Customer service vs. marketing

Earlier this year, my cell phone was stolen. I found out minutes after it happened and immediately went to borrow a phone in order to call the phone company and have them block the SIM card. And I experienced the best customer service ever!

The customer service person quickly helped me through the “stolen phone”-steps and after that she said: “I can send you a new SIM card today, and you will most likely have it tomorrow. You can also visit one of our shops and get a new SIM card while you wait”. Since it was a company phone – with the only phone number for my company, I went with option 2. Within 2 hours, I had a new phone, a new SIM card and was sitting at my desk transferring data. In my opinion, that is the best customer service I have ever experienced. The service provider took care of everything and solved my problem in almost no time.

From that day on, I compare all customer service experiences to that one. That experience showed me that the company in question puts customer service come first – or at least it is way up there at the top of the list. Of course, other parts of the company also influence the level of customer satisfaction. But what is more influential – the marketing or the customer service? Let’s have a look at both sides of the issue.

 

Customer Service

According to a Forbes.com article titled Customer Service is the New Marketing, “90 percent of consumers trust peer reviews and 70 percent trust online reviews. Customer service is the last, true, medium that many consumers turn to when faced when inundated with choice, and confused by similar-sounding sales pitches.” Have you noticed when you shop online there is often a button for you to “Live Chat” with someone: Immediate customer service, right at your finger­tips, to answer a question and help you make an informed decision. It is these types of customer service enhancements that create a strong service brand that keep customers coming back for more.

What matters is loyalty and retention… advocacy and referrals… satisfaction and enthusiasm! By establishing best practices in Customer Service these issues are recognized, evaluated and made as a preeminent focus and investment for companies across the globe.

The Forbes.com article closes with a hopeful statement based on two online companies who actually hire their most enthusiastic customers to help with product inquiries, referrals, blogs, and more. For, “After all, who better to make authentic product recommendations and answer detailed product questions, than the customers already using them? No outsourced call center team can match the passion, product knowledge and helpfulness of your most ardent supporters.”

 

Marketing

Those are strong arguments, but what about marketing? Without marketing, there would be no brand presence, no special promotions and other incentivizing calls-to-action that push customers towards the purchase, no relationship establishment, no available information, no possibility for growth.

While word of mouth helps businesses get new customers, marketing campaigns such as emails, social media, websites, special offers and more, are also initiatives that influence growth in consumer acquisition. Marketing also establishes brand awareness. Putting your company name out there, through events and advertising, for instance, are the efforts that build trust and security for your customers which help them maintain loyalty and faith in your product.

Marketing is also a way for companies to influence when, how, and where to buy products. An effective, smart marketing campaign helps your customer remember your company name, the product, the benefits of that product, and the reason they should invest in it. Last but not least, your customers won’t be your customers unless you tell them about you, and your product. Who is going to be the one that does that? Marketing, of course!

 

Instead of being seen as separate entities, Marketing and Customer Service should be seen as complimentary. Marketing complements Customer Service by providing them with tools  to communicate with consumers outside of call-centers, emails and live chats. Customer Service complements Marketing by providing them with proper content for campaigns to reach their targeted audiences, helping them set customer expectations, and sending public relation messaging of satisfied customer testimonials.

In my experience, customer service is extremely powerful, and at the very least as important as marketing. Especially with consumers communicating on social media. Negative publicity can kill a brand!

 

Luckily lot’s of companies focus on great customer service. I found this funny little video about some second to none delivery guys where priority no. 1 is to get the package there in no time.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNioNhX_lAI

 

And by the way – I have not been hired by my cell phone provider 😉