A consumer comes to know a brand through the different customer touch-points. They’re all the times a consumer comes into interaction with your brand. From initial awareness, throughout the relationship.
Customer support plays a big part in this, and is in a way the most direct form of customer touch-point. In this sense, customer support has a direct correlation with the way customers perceive your brand which is why customer support is so crucial.
A study found that 76% of consumers look at customer service as the ultimate test of how much a company values them. (2015 Aspect Consumer Experience Survey)
In the following, we will examine the impacts of customer service on a brand and how customer support in it’s essence is the absolute brand advocate.
First however, I would like to clarify the type of customer service we are referring to. Rather than looking at the many remarkable stories out there of companies delivering the WOW to individual customers, for this discussion we will be looking at the mass culture of customer service within a company.
How customer support as a body impacts your brand.
To better understand what I mean by the overall customer support culture, make sure to read our previous article ‘How to Better Deal with Frustrated Customers’. In there we talk about a customer support culture integrated from Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory.
Neutral and/ or Positive Stimuli - Customer Support as an Amplifier of Good Deeds
Good customer service is not about making it big with one major story. Unlike the all too familiar hero’s journey, it is not about one defining moment where your brand gets caught up by a swarm of consumers.
On the contrary it is like the diligent student who consistently and untiringly delivers outstanding performance. Not a spike, but a steady journey upwards.
Sounds boring, even mildly unimpressive?
Well no. I’d beg to differ! Perhaps we’re more accustomed to finding the hero story to be impressive with our overexposure to it time and time again in movies and TV series. But we should also realize that eventually, even the hero needs to continuously deliver in order to uphold their reputation.
In the same manner, a company should aim to continuously deliver great customer support no matter rain or shine.
Good customer support is like an amplifier. It works to sweeten the pot, acting as an added bonus for the customers to remember you by. Not only does it evangelizes your brand by attracting new customers, but good customer support also helps increase sales, converting your regular customer into a brand loyal fan!
- 40% of customers begin purchasing from a competitor because of their reputation for great customer service. (Zendesk)
- 52% of consumers have made more purchases from a company after having a good customer service experience. (Zendesk)
- 73% of consumers say friendly customer service reps can make them fall in love with a brand. (RightNow)
- 86% are willing to pay up to 25% more for a better customer experience. (RightNow)
Another way that to look at customer support that I find quite helpful it this. Imagine your product or service as the gift from you to your customers. Customer support in this case would be the attitude or method in which you give your present.
Perhaps you have the world’s best present to give, an outstanding product irresistible to almost anyone. But even such a gift would not be received well if you gave it in a demeaning manner. How nice would that be if your friend decided to give you a present while shouting insults at your face (an extreme example indeed, but not without a point).
By not keeping your CS team up to par, you're actually losing out on an opportunity to evangelize for your brand. This can be problematic even, leaving a bad taste for your customers.
Just think of all the times you’ve tried reaching the right people over a simple request. Or try to imagine having to do that, trying to get a straightforward task done just to be bounced around by different CS personnel. The thought alone is enough to put one off from engaging any further.
If this is your attitude towards your customers, then you can pretty much kiss the idea of repeat business goodbye. The Global State of Multichannel Customer Service report found that 62% of global consumers have stopped doing business with a brand after experiencing sub-par customer support.
Yes, you better believe it. Bad customer support can be detrimental to your brand, not matter how strong your product (and even more so if your product or service is not as strong as you would like it to be).
Negative Stimuli - When 💩 Hits The Fan
It’s bad enough to have shitty service in general. But just put yourself in the shoes of a customer as you picture this.
You just found out that a product of yours is faulty and that there has been a recall notice sent out by the company. You’re frustrated because it's the holiday seasons and life is already a handful with all the scheduling and planning during this time of year.
You’re especially annoyed because this is yet another problem to add to your many concerns and of course you wouldn’t just let it slip (why should you?), so you contact their customer support to find out about the protocols for the recall.
What happens next is crucial.
If after all this frustration, you are greeted with a friendly attitude and a simple solution, you are perhaps less annoyed and even impressed with the company for having everything under wraps. But what if it wasn’t?
What if you hit a wall in trying to contact the company’s representatives?
Just recently Conair found themselves in a compromising situation not unlike the one described above.
In what the Consumer Product of Safety Commission deemed as the largest kitchen-appliance recall ever to be recorded, Conair, parent company of Cuisinart recalled over 8 million food processors dating from 1996 through to December 2015.
This massive recall on the food processor was (and perhaps still is) a nightmare to many. With Christmas just around the corner, people were not taking the news lightly and many found themselves scrambling for the replacement.
Recalls and other bad press regarding the company’s offerings can really be damaging to a brand. It is in a way an attack to your most prized possession, what your company is in business for and can really put a dent in future business.
In this example, the faulty blades found in Cuisinart food processors were not only fatal to users but also to the company. A situation like this is like a wound on the company’s reputation, and if mistreated with bad customer support and company follow up, can cause irremediable damage.
At the moment, this is exactly what we see being played out. As consumers are hurrying to get their replacement, they find themselves hitting a dead end, with many reaching a busy tone. An innocent lady in Virginia even found herself flooded by calls due to similarities of her own line with the customer support number.
Though the company is slowly picking up pace and responding more efficiently to consumers, but can you imagine the destruction it would cause if they had not picked up their game?
Turning The Dilemma On Its Head
A great business should view every situation as an opportunity. Of course, no one in their right mind would want to experience a recall quite like that. But even then, a company that puts their customers first can still come out shining!
In 1982, seven people died of cyanide poisoning. The link between the deaths? Tylenol.
Apparently, someone had laced the leading household brand with cyanide on the outset of a poisoning spree. Many marketers at the time had predicted that Tylenol, which accounted to 17% of Johnson & Johnson’s net income, would fall under the incident.
Nowadays, Tylenol is still standing strong. So what happened?
Upon discovering the news, Johnson & Johnson immediately leaped into action. Putting customer safety before profit, they urgently pulled a stop on the product. Costing the company millions of dollars, they recalled 31 million bottles of Tylenol.
On top of that, they initiated national warnings, informing the public to stop any consumption of Tylenol. They even went as far as to establish hotlines for concerned consumers.
After a short period of two months, Tylenol re-launched their product with tamper-proof packaging. The case is now considered a teaching model for crisis-management. Along with the product’s current success, proves that even in a disastrous situation, a company can come out on top.
If you’re interested in other company recall stories, check out this article on Entrepreneur:
How Fitbit, Like Tylenol Before It, Handled a Recall the Right Way.
A truly successful company is one who knows and cares for its clients. And this mentality should be the cornerstone of customer support. A company that genuinely puts their clients first from product to service will ultimately come out on top.
For a business to thrive, it needs to succeed in both to increase sales and decrease cost. Good customer support represents both these element. It not only helps advocate your brand but also mitigates losses. That is why beyond having a great product, advocating for your brand should start at customer support and a customer centric mindset.
Shout out to our friends at Insight Squared. Most of the facts and figures mentioned in this article was discovered at Insight Square, for more interesting facts on customer support check out their article, ‘100 Customer Service Statistics You Need to Know’