Believe it or not, your customer service experience is actually your most powerful marketing channel.
Not direct mail? Not Super Bowl commercials? Not email newsletters? Not social media?
That’s right. Customer service is your #1 marketing channel.
Nothing builds your brand as effectively; nothing drives repeat purchases more quickly; nothing increases the value of your products and services more efficiently than your customer service.
Why is this? Well, for one, it is 5x easier to sell to an existing customer than to find a new customer – so keeping your customers 100% satisfied is actually a business growth strategy. And how do you keep existing customers happy? Through stellar customer service.
Think about the last experience you’ve had with a luxury brand. Maybe you stopped by the Louis Vuitton storefront on 5th Avenue last time you were in New York City. Or maybe you had to have your Lexus taken in for a tune up. Or even the last time you flew first class.
How did you feel?
You were still at a retail store with four walls, or a dealership with cars on the lot, or in a cabin on an airplane. But there was something more…
The people there had smiles on their faces. They knew everything about the experience you were having. They helped you with something before you even knew you needed help. They surprised you with a bottle of water, or an espresso, or a glass of complimentary champagne.
In short, you were treated like royalty.
These are experiences that delight customers. They are the experiences that get shared with future customers. And they are they experiences that keep customers coming back for more.
How luxury brands create an amazing customer service experience
For luxuries, like Louis Vuitton, Lexus, and Emirates, the royal treatment is a necessary component of their customer service, of their marketing, and of their brand.
First, they have immense product knowledge. They know every feature, function, color, size, use case, option, and combination for their inventory. Customers like dealing with experts – they feel more comfortable with their decisions and they are less likely to feel buyer’s remorse when they know they’ve bought from someone who knows everything about their challenge and the products that solve it.
One of our clients, Hugo Boss, has a very large product catalog, with half a dozen brands across the company, including Boss Black, Boss Selection, and Hugo. Our team of Care Specialists has to have deep knowledge of the product lines and an understanding of pairings, combinations, and how to make recommendations for the customer.
If someone has a question about which suit to buy, then our Care Specialist has the product knowledge to ask probing questions about the occasion.
Is this an everyday work suit? A weekend suit? A nightlife suit?
For a business suit, the customer will want something very durable, that can withstand many wears and still look sharp. For a party suit, the customer will care more about the suit’s luxury feel and material than durability.
This enables the Customer Care Specialist to become a trusted advisor, helping the customer along the way, and upselling and cross selling without seeming smarmy.
Brand Voice, Tone, and Attitude
Next, the Customer Care Specialist must have a core understanding of the brand voice, tone, and attitude. When they pick up the phone, respond to an email, or reply to a chat, the customer should have the same exact feeling as when they walk into a Hugo Boss store and are greeted by a store concierge.
Is this person that is welcoming the buyer into the Hugo Boss customer service experience exuding the brand? Customers will subconsciously pick up on this subtle branding, and they will know that they’ve just had a “Hugo Boss experience.”
And the math adds up. Because they have big margins on their products and services, luxury brands don’t need to worry as much about traditional customer service metrics, like average handling time. They know that the extra time spent helping their customer over the phone, in a chat window, over email, or on social media will be paid back many times over by a lifetime of brand loyalty.
What if you’re not a luxury brand?
Now, what if you could create that effect without even being a premium, luxury brand?
Would you consider Amazon a luxury brand? Definitely not. But their customer service is legendary. They provide an excellent level of customer support, they’re incredibly fast, they carry through the Amazon tone and voice, and they surprise and delight their customers with faster-than-expected delivery and free returns.
Zappos, part of Amazon, famously doesn’t pay attention to average customer handling time – they once helped a customer on the phone for 8 hours straight! Now that’s white-glove service.
Every company can add some strategic flare to their customer experience. The key to it paying dividends in the long run is in having the concierge touch be reflective of the brand, and doing it consistently, in every single customer service interaction.
What can you do to create a luxury brand experience through customer service?
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