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Customer service is the new marketing

3 min read

Digital Technology

Barry Moltz is serious about customer service. So much so, in fact, that his nightmares center on bad customer service scenarios, he told attendees of the GrowSmartBiz Conference this month. Moltz says he even owns a button that says, “Just give me good customer service and nobody gets hurt.”

That’s serious.

Businesses of all sizes that are serious about surviving and thriving need to listen to Moltz’s assertion that customer service is the new marketing. In other words, the best way to promote your business and attract new customers is through providing exceptional customer service, not through traditional marketing techniques.

The reason, he explained, is fourfold:

  1. The recession has made people think more about how they’re spending their money.
  2. Technology — namely social media — is changing the way consumers interact with brands and companies.
  3. People expect a new level of personalization in the service they receive. Moltz calls this “faux personalization” — think about the way so many online retail sites greet you with your first name each time you come back.
  4. Advertising, which was king back in the day, now is unable to control the conversation about a company and its products.

Your customers and your competitors are online and watching what people all over the Internet say about your company, explained Moltz. Current and prospective customers are using that information to decide whether they want to keep doing business with you. The competition is watching for you to mess up so they can seize the opportunity to do better.

That’s why you need to be online and ready to provide good customer service there — outside of your store and off of the phone.

Your customers aren’t as likely to tell you they’re unhappy with the service you provided as they are to get online and tell the world. That may seem scary, but it’s better than the alternative, which could be them never doing business with you again and telling all of their offline friends they should do the same. When that happens, you don’t hear about it and can’t do anything about it. Online, you have the opportunity to respond well, keep the customer and convince other people they want to do business with you.

That’s why Moltz assures people not to get too down on themselves when they make customer service mistakes — they’re inevitable because you’re human. The secret is to admit you’ve made a mistake and not try to ignore it away, then tackle it head-on and resolve it well.

Image credit: f4f, via iStockPhoto