Customer Service Is the New Marketing

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by: Matt Rhodes

We wrote last month about the Zappos story, about how they have used customer service to extend and enhance the customer experience and how this has had a positive impact on sales, satisfaction and growth. This example highlights the power of customer service – of listening to and then rewarding customers.

Image by LiminalMike via Flickr

We know the real benefit that a brand can experience from engaging with its customer directly through online communities. Both in terms of the insights and ideas you can get from them, and also the way you can amplify word-of-mouth and build loyalty with them by listening to what they say and responding.

But even more than that. Customer service – listening to customers and having a direct dialogue with them – is a form of marketing. And an effective form of marketing at that.

This week’s Required Reading at FreshNetworks is a presentation Lane Becker from Get Satisfaction, delivered at Next09 that looks at exactly this issue. For Becker, customer service is marketing, and for brands who get this right, it is characterised in three ways:

  1. You put conversations at the centre of your business – focus on exchange of ideas and information, in your business and with your customers
  2. You get better at a smaller range of things – you can’t solve everything so you focus on the things that make a real difference to customers (which you identify by having a real dialogue with them)
  3. You break down silos – customers don’t see a business the way many businesses are structured, so when they want to interact with you silos can get in the way

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