Tuesday, July 15, 2014

How Customer Service Can Help or Hurt Your Marketing Efforts

Customer service just might be one of the most neglected, yet important aspects of growing a business. According to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, it's 6 to 7 times more costly to find a new customer than it is to retain an old one. When you consider that an estimated 89 percent of customers have stopped doing business with someone because they experienced poor customer service, it's clear that customer service can have an enormous effect on your company's bottom line.

Unfortunately, a shocking number of organizations are content to allow their customer service systems to remain unchecked, while devoting far more time and energy to finding new customers. As a business owner or leader, here's what you should know about your customer service and how it affects your marketing campaigns.

The importance of quality customer service

Just about everyone has dealt with frustrating customer service at one time or another. Most of us have experienced the annoyance of being passed from representative to representative in an effort to find an answer to our questions. Often, by the time we hang up the phone, we're so frustrated that it taints the rest of our experience with that company.

Studies show that customers who have had a negative experience are two times more likely to tell others about their experience than those who are satisfied. What's more, for every negative experience a customer walks away with, you'll need to provide about 12 good ones just to make up for the damage to the company reputation and potential profits. From a purely economic standpoint, it makes little sense not to take the time to develop good customer relations.

Quality customer service and marketing

When you set out to market your company, you're interested in building a reputation for your organization. That's what branding is all about. But the best branding in the world can come unraveled by a poor customer service experience. This is especially true for smaller organizations trying to build their clientele. Reputation is crucial to success, and a poor reputation can easily spread like wildfire. When that happens, all your efforts to earn the trust and goodwill of potential customers will be hurt and will require considerable time and effort to recover.

How to develop quality customer service

The most important part of developing a quality customer service experience is to encourage customer feedback. Customers will be able to tell you if they struggled to find the information they needed, if the representatives they spoke with were actually helpful, and if there were particular points in the process that stood out to them as being poorly handled. Focus on revising the key areas of the customer service experience that seem to matter most to customers. It will be nearly impossible to revise the entire customer experience at once, so focus on improving key areas and then work from there. Open communication with the customer is always key.

If you're interested in growing your company, don't overlook the help, or hindrance, customer service can provide. If your organization is seen positively, you'll find your branding efforts complemented by your reputation. However, if you're seen negatively, those negative experiences can derail your marketing. Taking the time to develop a strong customer service experience is an investment that will pay off in more ways than one.

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