I’ve been participating in an interesting thread at a Small Business Forum about customer service and how important it is for a business. Much of the thread has focused on selling customer service as a value point, but I want to talk here about something I brought up later in the thread. Instead of actively promoting customer service what about simply practicing it. Practicing customer service is really the best way to market it as a selling point.
It’s hard to find a business nowadays that doesn’t claim to provide excellent service, but how many really do? You can claim all you want that you care about your customers, but unless you really do those claims are worthless. Marketing it as good won’t change the fact that the service is awful. And when your customers talk about it they going to tell others about their bad experience.
This afternoon one of my clients, or rather the wife of one of my clients called. Until today I’d only spoken to him. When the phone rang I didn’t know who it was, but my phone indicated the state where the call came from giving me an idea of who this unknown woman might be. She asked for me by the company name, but I immediately asked if she was who I thought she was and personalized what she might have been expecting would be a cold customer service call.
The call was about a simple problem logging into my billing system to get some information about prior invoices. I logged in while we chatted to make sure she had the right username and password and was able to provide the information as the invoices were recent and still in my memory. I could have easily ended the call at that point, but since she wanted to make a few changes to other information in the system, I offered to make the changes for her as I was already logged in.
While I made the changes it gave us a chance to talk a little more during which she asked a question about web statistics. Their hosting account comes with a stats package so I let her know how to login to it and walked her through what some of the statistics meant. I also helped her navigate through the general control panel for her account and explained how to set up email accounts for the domain.
In the end the call was just under a half hour. Did I need to spend a half hour on the phone to help solve the initial problem? No, it was solved in less than 5 minutes. Did I make a sale because of the call? No, there was no direct sale as a result of the call. Did I explicitly market quality customer service? No, I never once mentioned customer service. What I did do was maintain a good relationship with a client. A client who willl most likely mention my support when someone they know is looking for one of the services I offer. I gave a half hour of my time to help someone solve a problem.
For a half hour of time I believe I helped strengthen an already good relationship. Will it ever lead to more business for me? I have no way of knowing, but that’s not really the point. By treating all my customers similarly I don’t need to market my customer support. They’ll more than likely do it for me. And having one of my customers talk about the quality of the service I offer will always mean more than anything I can say about it. And it cost less than it would to rn a campaign talking about how great my customer service is or how much I care about my customers.
The best way to market your customer service is simple. Practice good customer service. Everyone claims they have it and most don’t come close to offering it. Most of us have become jaded to the claims. But if you truly practice the art of providing quality customer service your clients will stick with you and your customers will do your marketing for you. Existing clients cost less to market and sell to and loyal customers will do much of your marketing for you.