When you’re working on a tight budget, the quick solution is to cut back on spending and allocate funds for high-priority functions. You can’t just cut back on product development and digital marketing spending, and you can’t reduce salaries. So, what do you do?
During difficult times, some companies, unfortunately, look to save a couple of dollars from their customer service budget. But contrary to popular belief, customer service is just as important (if not more so) as other aspects of a business.
Customer service — your bridge to your market
Customer service involves taking care of customers’ needs through the provision and delivery of helpful, professional, and high-quality assistance before, during, and after their requirements are met.
Whether you’re selling a product or service, great customer service allows you to retain customers and get more value out of them. Excellent customer service helps you stand out from a sea of brands selling similar products.
By providing top-notch customer service consistently, you not only recover what you invest in marketing and make a profit but also build goodwill and gain loyal customers. Your happiest customers will provide referrals and make willing participants in case studies. They’ll also be quite happy to give testimonials and positive reviews.
Customer service during COVID-19 — a primary differentiator
During the height of the COVID-19 crisis, companies scrambled to stay visible and afloat. Some made it through the pandemic, some downsized, and others folded.
Hundreds of online businesses sprang up overnight, while brick-and-mortar companies rushed to make improvements on their websites and social media channels. Courier, pickup, and delivery services saved the day for most businesses, with the primary differentiator for success being customer service.
Companies not only had to prepare and post COVID-19 statements addressing their customers’ needs on their websites. They also had to provide stellar customer service so as not to lose more of their share of what seemed to be a steadily dwindling buying public.
Delivery service veterans led the way in terms of ensuring customer satisfaction before, during, and after product or service delivery. Newer enterprises followed suit and had to make creative use of social media to stay in touch with customers and keep them engaged — whether they already made a purchase or were waiting to make a buying decision.
The importance of customer reviews became magnified many times over, as consumers had to go digital and depend on other people’s opinions online so they can get the necessary push to buy a product or try a service. Of course, customer service remains at center stage, as digital word-of-mouth grew stronger and more influential.
Conventional advertising and marketing gimmicks no longer resonate with people who’ve become more careful with what they spend their money on. Digital marketing strategies had to consider customer needs more than ever and communicate the kind of care people expect from a certain brand, long after they’ve paid for a product or service.
Top brands with excellent customer service
The fact that customer service is the key to keeping customers and acquiring more is not lost on the following companies:
1. Trader Joe’s
Beloved brand Trader Joe’s is known for its high-quality, delicious food offerings that never fail to delight customers and for being an employer of choice.
They’re also famous for a certain story where a customer desperately called them in an attempt to find a supermarket that would deliver food supplies to her elderly father who got snowed in.
Trader Joe’s not only agreed to the unusual plea, but also suggested other items that perfectly complemented the father’s low-sodium diet without asking the customer to pay a single cent.
Costco is well known for its Kirkland brand, which offers excellent customer service aside from its liberal return policy. This is always a big deal for customers.
The Swedish multinational is world-famous not only for its innovative furniture and homeware but also for its unique approach to customer service. Going to an IKEA is an experience in and of itself, what with the children’s play centers, homey, casual cafes, and overall customer-friendly vibe.
Some tech companies are notoriously hard to reach, but inbound marketing software company HubSpot is reputable for providing exceptional customer service.
Not only is the company’s service team easy to reach, but the company also provides customers (and anyone interested) an in-depth, current knowledge base online. This helps their customers to quickly and easily find answers to common problems and troubleshooting concerns and also adds value to their experience. What’s more, HubSpot is very open and responsive to customer suggestions.
Proof that you don’t need to have a big company to provide stellar customer service, Wistia is constantly assessing its process to ensure it only provides customers top-notch support at all times. They have a small team, which keeps them in touch with what’s important.
Wistia famously adopted the use of personalized emails when they realized their phone service became an obstacle to their ability to help their customers efficiently.
Customer service is key to a brand’s staying power
In a world where the customer truly is king and where bad reviews can trend in a matter of minutes, customer service remains key to a brand’s ability to establish itself, grow, last, and stay profitable.
So, whether you’re operating during a crisis or in near-normal settings, always invest in customer service.