By Evan Carmichael on September 15th, 2009
(Photo Credit: djwerdna) One of the most important initiatives that I’ve been championing within my business is customer service. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my trip to Seattle and the outstanding service that I received at a little shop called Piroshky Bakery (Let Your Customer Service Be Your Marketing Department).
Most businesses live off the 80-20 rule where 80% of their revenue come from 20% of their customers. If you can keep your customers happy and provide them with service that makes them say “wow” you’re going to keep them as paying clients for life.
I also believe that your customer service department can be your marketing department. If you’re like most entrepreneurs then you are the customer service department, marketing department as well as being the president, vice president of sales, and janitor!
“If you want to generate more referrals then you need to give people a reason to talk about you… the key is to deliver outstanding customer service.”
If you’re wearing all of these hats the question comes down to how do you best spend your time on all the various tasks that need to get done?Referral marketing has long been one of the most profitable ways to generate money for a business. Think about it – referred customers complain less, ask fewer questions, are more qualified, buy more, and are generally happier than people you find you and want to price out your services to compare you to your competition.
If you want to generate more referrals then you need to give people a reason to talk about you and while having a great product helps, the key is to deliver outstanding customer service.
People these days don’t expect good customer service so if you can provide it you’ll really stand out and get people talking – just like I did about the Piroshky Bakery.
Providing outstanding customer service not only leads to more profitable clients, it’s a lot more fun than cold calling for new business!
Referrals, Referrals, Referrals
To help give you ideas on how to improve your customer service I’ve created a new section in this blog that I’ll keep up to date as I discover new techniques.
Here’s my first tip: Check the out of office messages when you send an email to your clients.
“Instead of giving up and being frustrated that you’re not able to reach your client, see if you can use the out of office message as an opportunity to stand out and connect.”
How many times have you sent an email or a newsletter out only to have an email come back a few seconds later to tell you that your client isn’t in the office? Usually those messages are pretty generic – something like “I’ll be out of the office until Thursday. Please contact Amy at (555) 555-5555 if you have any urgent questions.”
Instead of giving up and being frustrated that you’re not able to reach your client, see if you can use the out of office message as an opportunity to stand out and connect.
It works best when they leave more personalized out of office messages.
Here’s an example from Zappos, a company making waves with it’s outstanding customer service:
Wendy’s Very Cool Outstanding Zappos Customer Experience Story
Wendy is a Zappos customer who set her out of office message to:
“Thanks for your e-mail. I am currently hitting the pavement in Denver, walking 60 miles in three days to put an end to breast cancer. I’ll respond to your e-mail when I’m back.”
“I mean seriously. I can’t get over it. I have friends, family and colleagues that didn’t even acknowledge my participation in the Breast Cancer 3-Day, and I get a card from Zappos.com”
Zappos.com had sent her an email and discovered the message. When Wendy returned home she received a simple card from Zappos which read:
While working through emails from our amazing customers, I came across your auto reply. Normally we mark them as auto replies, but yours caught my eye. I just wanted to let you know what an admirable thing you are doing! We at Zappos are proud to have you as a customer, and as part of our family.
Thank you for being a wonderful person.
Ashlee – customer relations rep at Zappos
(With a big “THANK YOU” on the top)
Not only has Zappos won Wendy as a customer for life, Wendy went on to tell all her friends about it and even write a blog post on it where she commented:
“I mean seriously. I can’t get over it. I have friends, family and colleagues that didn’t even acknowledge my participation in the Breast Cancer 3-Day, and I get a card from Zappos.com.
Zappos – you SERIOUSLY rock. I am in marketing/customer service shock. And if any of you have heard my recent complaints about Master Tailor and Urban Active, you know I was starting to lose faith in customer service. I love that I can now gloat about a company that has gone above and beyond. I’ve made one purchase from Zappos.com. One. And this is what I get. Unfreaking believable. Now I don’t have to feel guilty buying shoes, ’cause I’m gonna go hog wild at Zappos.com.”
So the next time you get an out of office message from a client, see if there is a way you can use it to stand out and make yourself memorable. For under $5 you can send a card to a customer and in the process earn their business for life as well as a collection of new referrals!
Talk about return on investment!
Do you have any outstanding customer service experiences or tips to share? Please comment below – I would love to hear from you!
Tags: bakery, business referrals, cold calling, customer service, customer service department, good customer service, hats, initiatives, janitor, marketing department, Money, new business, outstanding customer service, outstanding service, photo credit, Piroshky, Piroshky Bakery, president vice, providing outstanding customer service, referral marketing, Seattle, vice president, Zappos