Marketing campaigns filled with flashy ads and clever catchphrases no longer have the same effect on consumers as before.
Instead, buying decisions are being influenced by experiences. Where a consumer chooses to spend their money now depends on their experience with a brand – along with the experiences of their friends, family and many, many others online.
And at the center of this experience is customer service. In fact, 96% of people say customer service plays a role in their choice of and loyalty to a brand.
This means…any customer issue you resolve… any product help you provide… any interaction that ends with “you answered all my questions” …is marketing.
Great customer service is not only essential for keeping your existing customers, it is also a way to bring in new ones. By integrating customer service with your marketing strategy, you can take different approaches to promoting your brand and acquiring new customers.
Here’s how you can use customer service for marketing:
Build your social media brand
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said, “If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell six friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.”
It goes without saying, negative social media mentions can quickly spread into an irreparable image. Once a bad experience is posted and shared, it can’t be unseen.
But instead of focusing your customer service efforts on damage control, use it to optimize your social media presence.
Start by tracking mentions. Services like Google Alerts, Mention and Awario will notify you anytime your brand is mentioned online, instead of only receiving notifications when your are directly tagged. Track these mentions, and follow up as you would with any other customer service inquiry.
Not only does this provide good customer service to existing customers, it also shows potential customers that you are accessible and responsive.
On top of that, great customer service can take your social media brand beyond a generic Facebook page. Applying customer service elements to your social media pages can create an engaging, informative experience for customers.
Some examples of how to do this are:
- Personalize any responses
- Interact with positive mentions by retweeting or reposting
- Provide answers or links to frequent product/service questions
- Keep customers up to date with any service interruptions or new updates
Fill your page with answers to questions, resolutions to issues, and most importantly, shout outs from happy customers.
Turn customers into promoters
77% of customers would recommend a brand to a friend after having a single positive experience. This means any positive customer service experience is an opportunity for satisfied customers to promote your brand.
One way customers can help promote your brand is through reviews. If you aren’t already actively seeking out reviews, it’s time to start.
Reviews provide your brand with credibility, boost your reputation and play a critical factor in persuading customers to buy your product or service. Would you rather buy from a company who has dozens of reviews and high ratings, or from a company with no reviews or low ratings? It’s a no-brainer.
This can also help with SEO efforts and link building.
Customer service is a great way to ask for reviews. Your team can ask while wrapping up conversations in a chat box or in a follow-up email. Links for reviews should be readily available, easy to access, and of course given to the customer when they are in an optimistic mood about their experience.
Here is a sample of how to ask for a review:
“Hi (Customer), Thanks for choosing (Company Name). We’d love if you took a moment of your time to leave a review. You can use this link (link your review website profile) here. Thank you for taking the time to share your experience with us and our community.”
The best practices for crafting this message include:
- Personalizing the message with the customer’s name
- Keeping it short and directly to the point
- Striking a sincere tone, thanking them for their time
- Using a direct link to the review site
The sites used for leaving reviews will depend on the industry. Popular sites include:
- Google (any business)
- Facebook (any business)
- TrustPilot (any business)
- Amazon Reviews (E-commerce)
- Capterra (SaaS)
- G2 Crowd (SaaS)
Testimonials are another way to use a customer’s voice for promotion and can work wonders for conversion rates.
Similar to reviews, customer testimonials gives validity and instills trust in your brand. It’s also a way to make your product or services relatable, as potential customers can explicitly see how others have benefitted.
Testimonials will come from loyal customers who you work with frequently, and on a more in-depth level. This is where customer service comes in. With frequent contact with customers, they will be able to identify any good candidates for a testimonial and can reach out to them with this request.
Highlight customer testimonials on your homepage and in marketing campaigns. Here are some questions that can help guide customers in telling about their experience:
- What problem(s) made you start looking for a solution?
- Why did you choose our solution above others?
- What results have you seen with our solution so far?
- How has our product/service benefitted your business?
- What stands out most about our product/service?
- What do you hope to achieve with our product moving forward?
To further credibility, use the customer’s photo and logo alongside. If possible, try to feature more well-known, recognizable brands.
Affiliate marketing program
As we said before, great customer service gets customers talking. Turn these happy customers into brand advocates with an affiliate marketing program.
Affiliate marketing encourages individuals (affiliates) to promote your brand in exchange for a commission; this usually happens when people end up buying a product or signing up for a service.
As an affiliate, customers will actively promote and market your brand through referral links. Affiliates place these links on their websites, blogs and social media pages, referring traffic and potential customers to your site.
The best part? You’ll only pay affiliates for traffic actually converts, whether that be clicks, sign-ups or purchases. This pay-for-performance model makes affiliate marketing a low-risk investment.
Unlike traditional marketing methods, potential customers won’t feel like they are being sold to. Instead, these customers-turned-affiliates will provide a credible reference, sharing why they chose to spend money on your business and why others should too.
Create content from customer service takeaways
Customer service is your direct link to your customers – offering you insight for how customers are using your product, what issues they have and where you can help.
With this information, you can begin building a content marketing strategy. Using your customer service and marketing teams, you can collaboratively brainstorm and create content to optimize the overall customer experience.
Start with having customer service compile a list of common questions and issues. From this list, you can create resources such as:
Then, apply these resources to the customer experience. Use content to:
- Draw customers in from sharing thought-provoking blogs on social media
- Answer all the questions that may be holding back a potential customer with an FAQ
- Provide examples for how other customers have used your product with case studies
- Simplify your product or service through video
- Demonstrate your position as an industry leader and ensure confidence with informative articles
Creating customer content is an on-going tasks for both customer service and marketing. But, if well-executed, this content will generate interest to acquire new customers and support customer service by providing self-service information.
More and more, the roles of customer service and marketing are overlapping.
Great customer service supports the customer experience. And the customer experience is how you reach potential customers. Integrating customer service with your marketing strategy gives you a new set of tools for acquiring customers and growing your business.