Marketing to Existing Customers / Customer Service
Each of the remaining methods of using Social Media for Business likely combine to make up less than half of the effort put into the first, and that’s a significant issue.
Once you have acquired a customer, why would you then abandon that person, and never contact them again? This is why Customer Service and Marketing to your Existing Customers goes hand in hand. A positive customer service experience could be one of the best marketing activities you can perform. On the flip side, a poor customer service experience could spell disaster. In both cases, the affect can often be felt far beyond that one customer.
For example, let’s say there was a billing error. Your new customer was billed twice for his purchase due to a glitch in the software. Below are three hypothetical examples of how this could go:
Give the Customer what they Asked for
Most people would consider this acceptable, both as the customer and the merchant.
When the customer contacts you about the billing error, you immediately issue a refund via the appropriate channels. This could be via the credit card company or any number of methods, and there is usually some sort of a delay before the people on the other end of that transaction credit the customer’s account. The customer is often satisfied, even though it may have taken 2-3 days, sometimes longer, to actually see the money back in their account. While this is no fault of yours, you acted immediately when it was brought to your attention, your customer still attaches this experience to your company in his mind. Whether it is significant enough to affect future purchases is yet to be seen. It may also dampen the customer’s enthusiasm for your brand. Don’t count on any word of mouth advertising from this customer.
Give the Customer MORE THAN they asked for
With minimal effort, you can get much more gain from this situation.
Your customer sends you an email stating that he was charged twice. As soon as you get this email, you confirm it with your records and reply right away. Your reply would contain a request for the customer’s PayPal email address stating that you will transfer the refund to him immediately upon receiving this information. No delay from the bank or credit card company, you get the customer’s money back to them immediately.
How would the customer’s response differ from the example of simply offering a refund via the usual channels? Even if they choose to go the normal route, at least you offered the option. This should cement you as a company that cares about taking care of your customers, and it’s the kind of story people will like sharing with their friends.
Give the Customer a Hard Time
Let’s look at one that isn’t exactly cut and dry.
Your customer was excited to order your widget for her husband as a Christmas gift. She got a great deal on it at your Cyber Monday deal. After receiving it, she stashed it in her closet and waited until time to wrap it. Once her husband opened the gift, and started to assemble it, they noticed a piece that was missing, making the widget unusable. He is disappointed, but they assume a quick email will result in an RMA number and the return can be processed. Imagine their surprise to find out that, since the gift was purchased almost 4 weeks ago, it is beyond the 14 day return policy deadline. They will be forced to deal with the manufacturer to have the issue resolved as a warranty exchange.
If that is the stated policy, then you are well within your rights to exercise that judgement. You won’t be out the money for return shipping, or shipping the new one, or have to deal with returning it to the manufacturer, BUT, you can pretty well forget selling anything else to that person. You have lost a customer. Do you know your lifetime customer value? If you do, then you can see what a potential hit that is. Not to mention, you now have the expense of acquiring a new customer rather than the much easier task of marketing to your existing customer base.
But what if you are not the one making that determination? For most of us, the hope is to get to a point where we are not the ones handling such day-to-day operations. Does your returns department have the discretion to make judgement calls? Or, is there a system in place for them to easily run that decision by you?
Next time we will start digging into team building via social media. Many people are choosing a more lean approach to business. Rather than occupying huge offices, having massive staff, and producing a lot of overhead, many companies have chosen a more loosely structured organization. This is often done with limited partnerships and contracted freelance work. So how do you go about building a team for your project? That will be our next topic.