Branding goes much deeper than a catchy logo, its use of typography, or even having an attractive color palette. In fact, it evolves from places we don’t always think of as branding.
When it comes to brand building or rebranding, customer service is often the last and most ignored piece of the puzzle. Neglecting customer care is a huge mistake and a missed opportunity to attract and retain customers, differentiate the business and strengthen brand loyalty.
As tireless as the line “customers are the lifeblood of a business” goes, not one company can avoid interaction with their clients. In fact, how a company handles this communication can make all the difference in its success. It can either increase the reputation of a brand or create a permanent damage on all levels.
Providing high-quality service and support drive customers to return to a business for a repeat transaction. This directly influences people’s perception of the company and the general opinion about their business.
Naturally, a positive customer experience will affect a customer’s decision to purchase a business’ product or service again. Moreover, most of the consumers will trust the experiences of others through word-of-mouth advertising, which is why each needs to walk away from the establishment feeling good about their purchase.
The increasing engagement of the world online emphasizes the need for brands to communicate with customers online. This makes the Internet a crucial point of access that contributes to the brand. This includes a company’s website, official blog, active social media channels, a call center, and email correspondence.
Delivering a good experience through each of these channels can set a company apart from the competition. From blog posts to direct communication, it’s all about showing customers they can rely on a business.
When done right, an efficient customer service can help achieve excellent branding and a truly sustainable competitive advantage. Here are five more ways customer service can reinforce branding.
#1. Develop an Authentic Customer Style
An excellent customer service provided by a company is pointless if the style comes off scripted or of the cookie-cutter variety. Customers today, of all ages, more importantly, the generation of millennials, seek a genuine and unique customer experience.
For instance, the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, a major force that revolutionized the hospitality industry by standardizing employment selection criteria and facilities during the 1980’s, was also known to have standardized an aspect of its operations: the language used by its employees.
In retrospect, this may have been an overreach, although, for two decades running, it seemed to be working. But, as customer tastes changed over time, their prescribed language began to sound insincere–especially when employees parroted them in situations where they didn’t fit.
As The Ritz-Carlton discovered that customers today—the younger generation in particular—are turned off by stilted or overly formal communication, their gut reaction to such a service style, even when the most caring staff uses it, is usually negative.
Instead of training with a script, the best thing a business can do is to teach its employees to deal with situations, both easy and challenging ones. Give them the tools to recognize guest behaviors and conditions, as well as to respond appropriately and efficiently.
#2. Establish a Culture Code
To build an excellent customer care, begin by defining the company’s brand values and goals or culture code. A company’s culture code should serve as the foundation of all the brand’s actions and determine how a company will approach everything it will do.
It needs to directly answer questions such as: What is the company’s purpose? How does customer support reinforce the company’s purpose?
A culture code envisions every job role from top to bottom and should serve as a guide in all the decisions employees make.
#3. Maximize the Social Media Handle
With the Internet revolutionizing the world, consumerism most of all, businesses need to interact with their customers online. This interaction usually begins with the company’s website, which should be designed in such a way that it responds behavior of customers who are in different stages of their purchase journey.
Online interaction comprises methods that need to be analyzed, all of which can play into building trust between the company and its consumers. Blogs, social media engagement, and responses to reviews are some of them.
#4. Let Customers Contribute
Successful companies allow their customers to talk about their experience doing business with them, regardless whether the experience was good or bad.
A company should address as many of their clients’ concerns as possible to build trust and instill into them a feeling of being acknowledged.
#5. Make Customer Care Everyone’s Priority
Taking good care of each and every customer should be a top priority of any company–from sales clerks to C-Suite. Seeing the management walk their talk and help on the front line should create a positive impression that everyone is truly contributing to customers’ satisfaction. That said, the right customer care representatives should be properly equipped with the skills in providing quality service that reflect the values of a brand.
Today, brand building is about forging strong ties with customers. In this regard, a company’s customer service stories should be about customers’ positive experiences and emotional associations with a brand. This should increase a business’ customer loyalty and competitive advantage.
Rhiza is a writer who is passionate about customer service, customer experience, customer relations management, and social media. She likes scouring the web for interesting stories about customer service and blogs them at various sites. For more updates, follow Rhiza’s twitter