Marketing is about reputation. Creating one amongst those not yet aware of your business, and maintaining a positive one for those already familiar with you. Hands down, the number one thing a company can do to ensure a consistently good reputation is to provide exceptional customer service.
People remember their best and worst customer service experiences and are quick to talk about them to friends, colleagues, and sometimes a much larger internet audience. Companies can now be made and ruined according to their reputation in online forums.
Social media and online review sites have made what was always true much more so: customer service is crucial to good branding and marketing. While providing acceptable customer service will help you to avoid the PR disasters of bad online reviews and social media rants, if you want to really stand out from the competition and turn customer service into a form of marketing, you’ll have to resolve to go above and beyond.
One particular example of a company that’s gained a lot of positive attention based purely on their reputation for customer service is Zappo’s.
When it comes to buying shoes or clothes online, some may still be skeptical, concerned about finding the proper fit or paying for shipping. Zappo’s alleviates those concerns with free shipping on many orders and a free 365-day return policy for all items. In addition, many customers have publicly shared stories of Zappo’s going above and beyond to help them out, fueling one of the best word of mouth branding successes in recent business memory.
How did they achieve this success? For one thing, company CEO Tony Hsieh has acknowledged that the company made a decision early on to treat customer service as a top priority. They’re picky in hiring service positions, making sure not only that the candidate is qualified, but also a good fit for company culture. Perhaps most importantly, in contrast to many large companies, Zappo’s is willing to spend more on customer service to get better results, rather than seeing it as an area to cut costs. As a result, customers can get ahold of a competent, friendly representative anytime they need help, and the company inspires articles like this and this, without having to put money into marketing.
If your customer service is good enough, your customers will do the marketing for you.