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Poor service can negate even the best marketing efforts

Poor service can negate even the best marketing efforts

It’s story time again. I’ll admit I’m not the easiest customer in the world, but I still believe in excellent service from the companies with which I choose to do business. It’s why I drive the make of car I drive, and frankly, the basis of many of my purchasing decisions.

One highly unsatisfied customer can undo a ton of good will

My husband will tell you that it’s never in your best interest to disappoint me when it comes to having me as a customer. Once there was a promotional offer from a specific handbag brand I loved. I didn’t receive the promotional mailing, so I called the company to ask if I could get it. They explained it was a targeted promotion, and they were unable to offer it to me. Offering me the promotion would’ve cost them about $75. That was approximately seven years ago – I haven’t purchased from them since.

Or, there was the time I received a coupon from a beauty retailer. I excitedly piled my purchases (totaling somewhere in the realm of $200) on the counter, only to be told that the (very) small print on the coupon excluded everything I was buying. My savings would have been around $20, but not one person – not even the manager – attempted to do anything to satisfy me as a customer. I left the cosmetics on the counter and walked out. I have not shopped in that store since – and that was probably ten years ago.

In both instances above, not only did the stores/brands lose my business, but I can tell you that I told everyone about my experiences – and that was before the rise of internet review sites, social media, etc.

Great marketing efforts can’t overcome poor service

Recently, I had the occasion to shop for a particular product category online. There were several options available, but I ended up selecting one based on reviews, description, and – to a degree – price. I did have a question about the product, so I contacted the company via their online contact form.

How a company responds to you can make all the difference

After two days, I hadn’t heard back from anyone. Despite my annoyance, I gave them the benefit of the doubt – maybe they were very busy or someone was out sick. I contacted them again, reminding them that I had already contacted them, and reiterating my question. Another three days passed with no answer. At that point, I found another product on a different site and started all over again. This time, I got my question answered and placed my order. (By the way, another week has gone by, and I still haven’t received a response from the first company).

And what if a company simply makes a mistake?

We’re human – mistakes happen. When you’re selling a product – or even a service – a mistake can easily be turned into an opportunity. At Christmas time, I received the wrong item from an online retailer. I called about the problem, as it was close to Christmas and I hoped to have the item in time for my daughter to open it Christmas morning. The rep I spoke with apologized profusely, reordered the item, shipped it to me overnight (at their expense), and told me to keep the mistaken item I received (of not insubstantial value). Sure enough, I received the correct item in record time, and they made a new fan.

Marketing is hard work: Don’t let it be undone by inferior service

Anyone who has ever sold anything will tell you that it’s not easy to get your name out there, let alone to get somebody to come to you and actually buy something. When someone actually interacts with your business – whether it is through a purchase, or even an inquiry – your every effort should be to make sure that person gets the best possible service. If you make a mistake, own it – and find a way to turn a negative into a positive. Might that cost you some money? It might. But the small investment is just a fraction of the cost of acquiring another customer or potential customer – especially when this one is already within your reach.

Mar 25, 2015
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