It All Boils Down to Customer Service

marketingMarketing is a tricky beast. It’s a critical element to any business yet most small and medium sized companies don’t have actual marketing departments. Budgets are limited to the cost of advertising without any room to pay outside marketing firms. The advent of technology has added a new twist to marketing trends and companies are scrambling to find someone on staff to maintain websites, blogs, and social media platforms.

For some, they just throw their hands up in the air and admit defeat. They refuse to embrace new marketing strategies because they don’t have the time or resources. They continue to market their companies just as they have for however many years.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing when the companies instead focus their efforts on providing excellent customer service. It’s one thing to implement marketing strategies but when you get customers through the door, do you create a truly memorable experience? Does your firm ever take extraordinary measures to set yourself apart from the competition? Do you provide a service to your customers that they will then share with their family, friends and beyond?

While some experts may cringe at the thought of scaling back on marketing plans and strategies, they do agree that creating a truly memorable experience can have a lasting impact.

the-art-of-logoThe FrontRunner Marketing Team recently joined about 2,000 others to attend ‘The Art of Marketing’ conference in Toronto where five authors and thought leaders shared their wisdom. The primary focus of the event was the world of marketing and how it is changing and developing.

All the presenters are internationally-known, best-selling authors: Scott Stratten, Denise Lee Yohn, Malcolm Gladwell, Matthew Dixon, and Marc Eckō. Their talks were informative and engaging, and we were able to walk away feeling more enlightened. We gained an even clearer understanding that this field continually evolves and often, at quite a dramatic rate.

It was fascinating that two of the speakers talked about a stuffed giraffe named Joshie. Both Scott Stratten and Matthew Dixon marvelled at how one company created a truly memorable experience by going above and beyond for a customer. That customer shared the experience online back in 2012 and it’s – obviously – still being shared today.

The story began when Chris Hurn called the Ritz-Carlton on Amelia Island, Florida, in a panic. His young son had left behind his cherished stuffed animal. Chris was hoping that the hotel could locate and return Joshie and that his reassuring words to his son that ‘Joshie was taking an extra long vacation’ could possibly ring true.

JoshieThe hotel not only located Joshie, they sent him home in package that included a photo album of the giraffe’s adventures while on his ‘extra long vacation’. Staff took photos of Joshie on a lounge chair by the pool, getting a massage at the spa, and driving a golf cart. Chris was blown away and wrote about the experience in a Huffington Post article.

While the Ritz-Carlton chain no doubt has a top-notch marketing department, it was a customer’s story posted online that brought this experience to light. The article has received over 11,000 Facebook Likes, over 3,500 Facebook Joshie SpaShares, 582 Tweets and 390 email shares. It cost the hotel giant nothing other than postage to send the package. Creating a lasting impression and positive experience were priceless.

In the article, Chris wrote, “Exemplary customer service distinguishes your brand, builds repeat business, combats price competition, and even improves employee morale.” He went on to say, “Create an experience so amazing that someone can’t help but tell others about it, and you’re sure to succeed.”

Scott Stratten, the first ‘The Art of Marketing’ speakers to talk about Joshie, is the President of Unmarketing. His philosophy is intriguing: Stop Marketing, Start Engaging. One of his books, The Book of Business Awesome, demonstrates how successful businesses gained exposure by being awesome and effective.

Author, Matthew Dixon focused his talk on increasing customer loyalty by reducing customer effort. Joshie’s extended vacation was a great example. Essentially, don’t make it difficult for customers to like you. He stressed that customers tell more people about a negative experience than a positive one so don’t give them that opportunity.

Customer service is paramount to any company’s success. Engaging customers and doing what you can to create a positive and memorable experience works wonders thanks to word of mouth advertising… traditional and through social media.

On Scott Stratten’s website, he outlines steps to creating brand endearment that are truly worth considering:

Listen: Pay attention to what people are saying about your brand and industry online. It can be as simple as setting up a Google Alert or using keyword search on Twitter.

Own the good you do: It’s too easy to focus on the negative. You need to make time to thank customers who love what you do.  Be proud and say thank you.

Don’t leave all those high-fives hanging. Take time away from seeking out new customers to thank the ones you have. A happy customer is your best marketer. Grow those relationships.

Engage. Social media is just a fancy term for talking to other people.  When you listen and value your customers you can create content and products that give value back to them. Be a part of the conversation.

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