The world is full of advertising methods. There are roadside billboards, commercials (television, online streaming platforms and radio), ads crowding nearly every webpage you visit, email and snail mail ads, vehicle wraps and many other methods as well.
The options for advertising can seem overwhelming, especially if you are running a small business. However, for the moment, we will focus on one aspect of business that you may not have thought of as advertising: customer service.
Stand Out With Top-Notch Security
Digital security awareness has been on the rise in the last few years. More customers are asking questions: Which companies are trustworthy enough to handle sensitive personal information? What is TLS, and how is it different from or better than SSL?
People are becoming more concerned with how companies collect, use and protect their data. Stringent security is becoming a major selling point for a lot of customers, and some companies get it wrong, sometimes to wide-reaching disastrous effect. For example, when a company’s entire business revolves around managing sensitive customer data — such as a consumer reporting agency — massive, costly breaches can be even more shocking.
Getting data security wrong can drive customers away and damage business. Getting it right can contribute to customer loyalty, and drive word-of-mouth referrals. With many major companies experiencing breaches, your business’s strong security ethic can be a great selling point.
Establish High-Quality Customer Service
Exceptional customer service is one of the most critical features of a growing business in a competitive market. Customer service representatives are on the front lines of your company, giving your customers the lasting impression that may keep them loyal or turn them away for years to come. Providing excellent customer service is as good for you and your business as it is for the customer, so don’t skimp on this essential feature.
If you have a small or medium-sized business, you may be better off contracting with a call centre service to save on costs. However, you may not want to settle for just any call service. For example, if the call service you are looking at hires workers who are mainly or exclusively outside of the region in which you do business, communication issues can arise. This could lead to errors in account management, increased administrative costs to correct problems and ultimately poor customer satisfaction. Saving a little bit on a call service is not worth losing a lot from customers leaving and writing bad reviews.
Conversely, if you have a large company, hiring and managing your own team may be advisable, particularly if you have highly specialized products or services that require knowledgeable staff. With today’s technology, this can be easier than ever to achieve, without the expense of having to establish dedicated workspace for your call centre representatives. The growing trend is to contract home-based workers, eliminating the need for physical infrastructure and exorbitant overhead costs. For example, one area of cost concern is trying to establish numerous phone lines sufficient to meet your company’s needs. However, many providers exist now to help you digitally scale your phone-based services as your business grows.
Ensure That Engaging With Your Business Is Easy and Enticing
When a customer orders a product or service, few things are more frustrating (and likely to destroy repeat sales) than making company contact information hard to find. Customers may avoid and down-vote your business if they experience bad customer service, even if the product was as promised. Conversely, customers are more likely to give a pass on the occasionally failed product experience if customer service is outstanding.
Some companies, like small start-ups, also fall short on branding their products, which can be a missed opportunity for repeat customers and referral business. Relying on a customer to remember the name of your business for next time, without having branded your product, is risky.
To improve issues around ease of contact and remembering your business, implement a few simple steps:
- Display your customer service phone number, or a “Contact Us” link, prominently on every page of your website. Making your customer scour your page for the way to contact your business could cause them to give up and move on to your competitor.
- Add your company’s name, logo and web address directly to your physical products, if there’s room and it makes sense to do so. Not only will this keep your business’s name fresh and easy for your customers to recall, but it will also simplify their ability to return directly to your storefront for future products and information.
- Include business or index card inserts inside your product’s packaging that provide information and incentives. These should contain your company name, web address and best contact information for service. They can also include free bonuses or incentives, such as a free ebook for joining your mailing list or a discount code for their next purchase.
Offer Complimentary “Extras” That Go Beyond the Competition
Consider adding free, extended troubleshooting service, even to one-time purchases, if your business involves a product or service with a steep learning curve. When a customer knows that they can reach out if they run into problems, they gain the confidence to buy complex products like software, electronic devices, CRM services and so on.
Trying to cut business costs by limiting access to customer service can cut down on profits, too. What customer wants to buy a product, get frustrated trying to make it work as they need, and then have to pay more money for the privilege of getting help understanding the product they already paid you for? While some companies have taken this approach, it’s a dissatisfying experience that is likely to drive customers away and elicit bad reviews.
While customer service might not seem like a form of advertising, in today’s interlinked world of instant communication, it is. It easily competes with the best ways to advertise, getting customers excited to share their discovery — your company — with friends, family and even across the social media platforms they frequent. There is no other form of advertising that compares to the endorsement of the masses.
Also published on Medium.