Today, mass media and integrated campaigns are yielding less and less long-term sustainable business success for marketers.

We’ve entered an age of business where customers demand proof of what businesses’ claim, so it is becoming less relevant to tell people and more relevant to show them. This customer attitude has given way to the power of word-of-mouth marketing that has existed long before mass media campaigns and still remains one of the most relevant ways to earn new customers and repeat business.

Regardless whether you are in a B2B or B2C business, you’re in the business of serving a customer.

Regardless whether you are in a B2B or B2C business, you’re in the business of serving a customer. In today’s marketplaces, modern customers have different expectations of how they should be treated by brands. When a brand gets it wrong, even just once, it has the potential shift preference and loyalty for their products and services drastically. A recent study by NewVoiceMedia surveyed 2000 American’s about their customer service experiences. The results were that 49% of these customers reported to switching brands as a result of a poor customer service experience, and 69% reported switching more than once. This is a staggering reality that has resulted in 62B in lost opportunities due to poor service experiences.

Unfortunately, increasing amounts of management teams have a growing disconnect with their customers because they are often spending too much time and effort working in their business then on their business – I get it, everyone has a report to send up the chain, a sales bogey to chase, or a challenging organizational structure & culture. The problem is that we’re not operating with integrity – the culture within the four walls of our HQ doesn’t align with the culture we enable at service touch points and most importantly, is dramatically disconnected from our your customers expect.

A Cultural Paradigm Shift

The organizational challenges that manifest as poor customer service experiences are not easy to overcome, and require an honest look at how an organization is structured and run, but most importantly how all employees are empowered to advocate on behalf of the customer. Here are three things to consider if you want to champion your customer:

  1. Customer service creates moments of truth.
    The most powerful moments of truth are a result of a product or customer experience, due to their ability to shape loyalty and invoke advocacy. Customers can build brand perceptions and ideas based on research or advertising, but the most impactful and lasting moments are experiential. Great experiences are delivered by great employees inside a customer service culture.
  2. Happy employees yield happy customers.
    If your employees are satisfied, your customers will be satisfied. If your customers are dissatisfied, then your employees will be dissatisfied. It’s as simple as that; the correlation is directly proportional. Businesses have much to gain from serving their employees. Investing in customers, means investing in employees.
  3. Emotional labor is challenging and draining.
    Emotional labor requires employees to read emotions accurately and posture correctly to shift the emotional focus of the parties involved. While these baseline skills can be a natural gift of many emotionally intelligent people, it is important to invest in the proper training required to ensure all employees share a similar level of emotional intelligence and the competence required to maintain high job performance and avoid emotional dissonance. If performance is required, then supports need to be provided.

Shifting your Thinking around Customer Service

To start leveraging customer service in a meaningful way you need to understand that you cannot treat it as only a function of operations any longer. The best way to do this, is with the resources and expertise that you manage the department with:

  1. Start thinking of customer service as a marketing function and budget for it accordingly.
  2. Leverage experience designers to revise your customer service protocol across all channels and ensure that they are aligned with your brand platform.
  3. Ensure your entire organization has a deep understanding of your customer, how they behave, what they expect, and empathy for their challenges.
  4. Customer service training is focused around participative engagement. It is a process with stages and variable paths. Operators need to know how to navigate the complexities of it.
  5. Make sure your customer service operators understand the value of their interactions and how to leverage them for the most impact.
  6. Any communication that is a two-way engagement needs to be treated as customer service, this includes social media, email marketing, website, telephone calls, etc.

Customer service has always been a core part of marketing and is only recently getting its time in the spotlight, as marketers are beginning to understand the impact of word-of-mouth on their businesses.

If you’re interested in learning more about customer service check out these great podcasts or reach out to me personally.

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