Customer service and branding

Customer service and BrandingDid you know the predominant branding efforts of most businesses rest solely on making some cool graphics or a corporate logo and then working to spread that image around to increase recognition.

What many people fail to realize is that branding goes a lot deeper psychologically in a customer’s mind than just what your business looks like.

You see, everything about your business adds to – or detracts from – your branding model. This includes the products you sell, the services you offer, the image you present, your communications, and most especially, your level of customer service.

Customer service is often completely overlooked as a branding tactic, yet it can easily be one of the more powerful influences in the decision making process for many customers.

Think about whether you’ve ever known someone who will happily stay with a telephone company or Internet provider that charges more in fees or interest simply because they prefer the level of customer service they receive. This is pure positive branding at work.

Customer Service for New Customers

It’s fine to write a simple line on your website that guarantees that new customers will receive the best in customer service from your business. This lets them know you’re willing to help them out if they need it.

You may also want to offer various contact methods for them, so they’ll be able to contact you via email, Skype, MSN messenger, Facebook, or even by phone if they wish. Making it obvious that you’re willing to be contacted goes a long way with some customers.

Just keep in mind that many people will check what existing customers have to say first before they simply trust the claims you have on your website.

Customer Service for Existing Customers

The people who have already trusted your business enough to purchase from you are your business’s most important asset. These are the people who have experienced the purchase process. They’ve seen the product or service first hand. They’ve dealt with your customer service policies.

These are also the people in a prime position to sing your company’s praises and refer to business to you. Yet if they’re unhappy, they’re just as likely to spread complaints to everyone they know.

When you receive a complaint or a negative comment, address it at once. Maintain a professional tone and always keep in mind that the customer is always right. Work hard to see things from their perspective and then see if you can find a way to resolve that issue to their satisfaction.

If the fault was yours, be prepared to apologize and then find a way to make amends for the error. However, if the customer had some unrealistic expectations of what they were supposed to be receiving, you may need to find a way to compromise so the client ends up happy overall with the solution you offer.

Mitigating Negative Comments

Here’s the really tricky part: when customers are happy with your business, they’re likely to tell you. Unfortunately, when they’re unhappy about something, they’ll tell everyone else. With the rise of social networking, they now have the ability to tell the rest of the world, too.

There are plenty of ways to view your customers’ perception of your business remotely. There are tools around that can help you track where and when your business or your products are mentioned. These include SocialMention or even HowSociable, but plain old Google Alerts can achieve a similar result too.

If you do find a negative or overly critical comment posted about your business, it’s vitally important to remain professional. Your goal here is to find a way to address the customer’s problem and reach a solution that works well for both of you. Doing this shows that customer you’re willing to do the right thing.

However, your responses will also show prospective customers that you’re serious about your customer service efforts. This lets them see you’re working towards finding a resolution and that your business isn’t just out to grab a few bucks from people. These public perceptions of your customer service policies and your business brand can go a long way towards building trust.

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