Customer service and marketing are usually seen as completely separate strategies, and for good reason. Customer service professionals don’t necessarily need to have any marketing training, and vice versa. In a certain perspective, their goals are distinct from one another; marketing is all about customer acquisition, or attracting new customers, while customer service is all about customer retention, or preserving the customers you have. But in another perspective, these efforts are two sides of the same coin, with significant overlap between them—and you can take advantage of that relationship.
How Customer Service Feeds Into Marketing
Customer service and marketing are mutually beneficial strategies, with a potentially reciprocal relationship. However, for the purposes of this article, we’ll be focusing on how customer service can be leveraged as a marketing strategy in its own right. Not only will this help you improve your customer retention and acquisition simultaneously, it will also spare you some dedicated marketing efforts, reducing your costs and improving your bottom line.
Examples of Customer Service as Marketing
There are several potential ways to leverage the power of customer service as a marketing channel:
Use customer reviews and testimonials as promotional material. One of the most powerful ways of showing off your customer service and improving the selling points of your brand, according to the Income Store, is to show off your customer reviews and testimonials in your promotional material. People trust peer reviews about as much as they’d trust personal recommendations from friends and family members, so as long as you give great customer service, you can reap the benefits of positive reviews here and then include them in your various onsite or offsite means of promotion. This will demonstrate your care for your customers and sell your brand on your behalf.
Create buzz with over-the-top customer service. You can also create some organic, possibly even viral buzz for your brand by delivering over-the-top customer service to one or more of your best customers. For example, if one of your customers had a bad experience at your restaurant, you can invite them back for a celebration with free food for all their friends. Such an experience will certainly make up for any bad taste in their mouth, and the customer and his/her friends will be likely to talk about the experience on social media, further increasing your reach. You don’t have to spend a lot of money here—you just have to create an unforgettable experience.
Showcase your means of customer service as benefits for working with your brand. If you have any unique forms of customer service, or if you have certain institutions and processes that make the customer service experience different from those of your competitors, highlight these functions as part of your marketing strategy. For example, do you have dedicated account representatives for each of your new clients? Explain that. Do you offer 24/7 support over the phone? Talk about it. Let people know what lengths you’re willing to go to for great customer service experiences. You’ll see far higher conversion rates as a result.
Tie customer service into your content marketing strategy. Finally, consider using a customer service-focused part of your website as an extension of your content marketing strategy. Ordinarily, content marketing is meant to provide information to people about your industry, or about the needs your company addresses. Customer service content goes a step further by helping people with problems they may encounter with your products and services, or how to use them most effectively. For software-as-a-service (SaaS) businesses, this is critical, but almost any business can create a helpful FAQ and help section with good content to drive higher search rankings and more inbound traffic.
These strategies aren’t the only ways to use your customer service in a marketing context, but they are some of the most practical—and the most powerful. Incorporate even one or two of these strategies into your ongoing customer service model, and you should have no trouble seeing a higher ROI from your marketing efforts (not to mention better customer retention in the meantime).