By Linh PMP
In 2013, after 1.5 years working as a marketing staff, I decided to move to customer service department. My direct boss at that time advised me not to, because it might make my CV look weird with no focus. But to me it was a big decision of marketing focus and commitment that I have never regretted. I believed that customer relationship, not advertising, is the key part of marketing that makes the marketers understand more about the product, the service, the people that they are dealing with. I learn to treat customers as friends.
Hello from the other side…
Now listen to the customers. 57% US internet users learn about products from word of mouth such as fr
iends, family, colleagues, compared to 47% from search engine, 34% from print, 27% from online/offline advert. Well, they tend to choose the products that were recommended by the people in their network who are probably our current customers (see Emarketer table). And basically they use internet for social networking (67%, according to IAMAI). So it is the dream of every digital marketer to get their products/services featured by such social networking’s conversations, NOT to interrupt those social dialogues with adverts and buzzes. And we marketers will be finally only interrupters if not considered as friends in their network!
From branded content to cultural branding
I like the way Douglas Holt talks about this topic in the article Branding in the Age of Social media, please check it out. Now audiences get more choices, including the choice of eliminating ad-view, no matter it is from cable, or DVR, or internet, which makes it more difficult for brands to purchase fame slots. It’s time to build a theatre of “Hollywood-level creative at internet speed” (Douglas Holt’s word use) and present VIP tickets to customers, then further come the time to create a public studio for all customers to come and make their own Selflywood masterpiece. But in order to make such studio work, it is very important to take into account the cultural branding approach by observing, listening and targeting the crowd-culture, working on cultural flashpoints. It’s all about interaction, understanding and immersing into the customers’ world.
The Zappos effect
“Our business is based on repeat customers and word of mouth. There’s a lot of value in building up our brand name and what it stands for. We view the money that we spend on customer service as marketing money that improves our brand.” (Tony Hsieh)
Tony’s shoe-selling business earns billion dollar a year and does it largely without spending any money on traditional media. Instead,it invests in customers’ experience with free shipping -return, overnight shipping, a 365-day return policy, etc. Well, the 100 percent satisfaction guaranteed return policy is Zappos’ marketing policy. Other e-commerce sites may fuss about return. But it’s not the case in Zappos. It actually encourages users to order several products so that they can try, check and return what they don’t like. Its video on return policy is a very sweet customer talk and it speaks louder than any promotional clips of company values: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=193&v=lFe9nSlS894
Not surprisingly, its longest customer service phone call lasted 10.5 hours, because for Zappos, the long conversation means more dedication to customers. And Zappos really wants to wow the customers. You may probably receive review question from some service providers, asking “How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or family member?”. At Zappos, there are other open ended follow-up questions such as “If you had to name one thing that we could improve upon, what would that be?”,“Do you describe the service you received as good, bad or fantastic? What exactly stood out as being good or bad about this service?” Those open-ended questions stimulate the interaction to get more clues for improving Zappos’ customer experience.
In a nutshell, marketers, please spend time working in (not only WITH, but IN) customer service team and really interact with customers. Because ultimately “social interaction will absorb and marginalize traditional marketing” (Eric Greenberg/Alexander Kates).