I’m truly annoyed by the fact that my marketing blog spends so much time on the issue of customer service. But the fact is poor customer service has an adverse affect on the marketing strategy, so it’s something that must be considered.
I’m beginning to think that inept customer service is the real reason why companies have problems with marketing. I could devise a brilliant marketing strategy, write some killer copy, and give their website an extreme makeover – but if I don’t help them address what happens after the sale is made then the result is a lot of one-time sales, no testimonials, and no referrals. Repeat business, testimonials, and referrals are major components of your successful marketing strategy. Screw up the customer service and the whole campaign suffers.
This is particularly true with online companies. Many people are already reluctant to do business over the Internet with someone that is unknown to them, and many of them are still reticent to give out credit card information over the net. So you have to go over and beyond the normal call of duty if you intend to do business online.
Be that as it may, the online companies are the absolute worse when it comes to customer service. One thing these companies know how to do right – the credit card process works like a charm! Beyond that it’s a crap shoot. Most of them hide behind a computer. If there’s a problem (and there usually is) getting in touch with someone is nearly impossible.
Case #1: Yesterday I purchased some software online that I had an immediate need for. The credit card was charged in two seconds. I got a confirmation email which was supposed to unlock my trial version. I got the email, but the message said there was an “error” in producing my code. Someone would contact me. Yet another example of failing to deliver what the customer has paid for. Had I been an e-commerce noob I might have panicked and called the credit card company to report a fraud or a scam. Instead I sent some nasty emails and about twelve hours later someone finally sent me the code I paid for. I had to have the software so I had to put up with this ineptitude. If it had been a discretionary purchase I would have said forget it, give me back my money.
Case #2 – This morning I sent an email to Yahoo customer service and got the following auto-response:
This is an automated message regarding your recent request for Yahoo! Postmaster Customer Care Support. We have received your message but due to a temporary problem we wanted to let you know it could take up to a week until you receive a response. We apologize for this inconvenience. Thank you for reaching out to us. We look forward to helping you!
Yahoo! Customer Care
**Please do not respond to this message as no one will receive it.
Why am I not surprised?
Bottom-line for you: you spend a tremendous amount of time, effort, energy, and money trying to get customers. Doesn’t it make sense to spend at least an equal amount of time, effort, energy, and money trying to keep them? It’s a lot easier to keep a customer than to get a customer, and it’s a lot more profitable.