This last article on feel-good marketing focuses on customer service: that part of the company that most advertisers and marketers seem to ignore. It is, admittedly, the hardest part of any business. The employees may not be well-paid or sufficiently trained to deal with customers. This is the front line of any business, and it merits a great deal of attention. Since your service people represent your company, it is imperative that they do a good job.
There are several ways to ensure this: good training, good pay, perks, benefits, a reliable support system from the company to back them up, and innovative ways to relieve the inevitable stress of dealing with customers all day. Allow them some latitude in dealing with the customers, something that they can provide (a benefit to the customer, monetary benefit, reimbursement of fees paid, etc.) to ensure that the customer walks away with a positive experience.
Above all, let them know when they have done a good job. Give them promotions, time off, or other perks at that time, let them know that their feedback is appreciated, and you take their view seriously.
As a consumer, and commentator on corporate culture, I make sure that the manager of a good customer service representative knows when they have done a good job. In this month, I have written two letters to the PR departments of companies extolling their employees. I am always curious as to whether they tell the employee about the letter.
The first letter was to Virgin Mobile (mentioned in the last article), and the response they sent me:
My name is Aliyah Marr. I am a new customer of Virgin Mobile, and just wrote in one of my blogs about my positive experience with VM and US customer service (phone number transfer) manager Ron.
I hope you can thank Ron and the others at VM who helped me transfer my number from a recalcitrant Cingular service. Please feel free to quote me; you may link to the article or use my name. I write several blogs; don’t be surprised if I do it again!
Thanks for your email!
We are so happy to receive such great feedback! We hear from customers often, but not all as you can imagine are as complimentary to Virgin Mobile or our super Advisors!
We will be happy to share your great news with those within Virgin Mobile! Thanks for taking your time to let us know we did a good job!
Best of all we are here 24/7 to help you out! Simply call us at 1-888-322-1122. We’ll be delighted to assist you.
Virgin Mobile At Your Service
The second letter I sent was to a storage company; the manager, RK, reported to me that they forwarded on the letter to him:
Subject: Queens Storage Manager Ram Khan
I just wanted to tell you that your manager RK … is the best! He is so helpful, efficient and kind. I have had a storage space with you since 2005, and every time I call I ask for R…, because he knows me by name, and has helped me from the beginning.
In an industry where customer service is often ignored, he steps to the plate and goes the extra mile. I can tell you that I might have gone elsewhere to store my stuff, if it hadn’t been for Ram. It is the people who make a business, and it is people like Ram who keep customers. Every business man knows that the best customer is the one you already have.
I write a blog on marketing and design; the last article talked about how good customer service gives the customer value, and allows him to feel good about doing business with your company.
Thanks again, and tell RK I called!
It is the customer service employee as representative of the company who is your company to the customer. Treat him/her well because it is these people who make or break your business.
When a customer has a positive experience with your company, they are likely to talk about it. Through viral marketing, your company is advertised for free. This article advertises the Extra Space Storage company and they haven’t spent a dime.
Now this company is smart; they are already using a form of viral marketing: they will knock off some money on a customer’s rate if one of their friends becomes a customer. OK, this might cost them a little in the beginning, but they haven’t laid out any money to get this advertising beyond the initial flyer they put in the bill’s envelope. Long-term, word of mouth is the cheapest form of marketing there is.
The point is that the whole key to viral marketing is the recommendation of one customer to another. Traditional advertising is a whole lot more expensive. One positive experience may translate to a lot more customers and more business, depending on the reach of that customer. So you leverage the positive experience of one customer to get more customers.
Viral marketing only works if the word out on the street about you is good, and that is the lesson: use feel good-marketing throughout your entire business process, from advertising to customer service. And don’t forget your employees.
(Mention this article and my name if you decide to store your stuff at any Extra Space Storage facility to kick back a rebate to me. This is also a good test of the power of viral marketing. Thanks!)
—- copyright 2007 Aliyah Marr