Customer Service as a Differentiator for Digital Marketing
February 28 2017
Your website is often the first impression a user has of your company, and its utility can affect your online lead generation. In this way, it’s also a form of your customer service. It often takes 2-4 site visits before a user considers moving forward with a quote or purchase, and during each of these visits your website needs to be valuable and user-friendly throughout a customer’s journey. This includes having thorough content, quick load times, accessible forms and contact information, images and a responsive design.
So, let’s say your website is almost perfect. Your digital marketing efforts, including Paid Search and SEO programs, bring in many qualified potential customers. Your content is useful, complete and addresses users’ needs. Your contact information is easy to locate and use on any device, and your page speed is fast. There are many factors that cause a user to abandon a site and a vendor, but your site’s experience meets all of Google’s guidelines and is optimized to bring in qualified leads. This is all great- but what experience are you giving once a user picks up the phone or submits a form?
A qualified lead doesn’t mean much if there’s no one on the other end to answer the call and close the sale. Once your website has done its job and a lead is received, how are you optimizing that customer’s experience? Of our clients surveyed, over 49% of companies never hold internal customer service training sessions.
Competition is tough – 59% of our clients surveyed said that they typically request a quote from 3-5 different vendors for one purchase. The RFQ submission takes you just one step closer to the sale; it’s by no means the end of the process. After a user has vetted your company as a potential vendor, it’s imperative to set that experience apart from your competition, just as you did with your website. In competitive markets, there are often few differentiators among brands, so fantastic customer service can become your company’s most valuable asset.
Think of a time when you have been frustrated by a vendor. Maybe they didn’t answer your email in a timely manner. Maybe they put you on hold for over 10 minutes. Maybe the representative came across as rude. Whatever the reason, that negative experience tarnished your view of that company. That first impression lasts. Reports say it takes more than 12 positive experiences to make up for one bad experience, and it’s likely that customer won’t give your company a second chance.
One of the simplest adjustments a company can make to its customer service is to respond quickly. 85% of customers surveyed expect a response from vendors within the same day of their inquiry. 19% expect a response within less than 2 hours! One day is all it takes to lose a potential customer if a competitor beats you to the response.
Simply answering the phone can be the difference between a sale and a lost opportunity. When directed to a vendor’s voicemail, 43% of customers hang up and abandon the call. Is this the first impression you want of your company’s customer service – inaccessible and too busy to answer a call?
What else can you do to improve your customer service? Start by holding regular internal customer service training. If you have call tracking on your sales calls, listen to those recordings and use them as tools to improve the sales process. Analyzing real-life examples as a team is a simple way to identify areas of improvement and strengths for everyone to emulate.
In the same way that you want your website to be useful, fast and informative, your customer service representatives should provide that kind of experience. Are they accurately answering all of the customer’s questions? If they don’t have the answer to a question, do they offer to find the answer and quickly follow up (and actually follow up)? Are they finding alternative options for the customer if you can’t meet their initial request?
No matter whether the call ends with a sale, the customer should always leave an interaction with your company on a positive note. With 79% of customers finding customers service “very important” when selecting a new supplier, it’s one of the easiest ways to set your company apart from the competition and maintain a great reputation.