Embracing a Customer-Centric Strategy as a Form of Marketing
Guest Post from Software Advice
Is customer service the new marketing? This question isn’t just about the increasing importance of social media and customer reviews, or rising consumer disenchantment with traditional marketing. For some, it’s about making the decision between long-term reputation and short-term profit.
This topic was at the center of a recent Google+ Debate that I moderated, hosted by research firm Software Advice. A panel of experts discussed what kinds of companies should embrace a customer-centric strategy as a form of marketing, and how they go about implementing this approach.
The speakers included:
- Micah Solomon, a top keynote speaker, thought leader, bestselling author and consultant. His work has been featured on NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, Forbes, FastCompany, Inc. Magazine, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, and The Washington Post, among others.
- Shep Hyken is a customer experience expert, keynote speaker, author and chief amazement officer of Shepard Presentations. He is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author and has been inducted into the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame for lifetime achievement in the public speaking industry.
- Denis Pombriant is CEO and cofounder of the Beagle Research Group. He is a recognized thought leader, speaker and author.
- Jon Miller is the marketing vice president and cofounder of marketing automation vendor Marketo. He earned his bachelor’s degree in physics from Harvard College and has an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Here’s a quick snapshot of their discussion.
The group first emphasized the importance of mirroring your customers’ expectations, rather than trying to dictate your brand to them. Customers won’t believe what you say about yourself unless it matches what their social networks also say about you. This can be amazing customer service, or it can be price, selection, or something else.
Next, they talked about breaking the bounds of marketing and customer service departments. Instead of feeling like you have to choose one or the other, leverage them together. Retweet an interesting customer service interaction on Twitter. Or get service agents to collaborate on buyer persona development. Be creative.
For companies that do want to implement a Zappos-level of customer service, you need to start at the top. Make the decision to put the customer at the center of your business, then reinforce the idea with processes, resources and measurement.
Finally, the group said the most important thing marketers need to consider is that the buyer is in control of their buying process. You can’t decide what information they will go after, or when, so you still need to make your company as attractive as possible. Customer service is just a piece of that puzzle.
Stephen Pace says
Great video, it’s great to see customer care getting the airtime it has always deserved, however there are still a huge number of companies who class customer care as a much lower priority than other activities.
Greg Coleman says
I agree Stephen. More companies should place a priority on delivering exceptional customer service as a means to differentiate themselves and ensure customer loyalty and retention.
“Customers won’t believe what you say about yourself unless it matches what their social networks also say about you.”
A great point! Customers have certain expectations for your brand that you may or may no have created. What are those expectations and are you living up to them?
Thanks Ashley for sharing that video. I’m curious, if customer service is the new marketing – is it right to say that we will see customer service crowdsourced via peer-to-peer networks and soon, it will kill outsourced customer service? I think, they call it ‘unsourcing’. Let’s say a customer is having an issue or dispute, that person can immediately seek help from other users with the same problem and get easy access to this shared knowledge. At least, it saves time having to wait for someone to pick up the phone when you dialed that 1-800 number and lets you connect with someone local — w/c can save businesses from operating contact centers as well. It’s a win-win scenrario..