Before buying anything these days, customers are able to find out all kinds of things about your products and your company- with a simple Google search. For many, the first place they may look is a review site- Amazon for general merchandise, B & H Photo and Video for photography gear, or user forums- either run by your company or by your fans.
There are also review sites that are independent, offering testing and evaluation of your product that will tell you more about your product than you probably ever want to know. In photography- you can go to:
I own and ride a BMW motorcycle. Invariably, I find lots of good information about outfitting, repairing, or general knowledge about my bike on the BMW forums- which aren’t run by BMW-
Where you can find information from people “just like you” who have the same questions.
All those searches, all those clicks, all those links- which could help the BMW brand grow its brand reach, are on sites where BMW doesn’t have any control.
You know the old adage, a happy customer tells a few people, an unhappy customer tells everyone? Well, it’s your job as the Chief Marketing Officer of your company to make a decision- do I spend more money on ads talking about how great we are, or do I spend that money making sure our existing customers are super happy and only telling a few?
Even though we’re in the business of making ads- we’re going to tell you that great customer service stories out perform any ad. Making ads about customer service stories only resonate if every customer gets that kind of level of satisfaction when they have a complaint/problem/issue with your product.
Some businesses have distinguished themselves with outstanding customer service. Zappo’s is one example. They focus on creating “Wow” experiences. Don’t believe me- google it: zappos customer service stories. But don’t think they were the first to come up with this, Tom Peters wrote “The Pursuit of Wow!” back in 1994.
We’ve run into clients who don’t want to run a forum on their site to respond to customer issues. “We don’t have time for that” is what they say, yet, when they get call after call about the same issue- they may put up a lame-o FAQ or write a blog post, but only after the 10th call.
Forums are easier to manage than ever, as well as running great help desk type software. The difference between the two is who is answering the questions- on a forum, your fans and customers can work with other customers, while a help desk means you will be running it. We strongly believe that the investment in a well moderated forum is as critical as any large ad campaign. Customers will find out about your arcane policy on battery replacement, or that your manual has a problem on page 37 a lot faster than your staff will.
Smart companies don’t implement “social listening” without having a well supported customer service department to work through the problems. We often find the people involved in social monitoring to be more responsive than those in traditional “customer service” positions. The social media amplification factor of dissatisfaction is and can be deadly. Dell Computer learned this early on in the age of the web when Jeff Jarvis blogged about his customer service nightmare- which he called “Dell Hell” and it blew up online.
Here’s some advertising advice- go Google your products, and problems, and see where you end up? If it’s not on your own site that you manage, get to work. If you need help, you can call us.