you get started.
1. Use Support as an Acquisition Channel
Many businesses believe that their support team’s sole purpose is to answer questions and address concerns from current customers and clients. And to be clear, these are important functions that aid in customer satisfaction and retention. But you can also take things a step further by utilizing support as an acquisition channel.
For example, e-commerce platform Kajabi offers live chat support for all of their site visitors. While current customers can log in and ask questions specific to their accounts, prospective customers see the following default message after clicking the live chat icon.
If they’re interested in learning more, they can instantly message the company’s support team with any questions. This gives the brand the opportunity to speak directly with a lead and provide a more tailored explanation of their product.
It also has the potential to turn a standard site visit into a conversation — and increases the chances that each visitor finds the information they need to take the next step in the company’s sales funnel.
2. Make it Easy for Customers to Get in Touch
Even the best service strategy can only be effective if your team has the opportunity to help current and prospective customers. And while you may think it’s entirely your customers’ responsibility to initiate conversation, it’s essential to make that process as easy as possible.
After all, the more convenient it is for customers to contact you, the more likely they’ll be to get in touch when they have a question or problem. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to make your contact page easily accessible from every other page on your site.
If you have the resources available, it’s also in your best interest to offer multiple support channels. At the very minimum, email and phone support are widely considered standard — but your options don’t end there.
For example, take a look at Nordstrom’s customer service page.
The company offers phone, live chat, and email support, with separate channels for specific departments, like designer specialists, wedding stylists, and personal stylists.
And while offering this many options may not be feasible (or even necessary) for smaller businesses, it’s a prime example of the type of support today’s consumers have come to expect — making it all the more important to provide your customers with a seamless experience.
3. Highlight Your Customer Service as a Benefit
Top-notch customer service could be exactly what it takes to turn a customer into a loyal brand supporter. But you don’t need to wait for them to run into an issue to see that value. Today’s consumers know that customer service can make or break their experience with a company, so highlighting what sets your approach apart can be a major selling point.
Does your company offer 24/7 support? Do you guarantee a response within a specific amount of time? Does your customer support team have an exceptionally high CSAT score? These are all indicators of excellent customer service and can be precisely what you need to differentiate your brand from your competitors — making them potentially valuable additions to your marketing campaigns.
For example, hosting company Bluehost offers 24/7 support, which features prominently in their marketing campaigns. In fact, it appears twice on their homepage alone.
This is likely a compelling selling point to prospective customers who are concerned about server problems, downtime, maintenance, and other technical issues.
So if there’s anything that sets your service and supports apart from your competitors’, make sure prospective customers know that from the start — and it just might be the factor that tips the scale in your favor.
4. Use Customer Reviews as Marketing Materials
Telling your audience about the excellent level of service you provide is a great start. Letting them hear about that service from other customers is even better. Of course, featuring testimonials and reviews isn’t a revolutionary marketing strategy. In fact, there’s a good chance you’ve already incorporated them on your own site.
Still, if you want to illustrate the value of your customer service, few are more compelling than letting prospective customers hear from people who’ve experienced it firsthand. And your approach doesn’t need to be complicated to be effective.
Grubhub, for example, includes tweets from customers on their homepage.
Each one includes the user’s real Twitter handle, so there’s no question as to their authenticity. And if you’re looking for a straightforward way to incorporate your customer service into your marketing strategy, this could be the easiest approach.
First, start by asking your customers for honest feedback. If it’s positive, ask for permission to share it. And if not, view it as constructive criticism you can use to improve your customer service — and, as a result, your ability to acquire and maintain customers.