At one time, marketers could rely on print and television advertising to add that patina of magic to their product. Customers didn’t have many other venues for comparing brand image, so they were more likely to believe what companies said about themselves.
Times have changed. Now, we have Yelp, Facebook, YouTube and thousands of news sites to learn about a company. We are not so easily swayed.
“Customers are interested in marketing, but they don’t believe what your company says about itself unless it matches what they and their friends experience,” Micah Solomon, a professional keynote speaker and best-selling author, said in a recent Software Advicedebate.
One of the best ways to influence these conversations, he continued, is through customer service. E-commerce giant Zappos is one of the chief innovators behind this model. They focus almost all of their marketing budget on providing quality support. This ranges from measuring performance against a “happiness experience form,” to taking as much time on the phone as the customer needs – even if that means 10 hours. But does this kind of culture work for every businesse?
Solomon, along with three other expert speakers, discussed this question and others during the Google+ Hangout event called “Is Customer Service the New Marketing?” The other speakers included:
Shep Hyken, speaker, author and Shepard Presentations chief amazement officer
Jon Miller, co-founder and marketing vice president of Marketo
Denis Pombriant, CEO and cofounder of the Beagle Research Group.
Here’s a quick snapshot of their discussion.
Mirroring customer expectations with customer service. In the past, marketers could push the message that portrayed the brand they want to deliver. But those times have changed with the rise of customer reviews, social media and disenchantment with traditional advertising. Instead, companies need to reflect their customer’s expectations about the brand, whether that’s proving stellar service or something else such as low prices. “Customers are interested in marketing, but they don’t believe what your company says about itself unless it matches what they and their friends experience,” Solomon argued during the debate.
Implement customer-centric culture from the top down. In order to create a Zappos-level of customer service, the decision must first come from executives. Then it should be clearly articulated and reinforced with policy, resources and measurement. The group advocated using the Net Promoter Score to measure and track success, but argued against using time-to-resolution or call volumes. They said this metric encourages agents to rush customers off the phone, with or without really solving their problem.
Leverage marketing and service together. Several times during the debate, the speakers brought up the Morton’s Restaurant Group. The steakhouse chain has made service and quality central to its marketing strategy, rather than siloing the two in their own departments. Hyken gave an example about their marketers capitalizing on a brand advocate and blogger that had 100,000 Twitter followers. He tweeted that he really wished he had a steak delivered to him at an airport where he was waiting. Morton’s sent him a steak and he tweeted it to his trusting audience.
Watch the video here to hear the rest of the conversation. Chime in with your own thoughts by commenting here.