Why Customer Service is the New Marketing

There has been a lot of research coming through recently that points out what drives shopper behavior – it’s the experience they receive or lack of it! We know that customers are wanting a better experience, one that really stands out from the competition.

The result – your customers are highly likely to purchase and most importantly return. As we say “the rewarded customer, buys, multiplies and comes back.” And with today’s instant ability to post comments on social media, customer service is definitely the new marketing – get it right and it’s invaluable but get it wrong and you have big trouble.

As we say “the rewarded customer, buys, multiplies and comes back.” And with today’s instant ability to post comments on social media, customer service is definitely the new marketing – get it right and it’s invaluable but get it wrong and you have big trouble.

I was inspired to write this blog because of a recent news article with the headline “Why 200,000 customers thanked Clarks Shoes for its superior service.” A Clarks Shoes (UK) team member recognised the distress a mother was having with her autistic son, who struggles to cope with busy, noisy places when she was trying to buy him shoes. The team member took the initiative to take the mother and child to the staff room where it was quiet and placed a do not disturb sign on the door. He then organised for the child to try on and find the right pair of shoes in the peace and quiet. At the end, he also suggested that the mother books the next appointment before the store opens. WOW.

The mother posted a heart-warming message on Facebook, which resulted in 200,000 likes, 25,000 shares and 4,500 comments, many offering positive comments about other stores. Who wouldn’t love to have that amazing level of free media coverage?

A social media expert, Catriona Pollard, suggested, “You can’t buy that sort of brand recognition” and “These customer success stories are a great way of being able to share stories about your business through eyes of customers.” She also commented that “People are more likely to trust a story from real customers about the business rather than the business telling its own story.”

Pollard believes authentic customer experiences are one of the “most powerful things you can share on social media”, and believes businesses should encourage customers to share them.

My challenge to every retailer is what are you and your team doing to make authentic customer experiences? Unfortunately, I still see a lot of stores that can’t even get the basics right, such as acknowledging and greeting customers when they first walk in.

Here’re some questions that if you answer with yes, will get you past the basic level with your team:

  • What are your rules when your team serves customers? Are they clearly identified and do the team know why these are important from the customer’s point of view?
  • Do you as the manager or franchisee, set a high standard by leading by example?
  • Do you follow up to make sure your team is following the rules and providing exceptional service?

Once you have achieved the above consistently you can take your team to the next level by doing the following:

  • Empower your team to make decisions that focus on the customer – just like the example above.
  • Regularly discuss great customer service ideas with your team – how can the store provide an even better experience?
  • Ensure you are catching your team doing it right – look to praise them for taking initiative, going the extra mile, etc as this will encourage them to keep on doing this.

If you can achieve an outcome like Clarks Shoes, you have achieved a very powerful brand advocacy and that means customers will come back again and again. And that’s what retail is all about.


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Roger Simpson and the team at The Retail Solution have provided nearly 2 decades of unparalleled expertise in retail consulting for Australian businesses.
 
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