Why good service needs to be part of your content marketing matrix

when you make mistakes focus on service recoveryLast week I discovered that the contact form on my website wasn’t sending messages through to my inbox.

Argh!

I had missed about 20 messages, and of those, at least three were inquiries about high-end services. Imagine my dismay at learning I had missed out on three golden opportunities to put Content Marketing Cardiology into action!

After emailing everyone a simple “I’m sorry,” it was lovely to receive lots of understanding replies, but it was a great reminder that, as a business owner, you need to be on the ball when it comes to customer service. Otherwise it can end up another massive gap in your marketing system.

If I can guarantee you one thing in your entrepreneurial journey, it’s that you will make mistakes and sometimes technology will let you down in a big way (as was the case for me), but rather than viewing negative customer experiences as disasters, view them as opportunities for service recovery.

Research shows that businesses who mess up, and then offer great service recovery end up retaining more clients at the end of the day.*

Why?

Because, when you make an effort to recover service, you show you care!

And when you care, people talk about it!

Let me paint you a picture

It was the night before our wedding, and the valet at the hotel had locked the keys in our car. We had to take a huge party of bridesmaids, groomsmen etc out for dinner that night and there was no way we were going to make it on time. My husband-to-be was angry. Steam was coming out of his ears, and I could see that something had to be done, and quickly. So I asked the concierge, “how do you plan to make this right?” Turns out, they are golden words.

She said, “Well, I could get you a limo!”

So off we went to our rehearsal dinner in a stretch limousine. My 3-year-old niece was ecstatic (she’s now 19), and we had an amazing night with a memory that would last a life time.

Now, imagine if the hotel concierge had made us wait for our car, or worse, not bothered to fix the problem at all.

Imagine again, if that had happened now, with Twitter, and Facebook at our disposal!

Why service recovery is an essential element of your content marketing matrix

Social media means that businesses can no longer afford to separate customer service from marketing. Customer feedback is instantaneous, and if a client has a negative experience, they’ll spread the news faster than you can boot up your iMac. It is, therefore, imperative that you establish processes to ensure you respond to requests, questions, problems, set-backs and stuff-ups appropriately and in a timely manner. Content marketing is all about developing relationships with your prospective clients AND your current and past clients. If those relationships fall over due to poor service or inadequate service recovery, that is yet another gap in your marketing system that needs to be addressed.

Creating a responsive culture can enhance your reputation, profitability and, importantly, the longevity of your client relationships. A responsive culture is basically communicating with your stakeholders quickly and often and ensuring you meet your customer’s/employees needs to the best of your ability. Your goal should be to make the service experience a straightforward, pleasant and enjoyable one for your customers, even when unforeseen events and service failures occur.

Creating a responsive culture for your business from the outset will have a ripple effect on every person you come into contact with as your business grows and develops. It will also have an impact on your customers’ experiences and perhaps make the difference between whether a customer offers repeat business or not. Many businesses fail to see each customer’s spending potential in the long term. The fact is, your loyal customers and clients will spend thousands on your business if you can manage to continually meet their needs.

Service recovery considerations

Communication is key

Even if you can’t solve a problem right away, at the very least you can keep your customer or client informed of your progress (or lack of progress). Otherwise, with no information to go by, they’ll start making stuff up and then speculating on social media. That’s not what you want.

Focus on solving the customer’s problem, not on token giveaways

If you offer token responses, giveaways and the like, this won’t go down well with your unhappy customers. Focus on solving their problems. Give it all you’ve got and  make sure they know you’re committed to helping them.

Follow up with your customers

Don’t just send your customers a customer satisfaction survey. It’s great to get formal feedback, but if you know someone has had a less-than-satisfactory experience with you, phone them or email them personally to follow up and find out how they are doing.

Recognise that there are always people that will not be happy, no matter what you do

If you’ve attracted someone to your business who is not an ideal client, the chances of pleasing them, even when you’re doing all the right things, is low. So, sometimes you need to accept that you cannot please everyone. Make sure you have processes in place to deal with difficult clients and complaints and if the relationship is not working for you, sever it cleanly by offering their money back.

Do you have a service recovery plan? How do you handle customer complaints and problems? Have you ever experienced great service recovery after a bad service encounter? Share your comments below!

Source: Havaldar, Krishna K., Alexander, Jacob and Dash, Mihir, Basic Customer Service and its Impact on Customer Retention (September 27, 2011). 

  • http://www.facebook.com/karen.mcelroy.161 Karen McElroy

    interesting and thought provoking post Cas…it is something I have always tried to master, but new tools for effectiveness are a good idea. The issue with FB and Twitter kinds of smacks of the litigious society – where business may potentially do things just to cover their butts rather than coming from a generous and authentic place.
    Karen

    • http://www.casmccullough.com/ Cas McCullough

      I get what you’re saying Karen. And I guess that’s why, as small businesses, we need to set ourselves apart by actually caring, rather than pretending to care. Thanks for your comment!