When businesses come to us, they all have different goals. Some to save time, some to save money, and many really looking to understand what is best for their business. Having worked with many local businesses, we have plenty of data of the different media and which media works best for different industries, all dependent on the amount of growth they are looking for.
Many are surprised at the level of questions we have regarding how they operate on a day-to-day basis. The surprise is more about understanding how day-to-day operations impact marketing and why an advertising agency would be interested in understanding how the business operates and importantly, the interaction of the company with their customer.
Marketing has many layers, including the right message to the right person at the right time. In addition to marketing to your target customer, how these new customers feel when interacting with your company is equally important. An obvious math equation is if we keep more of our existing customers to continue to do business with us, this means we need less new customers or the new customers we bring in, the greater the growth opportunity.
There may be many interactions with a customer from multiple people on your team. This interaction can make or break your business. The initial contact may be someone who answers the phone or someone who greets people when they come in. Additional contacts with different people come in to play including additional people involved with the experience. Each person having contact with your customers play a key role in marketing – and in two specific pieces – keeping existing customers coming back as future customers/visits and in these customers referring friends, family, or even leaving a positive review on the internet, helping people looking for your product or service seeing positive reviews online about your company.
The First Interaction
- This could be the first person they see when walking into a retail store. Do they recognize you when you come it with a greeting, welcoming you into the business?
- In a restaurant, is there someone greeting you when you first walk in – even if you don’t have an official greeter position, everyone on the team walking past a customer walking in can greet them, welcome them, make small talk, maybe even asking the customer if they need any specific help in finding something.
- This could be a person answering the phone in a service business. The greeting and the skill of this person in being able to answer the questions of the person calling, and as important, making sure to get them on the schedule – booking the call – is their main job.
The Second Interaction
- In some businesses, this may be the salesperson, in others this may be the cashier, and in others, it may be the person cutting the hair.
- In some businesses, this may be the service person coming out to the home, or the one working on your car. In both scenarios, this interaction is important in instilling confidence in the service.
The Last Impression
- This may be the cashier in some businesses. Do they make sure they have everything they need? This is a last chance to help people get things they may need to compliment their purchase or additional products they may have forgotten or could not find.
- In the service industry, when the serviceperson reviews the work done, are they explaining all the things they did and asking if the consumer has questions? Are they setting any follow up appointments or ensuring the customer has their contact information in case they have any questions? Are the explaining any guarantees which are a part of the work being done?
What is your companies processes in ensuring the product or service the customer received met or exceeded their expectation? This could be a phone call, it could be an email, or it could be a letter. All of these helps give a company feedback on how the company did – was the customer satisfied and to what level they were satisfied. All of these help the company know if they are on track in the performance of their product or service and in making sure what the company wants to happen is happening.
Steps of Service
Everyone who interacts with your customer needs to know their role in customer satisfaction. Any ‘to-dos” should be a part of the training process as every employee should be trained not just on their product or service, but on the “showmanship” of customer service. If anyone passing any customer is to greet every single customer they pass, make sure it happens and measure it. If the waitstaff is to offer dessert to every table, then train to an effective presentation on dessert offering and measure to this standard. If you have a phone greeting which is standard for everyone answering the phone, is everyone answering the phone doing it the same and with a sense or enthusiasm and a smile (yes – you can see a smile through the phone.)
Your People Are Your Best Marketing
Businesses invest in marketing to help their business attract new customers and retain existing customers. If your customer service is at a B-level, then you may have to spend more in marketing to bring in additional customers or achieve lower results – not because your marketing isn’t working, but what marketing is doing is getting sabotaged by your layer of service – the interactions you have with your existing or potential customers.
Online reviews should be reviewed daily, weekly, or monthly, depending on the amount which are received. Customer feedback is valuable information to help find opportunities in your business which can be improved, as well as to provide positive feedback to the people on your team. We know people do better when they are recognized for their work so promoting the positive will have a positive impact in your customer satisfaction, as well as employee morale.
The buck stops here. The best way to lead your team to excellent customer service is to talk about it, recognize it, reward it, and help your team be successful in achieving the customer service levels your company has created. Leading by example is important in setting this example as well. If the manager interacts with customers and their customer interaction isn’t an A+, then this may be an opportunity. Happy people (on your team,) will also promote the goodwill of your company and create ambassadors who will help promote your company and bring in additional customers through their efforts.
The better a business understands the correlation between great customer service and marketing the better their business will be. Your people are an important part of your marketing plan and this should be addressed in training, performance reviews, and recognition.
A case study in the numbers – A client we worked about two years ago was measuring a close ratio on the phone of 15%, when the industry average on close ratios is 50% with 70% being excellent. Service businesses cannot close everyone as their schedule may be booked tight, someone may be price shopping, or they are calling around and may not be ready to get service at this time – maybe wanting an estimate for their planning purposes. Close ratio is the number of new customers calling in for service who book appointments for service compared to the number of new customers called in for service (one would expect previous customers to book with a higher percentage so we usually leave out existing customers from this specific measurement – though it could be a measurement on its own.) With this math, the 15% compared to the average of 50% would mean this company had to either accept less results from their marketing or spend 3.33 times more on their marketing to achieve the same results as a company with a close ratio of 50% (this is 50 divided by 15 to equal 3.33 times.) The surprising thing was the owner did not know this and was surprised and not surprised at the same time. This business went on to improve this number to get above the 50% benchmark and this made a nice impact on their business, and their bottom line.