Often, successful content marketing relies most heavily on content created by your customers, rather than by your brand. Columnist Rachel Lindteigen explains how excelling at customer service should be part of your content strategy.
If you have customers, then yes, customer service is a big key to your content marketing success. If you don’t have (or want) customers, then it probably doesn’t matter. However, I don’t know of many successful businesses without customers, do you?
So how does customer service fit into the overall content marketing mix? Why does it matter, and more importantly, what do you need to do about it in order to succeed?
The customer experience — good and bad
Think for a moment about a great customer service experience you had. What did you do? Did you tell someone else? Did you even tell the vendor? It’s highly unlikely you did anything, and that’s normal. Now, think about a poor experience. What did you do? Did you write negative reviews everywhere you could? Did you tell friends and family and random strangers you met who asked about that subject (or not)?
Personally, I don’t normally write reviews, even though I use them when I’m doing research. I know I should write them to help others, but I figure if there are 900 great reviews, mine won’t really matter that much. However, if something goes wrong or the experience is really bad, I will write a review with the hope that I might save someone else from the same frustrations that I experienced.
Have you done the same? If so, you’re not alone. And this is why it’s so important to provide great customer service from the beginning or make things right immediately if there is an issue. A widely cited survey from 1st Financial Training Services found that 96 percent of dissatisfied customers will never complain, and 91 percent of them will simply leave and never return.
Think about that for a moment. Only four percent of your dissatisfied customers will ever tell you, giving you the chance to make it right. Can you afford to potentially alienate such a big customer group?
While they might not talk to you, they’ll certainly talk to their friends and family, post Yelp and Google reviews and more. Between 2011 and 2013, the likelihood that a dissatisfied customer would post about their most significant issue online has gone up substantially, according to the Customer Rage Studies conducted by Consumer Care Measurement and Consulting in conjunction with the W. P. Carey School of Business and Arizona State University (ASU).
This is why customer service is such an important part of your overall content marketing success. If you listen to your customers, you will learn about their needs — which gives you a better sense of what kind of content they are looking for. Are they having issues with installation? Do you need to provide more clear information on a subject? Is there confusion over what’s included and what’s optional? All of these scenarios could be addressed via content marketing. If you notice that most of your customer complaints surround one area, is there a way you can provide additional information about that issue on your website or in social media?
Don’t let negativity overwhelm your social media content
Beyond the obvious addition of helpful information on your website, how does customer service really play into your content marketing success? Are you an active user of social media? Have you been on Facebook or Twitter? If your customers comment, are you responding to all comments — both the good and the bad — in a timely manner? If not, you still have work to do.
Here’s an example from the Pottery Barn Facebook page. A customer has commented on an image that Pottery Barn posted and noted some issues they’ve had with an order. Within the hour, a rep from the Pottery Barn team has acknowledged the comment and offered an alternative solution to find an answer to the situation at hand.
They’ve asked the customer to reach out to customer service with the order information to help figure out what’s going on. Pottery Barn did a great job of hearing the customer’s complaint and responding appropriately and in a timely manner. Unfortunately, this didn’t satisfy the customer fully.
The customer continued to add multiple notes to the page for 16 hours. In total, there were 12 posts from this upset client. Eleven of the responses came after the Pottery Barn rep acknowledged the situation, offered additional assistance and tried to take the conversation offline.
This shopper appears to want a public forum for her grievance, which is pretty normal today. Many more customers are taking their complaints to this type of public forum. They want to be heard by a larger group. If they only wanted to resolve a situation, they might call customer service directly, but many who post on corporate social media pages are looking for a bigger audience.
It’s the little things that mean a lot
Because so many customers want to air their grievance publicly today, companies really have to do an exceptional job of customer service at all times. Sometimes, it’s the seemingly small things that make a big difference to the customer. Williams Sonoma’s Facebook page received a simple note from a very happy customer whose Easter cookie order was delivered almost a week earlier than expected and in time for the holiday. She didn’t expect the order until several days after the holiday, according to her note.
So why is this important to content marketing success? Obviously, if you’re focusing on social media and trying to build your Facebook or Twitter strategy, and your page is full of unhappy customers and no response from the company, what does it look like to other potential customers? It looks like you don’t care, you are unengaged, and they’d probably be better off going to your competition.
What if there are a few unhappy posts but also some very happy ones? It looks better. It’s more natural. You aren’t likely going to make everyone happy, but you sure can try to provide great service.
Generally speaking, great customer service is key to your content marketing success because more people are finding out about you from websites you don’t control. They’re looking at review sites, social media and other places before ever seeing your actual website. What does the messaging look like on those other sites? And are you taking advantage of what you know about your customers and providing the information they need so it’s easy to find and use when they need it? By listening to your customers, responding to them and providing great service at all times, you can help your overall content marketing success.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.
(Some images used under license from Shutterstock.com.)