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 😉

 

Can marketers help change the tone of voice in society?

In my opinion, the tone of voice between people – both grown-ups and kids – has become harsher in recent years. This is why I really like a campaign launched by the cell phone provider Call me. The basic message of the campaign is “Talk properly”. I recently had the opportunity to hear about the campaign at an event arranged by IAA Denmark (International Advertising Association), where Anthony Lim, Sales- and marketing director at Call me, presented the campaign.

The campaign came to life after Call me had done market research that showed that 77% of Danes thought that the tone between people had become more harsh. Call me and a small agency worked together to use this commercially – and what started as a campaign ended up being a movement! Call me had people contacting their sales department asking if Call me was the “Talk properly”-company and when getting the reply, they said “Great, I want to sign on”. Other results speak for themselves:
Net growth of customer base: 175%
Improvement of loyalty: 24%
Preference improved 260%
Number of Facebook fans rose by 500%
Doubled the number of customer referrals.

I personally love the campaign – not just the message but also the way it was executed with the commercials for TV, campaign-site, and happenings at schools where the campaign was used for educational purposes. So yes, I do believe that marketers can help change the tone of voice in society.
You can watch one of the commercials here:

It is in Danish, but the message is so clear that I am sure non-Danish speaking people will get it right away.

Enjoy!

Turning Ordinary into Extraordinary

I recently stumbled upon a book called “The Starbucks Experience – 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary into Extraordinary” by Joseph A. Michelli. Since I am a great Starbucks fan (who unfortunately lives in a country where there’s only Starbucks at the Copenhagen Airport!), I of course had to read a book about what makes Starbucks so special! Because it is special! Read on and find out how they made it special.

I have visited quite a few Starbucks stores – and every time I have been a happy customer. I get what I expect – and always a little more. I order a tall latte or a coffee Frappuchino, and it always tastes just right. The partners behind the counter (all employees in Starbucks stores are called partners – that I like!!!) are friendly, polite, and they smile. And I can always count on it.

How did the Starbucks leaders do it, you might ask. How did they succeed in incorporating this culture in more than 15,000 stores in 50 countries? (Statistics found at http://www.starbucks.com/about-us/our-heritage). They did it by ensuring that 5 simple principles became a lifestyle for all employees.

The 5 principles are:

  1. Make It Your Own
  2. Everything Matters
  3. Surprise and Delight
  4. Embrace Resistance
  5. Leave Your Mark

Actually quite simple principles. And they can be incorporated in any business or life situation and make you a success.

The book describes these principles/leadership strategies that have made Starbucks a well-known and popular company worldwide. There are so many great stories – many of them very touching – about how you can make great business by caring for people and surrounding communities. ¬In my opinion, it’s a must-read!

A couple of years ago, I actually came to the conclusion that Dunkin Donuts’ coffee (latte at least) tasted better than Starbucks’ coffee. But I still keep coming back to Starbucks. Why? Because I love the way a visit to Starbucks makes me feel. Howard Schultz, Chairman and CEO of Starbucks, once stated: We are not in the coffee business serving people, but in the people business serving coffee”. That is why the visits to Starbucks makes me feel good.

For a trip down memory lane in Starbucks history, visit: http://www.starbucks.com/about-us/our-heritage

All the best,

Camilla

Should you be marketing your product or your social purpose?

Do you have trouble seeing why you should be using social media marketing? If so, maybe you are marketing a product that just isn’t very engaging. Social media marketing might still be a good solution for you.

Last week, I participated in an IAA workshop on Social Media Marketing with speaker Mike Moran. There were many great tips for people working with social media marketing, but especially one point took my interest and that was deciding whether to market your product or your “social purpose” on social media.

The reason why this is interesting is that not all products will get you a lot of engagement in social media. If you look at brands such as Coca Cola, M&Ms and the like, social media – e.g. a Facebook Page – gives you great opportunity to entertain your fans and to communicate with your customers, thereby strengthening your brand. But if you sell e.g. insulation material, that might not be very engaging. I’m not saying it can’t be, but it probably won’t. In that case, what you ought to do is to market your social purpose – in the insulation case it could be a fanpage about saving energy. Instead of talking about insulation material, you can engage people in saving energy – which could be by getting new insulation in their houses.

What I’m saying is that in many cases, it can be easier and more rewarding to get people to engage in your purpose rather than your product. So, think about it before you start your social media campaign!

By the way, if you don’t engage with your customers the right way from the start, you might end up with (best case) bored fans or (worst case) people who have a negative attitude towards your company and product.

MadMen

It has been too long since I last posted a blog, so today is the day for the new blog post! And even though the gray sky outside is not exactly great inspiration, the topic I want to share came to me quickly: I finally got around to watching MadMen! So far, I have only watched the first 6 episodes of season 1 – and I wonder why I waited so long to start watching it. The story and the way this era in (marketing) history is portrayed is just amazing. And what is interesting from a marketing perspective is that so many marketing issues seem to be exactly the same, today.

I have always been interested history – and especially in the history of marketing. I have two huge Taschen books with ads from the 50’s and 60’s and I just love to look at the ads and “read about the times between the lines”. So MadMen is, of course, the perfect show for me! I think it is very interesting to watch the show and compare the way marketing and advertising was discussed then, to the way it is discussed in 2012. Have things changed? Of course they have. But it is still amazing how many basic marketing principles are exactly the same – even though society, products, people and the way we communicate have changed so much. You still have to build marketing strategies using the same principles as before, but in my opinion, developing strategies is harder in 2012 than it was in the 60’s – among other things because segmentation has gotten harder and there is so much “noise” in the information stream that hits people every day. Much of the office dialogue in MadMen could take place in an ad agency today, but of course the execution of the strategies is very different. Apart from that, I am also sure employees in advertising don’t drink and smoke as much anymore! 

I can’t wait to start up the DVD player again tonight and follow Mr. Draper and rest of the MadMen (and -women!). If you are interested in marketing and marketing history and haven’t watched MadMen, I highly recommend that you do.