We live in an age in which outsourced call centers located in India or Thailand (like the one parodied on Inside Amy Shumer) give lackluster or confused assistance, utility and cable companies give ambiguous “windows” of time in which their employees may or may not show up, and loads of online only companies ensure they have no guaranteed way in which for you to make contact with an actual person. The truth is — we’re all getting used to being treated poorly in our day-to-day transactions.
That’s why if you want to stand out these days, you really only need do one simple thing: Offer truly good service.
Customer service, social media, and brand evangelists
Couple that good service with the power of social media and your brand’s evangelists will do your marketing for you. A perfect example is this post from a Portland area parenting group I belong to on Facebook:
“While shopping at the grocery store with Beckett this afternoon he swallowed a bite of cookie wrong and gagged. He has a very sensitive gag reflex and it usually results in him throwing up. Well… he threw up in the organic frozen foods isle. Everywhere. It was horrible. I rushed over to an employee and told her what happened. She jumped into action. She not only brought me paper towels and Clorox wipes but she had another employee bring me a brand new shirt for him since his was ruined (totally free on them they said) and a bottle of cold water for Beck. A third employee brought a new cart and was already loading vomit free items out of the dirty cart into a clean one. These angels at Fred Meyer today – thank you. Thank you for not making me feel like an idiot and that my sweet boy had done something wrong. Thank you for understanding that while standing there with throw up on my hands and his face buried in my chest I just needed help. Thank you for putting a smile on his face when he was embarrassed and telling him everything was going to be okay.”
Within minutes of this post going up on our private group of over 10,000 members, the comment feed had filled up with parents pledging their loyalty to and extolling the virtues of Fred Meyer. Some added their own great customer service stories, others said they’d have to give Freddy’s a try as their regular market, there were even a couple of people who said they’d had a less than great experience before but because of this shared story would be giving FM (especially this location) another try. Many said they were going to share the story with their friends.
And I’m here today, calling it out on my writing and marketing blog as an example of not only stellar service, but as the perfect kind of marketing for today’s marketplace — authentic client-first marketing.
Client-first marketing begins with authenticity
What is client-first marketing? It’s knowing your clients’ and potential clients’ needs and desires well enough to be able to give it to them. It’s thinking client first, not your annual sales goals first (though, that will naturally and inevitably follow, if you get this right).
Most of all, it’s delivering what you promise (and maybe even a bit more) because you genuinely want to offer a product or service that your clients sincerely need or want. It’s being authentic as a company, as a brand, and as the person behind the brand.
What is authenticity in marketing?
We hear a lot about authenticity in marketing these days but what does it really mean? How does it look? And how can you apply it in a company larger than one?
of undisputed origin; genuine.
Authenticity is easy — it’s just you being you, right? But what about when it’s applied to your business?
This is where we lose folks — because traditional marketing tropes make us try too hard to convince everyone to be our customer, when the truth is — you couldn’t serve everyone, even if you wanted to. This is why, before you ever open your doors, hire a single employee, marketing firm or copywriter, you’re first going to have to get REAL.
Getting REAL with your marketing
You need to have that stripped down “Come to Jesus” conversation with yourself, figuring out not only what you do and who you serve but what you’re really about as a company, a culture, and ultimately a brand.
Without a guide like this for you and everyone in your company, you risk losing customers due to an unsatisfying experience. Fred Meyer most certainly has these values clarified and in place and has done an excellent job of training all of their employees in how best to treat their customers that is in alignment with these clearly outlined goals.
How do I know this? Because every single employee reacted in a way that was authentically kind, sympathetic and real for that mother, turning what would have been a horrifying and tough experience in that mama’s day into one that left her feeling positive not only about those employees and the store but maybe even humanity in general. That’s a powerful customer experience and one that breeds loyalty and an instant brand ambassador.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it . . .
While many companies go to the trouble of drawing up a formal business plan, along with a mission, values and vision statement, in my experience there are many, many more (especially small businesses) who don’t. This is their very first mistake and one that, when it comes time to hire someone to help you distill your message and aid you with your marketing efforts, must be addressed.
If not, the alternative is wasted time and marketing dollars, ineffective messaging, inconsistent branding, and ultimately unhappy customers.
If you’re looking for help getting your brand’s vision out into the world, let me help you find the right words. Even if you need to back up a step because you’re unsure what exactly your mission, vision, values or brand are — I can help with that too! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll help you Get it Write!