If you look up at the header image on my website you’ll see that I describe what I offer as “Social Media & Marketing Solutions,” and yes, in reality, that is the largest portion of what I do. But that is evolving. Sorta.
You see, I believe that it is a big mistake for businesses to look at social media, and approach it merely as a marketing tool. That sets them up for failure. Social media is not just another place for your marketing and advertising messages.
As my business model has evolved, I’ve come to understand that social media is more about customer service than anything else. Earlier this week I wrote about how CVS had some major issues to deal with over the weekend, and while they continued to post marketing messages on their Facebook page, they failed miserably in the area of customer service. People remember that. If you don’t provide decent (if not excellent) customer service, it might not matter how great your products are.
Just this week my friend Adam Toporek launched a new website, Customers That Stick. Adam and I know each other from running around online in the same blogging circles, and even though we haven’t had a lot of interaction, I really respect what he is trying to do in shining a light on the importance of customer service. He understands that our online experience, particularly with social media, is not about finding little tricks to give you an edge. It’s not about trying to out-gimmick your competitors, or trying to game the search engines. It comes down to the reality of being genuine and treating your customers well. Incredibly well.
That’s why when Adam approached me about offering my thoughts on customer service for his post “What is Customer Service?”, my response was this:
Customer service is…everything.
You can read my full response over on his blog, but here’s a bit behind my thinking on this, and what I try to communicate to my clients on a daily basis. This thinking isn’t original to me, but it’s at the core of my business model. It follows a path like this:
1. The number one reason new customers come to you is usually word of mouth or referral.
2. This means someone told them about your business. That someone is an existing customer.
3. That existing customer said nice things about you to the new customer.
4. The nice things were said because the existing customer was pleased with your product/value/service.
In other words, it wasn’t your marketing and advertising efforts that brought in the new customer. It was the fact that you made an existing customer happy; happy enough that they told others about you.
Pretty simple, eh? Even if it was the quality of your product that made them happy, that is a form of customer service. You are serving the customer by creating and producing great products.
In his book, Flip the Funnel, Joseph Jaffe has a meaty chapter called “Customer Service as a Strategic Driver” that I believe should be required reading for any business. In fact, I require it as part of the reading packet for my college students. In that chapter he offers several “new rules” for customer service, in a world of social media. This isn’t the complete list, but here are a few that I think are very important:
- Customer service doesn’t stop at 5 p.m. on Friday
- Customer service is not only about solving problems
- Customer service lives in the now
- Customer service can be a revenue generator
- Customer service lives in the public domain
- Customer service is an ongoing commitment
- Customer service can be proactive and anticipatory
- Customer service is live
Many of these are things that CVS didn’t consider, particularly the first one, as they failed to act properly over the weekend.
This is why I get excited about social media, and why I’m excited about Adam’s new blog. I think he’s really on to something, and I encourage you to head over and check out his site. Perhaps it’s time to start thinking more about customer service and less about marketing.
What are your thoughts? How important is customer service to you as a consumer? Do you place the same importance on it in your business?
- When Social Media Collides With Plumbers’ Customer Service (soulati.com)
- Weekend Video: Customer (Dis)Service (inklingmedia.net)
- Small Business Tip Tuesday: Social Media is Not About Marketing (inklingmedia.net)
- Social Media Conversation. Yes, but at what cost? (businessesgrow.com)
- A Crisis of Social Media Crises: Don’t Be Stupid (inklingmedia.net)