The Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 166, has designated the first week in October, as “National Customer Service Week” since 1992.
When George Bush Sr. signed that document 20 years ago, no one could have known the impact customer service has on business today – and the complex choices of channels customers, and service agents, have to connect with one another.
Customer Service is emerging as the differentiator for consumers when choosing what to buy – not product ratings, attributes or benefits. A 2011 study by Forrester Research confirms the correlation between customer service and loyalty across 12 industries.
The 2011 Forrester report “Competitive Strategy In The Age Of The Customer,” asserts that “previous sources of dominance –manufacturing, distribution, even information mastery — are now just table stakes. Companies must be more than customer focused, they must be customer obsessed.“
Want proof? A case study posted by McKinsey looked at how customers did research and shopping in the tech sector (actually very analogous to wine where consumers do research online then go to retail to purchase.) The client agreed to a pilot launch in a single market. Funds were shifted from paid media (online, print, and TV) to social media and digital customer support. (It should be noted the McKinsey team helped implement process and infrastructure improvements to speed up production of consistent high quality Social Media content and launch a digital-marketing academy to teach employees how to use Social Media channels.) So what happened? The product in the pilot launch became the top-selling model in the market, and store inventories sold out. The client quickly committed to expanding the program based on projections of more than $300 million in incremental sales from using the new approach globally.
Customer Service is an every week, actually every day, effort. Below are some strategies to help.
The basics never go out of style. With all of the cool technology and social media trends, don’t forget the basics of great customer service. You still have to hire right, train right, manage right and always work at creating a customer-focused culture.
The social megaphone has further elevated the importance of service to most businesses, with younger demographics, in particular, increasingly going social to bash brands when they have bad experiences. Cutting corners in service is no longer an option.
Keep up the training, the monitoring, the benchmarks and the “secret shoppers”. And, not just when convenient. A very busy and smart winery right on 29 has hired me to “shop” their tasting room during this stressful time of harvest – what a better way to see if they’re providing top-notch customer service than to look at their staff under pressure?
At the most basic level, use social media to be reactive to customer comments, especially complaints. Monitor Twitter, Facebook, and any other social media channels your customers use to hear what they are saying about your winery. Interact with them, and if there is a complaint, jump hoops to take care of it.
And, when there is that customer complaint on Yelp, start a conversation that tells the customer and anyone listening what you plan to do about it. You can turn a potential nightmare into an opportunity.
Also, use social media channels to push out value added content from your business. This can be in the form of tips and suggestions on how to best enjoy or pair your wine. You can become a great resource to your customers.
A great example of taking constructive feedback via Social channels and turning it around to your benefit. 2 stars to 4 stars, and an opportunity to identify and retrain an employee.
A great example of taking constructive feedback via Social channels and turning it around to your benefit.
Video is one of the most engaging platforms available to us. In what other way can you better connect with customers across the country? Your videos can be informational and value added for your customers. In addition, you can post testimonials from customers, and they in turn can submit videos to you to post that show different ways they are enjoying your wine. You can also put technical specs and tasting notes on video.
Know, however, that a single 7 minutes video won’t create a dialog. Post multiple :90 second videos, perhaps one per month, or even one per week. And be sure to create descriptions that optimize the search results.
So celebrate National Customer Service week. What are you doing to promote it within your organization?
42 Percent of Consumers Complaining in Social Media Expect 60 Minute Response Time (convinceandconvert.com)
Are 87 Percent of Small Businesses Using Social Media Wrong?(smallbiztrends.com)
4 Social Media Evaluation Metrics More Important than Likes(customerthink.com)