When you think about all the different marketing channels you have at your disposal, they’re really all working toward the same goals, though in different ways. Each one helps to spread the word about your brand — or at least about a specific product or service you provide. Each channel also helps create new ways to interact with your customers in an intimate and meaningful way. Most importantly, they all give you the opportunity to establish yourself as a trusted source of information in your industry and build a reputation as a place people can turn to in their time of need.
Though that description certainly applies to marketing channels like social media, direct mail print, TV and radio commercials, and more, it also describes one very important element of your business that people tend not to think of as marketing: customer service.
The Role of Customer Service in Marketing
When you set out to create a new marketing campaign, one of the first steps always involves sitting down and taking a long, hard look at what your customers need. This is most obvious in television campaigns, where you have just 30 seconds to outline a problem and show how your product or service solves that problem once and for all.
When you really think about the function of customer service in your business, it’s doing the exact same thing. You’re helping people have meaningful, satisfying experiences with your brand, while showing them that the products you’re selling are backed by trustworthy individuals with a strong sense of integrity.
In many ways, your behavior is the marketing tool in this scenario. If you can turn a bad experience with your product into a good one through sheer customer service force of will, you’re building the same type of relationship with your customer that a successful ad or direct mail campaign might. The benefit you get is the ability to control the conversation as it’s being played out.
In that respect, your customer service department is almost like a fully interactive television ad. If customers have a positive experience, they’ll tell people about it. If they have a negative experience, rest assured, they’ll tell people about that, too.
Customer Service Considerations
The point of this relationship isn’t that you should start treating your customer service department as just another in a long line of marketing opportunities that can be exploited. In fact, the opposite is true. Doing so will almost certainly come off to the customer as artificial and can do far more harm to your reputation than good. Overloading your potential and existing customers with overt marketing messages can also make your brand come off as "pushy" when people are just looking for answers to important questions.
Honesty and integrity are the name of the game, especially in terms of customer service. By using your customer service capabilities to truly put your best foot forward and create meaningful interactions with customers, you’re accomplishing many of the same goals you aim for with your other marketing channels. When people have a positive experience with representatives of your customer service team, they’re far more likely to tell their friends and family members. You’re also creating loyal followers that will generate repeat sales, which is another task that the best marketing campaigns are capable of accomplishing.