Customer Service is a key!

25th October, 2012

When times are hard, it is not always easy to be involved in the marketing of a company, whether in-house or as an outsourced agency; marketing costs are the first to be slashed when companies are looking to save money, and marketing people are the first to be blamed when the sales slow-down.  There is not a lot that I can say about slashing costs – generally, when someone tells me that this is their strategy, I try to tell them that this is a dangerous course as marketing is probably the only thing that will bring them the sales that they need – but I also know that if it was my money, and it was running out, I would probably be slashing the costs too!

I do, however, object when I hear that the reason why a company is not making its sales targets is down to its marketing strategy or marketing people – of course in some cases this is true, but in some that I have seen first-hand, it is a little bit different; in no small part because the marketing will only get people to the door and it is what happens when the potential client gets through that door that decides on whether the sale is going to be made; sometimes the pricing doesn’t work, and sometimes (quite often) it is down to the client’s customer service.

I have been involved in so many projects where the client is ready to spend quite a lot of money on its marketing, but is unaware of, or does not want to face up to, what sort of customer service potential clients are receiving when they contact the company.    I have had stand up fights with shop owners in shopping malls that we have worked on who insist that we should be doing more marketing, but do not realize that when their backs are turned the shop assistants are closing the shops and going for an all day coffee break!  I have argued until I am blue in the face with clients whose products or services are priced way out of the market and, consequently, whilst potential customers like what they are seeing, they are not ready to buy.  I have even run a promotional campaign where the client’s email address to which a potential customer had to respond was never answered, and another where the telephone and emails were mostly ignored and the welcoming committee in the client’s offices was just the rudest that I had ever met.

I know it all sounds very obvious, but before embarking on any sort of marketing or PR campaign, you really need to think about what a potential customer is going to find when they contact you; is your website up to date (OK, I know that most of us don’t much like our websites, but at least make sure it is reasonably OK) have you briefed your staff so that they know what you are promoting and will say the right things if they are asked?   Does your office, your people, and your general customer service approach meet with a potential client’s expectations?   I dare to say that it might not……

As my old boss used to say, ‘it is very difficult to win a client and very easy to lose one’ – so don’t spend all your spare cash on marketing only to let someone in your team lose a potential client because they haven’t been trained to close the sale.

More soon.