10 proven ways to use your customer service for marketing
Service is the new marketing. — Derek Sivers, CD Baby
Sounds great, doesn't it? And yet, for many companies, service is... just service. Because when there just aren't enough hours in the day, it's hard to get creative and come up with new ways to delight your customers. Particularly when you don't even know if it'll be noticed and cherished in the way you intended.
So we've asked ethical companies and conscious consumers what works for them. Read on to find out how to add a bit of unexpected sparkle to your everyday interactions — and turn your customers into fans who'll do the advertising for you.
Physical tokens of customer love
- Send handwritten notes to your customers. For example, you could send a card on the anniversary of their first purchase. "Getting things in the post is nice as a customer, we hardly ever get post these days!" — Dana, Goodfayre
- If your handwriting isn't that beautiful, use stamps instead of handwritten notes. — Besma, curiouslyconscious.com
Add a thank-you note to each parcel or envelope. Kim at Studio Shim explains: "I've recently acquired the habit of writing lil' notes to my socially conscious consumers. Can't follow my passion without them!" The team at Wuka Wear agree: "Love reading the stories behind the business. A small leaflet in the box adds a great touch."
- Does your packaging live up to your brand's ethics? Can you add a little extra, such as a sample of a new product you sell? Dana adds: "I love it when I get an order that's well packaged, plastic free and with vegan chocolate thrown in for me too."
On the other hand, some customers are swamped with samples. We've seen a lot of downstairs loos that harboured stacks of unused anti-ageing creams, perfume sachets and mini lipsticks from the 1990s. If you're an eco brand, you'll want to prevent your extras from going off, or going to the bin: "Our customers can always include notes refusing extra products or samples." — Sattva Pure, sattvapure.com
Supreme support never goes out of stock
- How can you offer more value with a product — beyond what your competition already does? "We sell digital sewing patterns but teach skills and repairs too, so the customer gets more than the norm." — Alexandra, xandrajane.com
- Add value every time you're in touch with people. Besma adds: "Even if that means telling a customer to go to another supplier, I think that adds value."
Make your customer support as personal as possible. As part of Goodfayre, Dana runs a brick-and-mortar shop. "I take my time to get to know my regular customers and know at least 100 of them by name." — Purnaa Nepal sell textiles to customers around the world. They pin their success on the effort and care they put into email communication: "We have a dedicated sales team who personally answer every email." Likewise, Cambio Market place a high value on the human touch: "Creating personal customer service in writing is about making them feel like they're talking to a person, not a company or a bot."
Carefully craft your automated messages, such as welcome emails, order confirmations and payment receipts. If you use auto-responders when customers contact you for help, tell them clearly that your full response is yet to come — and when. Sian at Ethical Hour recommends: "I like it when automated messages acknowledge they are automated! Don't try and fake it." It's much easier to add a human touch to a quick acknowledgement email when you're going to send a personal reply to your customer later on.
We think Emily summarises it beautifully: "It's just bringing humanity and some effort to a process that can be quite sterile and impersonal." — Aerende
Check that your website is easy to understand. According to OECD, more than 25% of adults in England have low literacy or numeracy skills or both. Hence, it's important to use short sentences and avoid jargon. Mel heard this advice recently regarding messaging and copy on your website and it stuck: "Don't be cute — be clear." Sattva Pure agree: "Having the right info on your website can make things so much easier for the customer!"
Over to you
Whew! That was a lot of ideas. Now that you've got a jumping off point for turning your customer service into effective marketing, tell us…
Which idea are you excited to work on?
Has one of these strategies worked well for you in the past? And, what do you appreciate as a customer?