When we think about marketing our companies, customer service is something that sometimes gets left out of the equation. That’s a mistake, because customers are what keep us in business. Everything we do should focus on meeting customer needs. And even if our initial contact with customers (or potential customers) is online, we should make that online experience as positive as possible. But what makes that happen? Is there more to good customer service than simply a happy smiling face?
A week or so ago, I was shopping at one of those establishments where members are greeted at the door and show their IDs. Because I showed up early, the place was almost empty. I grabbed my cart and headed down the aisle to pick up what I planned to purchase. Because it was so empty, one of the “associates” saw me pause in front of a shelf. This woman positioned herself in front of me and in a very pleasant and sincere way asked if she could help me find something.
I told her what I was looking for and that I hadn’t found it, yet. She very kindly told me that the store no longer carried that item. Then she corrected herself and said that perhaps the store did still carry that item but that it was out of stock. I thanked her and she moved off to other duties. When she did, I saw—directly behind where she had been standing—the exact item I had been searching for.
So, was this good customer service? The woman was pleasant. She engaged me (and even took the initiative). She offered to help me solve a problem. I genuinely appreciated her approach, but did she actually help me? No.
What’s the connection to marketing? Often our very first interaction with potential customers occurs on our website. People come into our virtual place of business, and they are usually looking for something. We need to give them more than a virtual smile and a warm welcome.
Look at your website. After the initial “welcome” is it easy for visitors to find what they’re looking for? Or are you standing in front of the very thing they want, blocking their view? Even if you have a great story and are friendly and welcoming, if you’re not helping visitors find what they want, you’re not delivering good customer service. You can tell them how you “put the customer first” all you want, but if you’re not helping them find what they want or need, they really won’t care about your pledges of service.
Sometimes it’s hard for us to evaluate our own sites. We know them too well. It’s obvious to us where people need to go to find helpful information—because we set them up. Visitors don’t always think the same way we do. Sometimes it’s helpful to have an impartial party evaluate our site and provide us with impartial feedback.
By all means, keep smiling and greeting your customers in a friendly engaging manner. Just make sure you’re not standing in front of whatever it is they’re trying to find.