I spent a few years as the Marketing Coordinator for a brick and mortar retailer in San Francisco that also had a very significant e-commerce website. When we would sit around and plan out new marketing strategies (both online and off) we often hit a wall…called customer service.
While most of the employees at our stores were wonderful, professional, and incredibly knowledgable individuals — not all of them had the outgoing, naturally helpful demeanor a great customer service rep needs to possess. We learned a lot of important lessons about how far we could go as marketers and how much we needed to rely on customer service to close the deal.
From a pure marketing perspective, you can spend thousands of dollars, create brilliant ads, and offer fantastic incentives, but if the customer service isn’t up to par, you’re not going to sell — at least no where near as well as you would otherwise.
With the influx of blogs, product reviews, and social networks targeting brand names in real-time, bad customer service experience won’t just affect a single customer and maybe a few of their friends or family members — it can be broadcast to thousands, picked up easily by someone with a similar complaint on Twitter and then all of a sudden there is a 5,000+ member Facebook group with torches and pitchforks banging at your door.
Bad news spreads even faster online than it did even a year ago.
The moral of the story?
Online marketing, great SEO copy, and a fabulous Web design are all huge parts of the equation, but the human element — the person that posts updates to your Twitter feed, creates funny or insightful blog posts, and the person who answers the questions and comments left by your website’s visitors is ultimately responsible for creating the voice and tone of your company. If they aren’t communicating well with your customers, your sales will suffer.
Just remember that customers drive more than sales when it comes to the success of a website. Use your words carefully, meaningfully, and never underestimate the power of a consumer scorned.
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