How customer service builds and grows your brand – essential tips
When a brand has control of its own sales channel – your e-commerce platform – it is able to mould how a good relationship with customers should be. A critical element of this is customer service, with the option of deploying it via an in-house team or through your 3PL fulfilment partner.
On the other hand, marketplaces have limited capability when it comes to brand relations. With unbranded, uniform packaging and little opportunity to forge a customer connection at any point in the purchase journey, marketplaces make it impossible to create a robust community of loyal customers on this channel.
This distinction is important because loyalty is built on positive experiences. Aside from product quality and other givens, customers really appreciate it when a brand treats them as an individual (they feel valued) and they are welcomed into a brand’s community (they get a sense of belonging).
The customer service toolkit
- Pre-sale advice
- Post-sale customer care (from warranties to returns)
- Post-sale nurturing and upselling opportunities
Customer service checklist: how does your brand measure up?
- Would any products benefit from a personal conversation before purchase?
- Can prospective customers contact you directly prior to purchase?
- Can your existing customers contact you directly after purchase?
- Is your brand’s customer service accessible across a range of channels?
- Is your customer service team fully aligned to your brand voice, culture and ethos?
- Are you using customer service channels to upsell or remarket?
- Is every touchpoint consistent throughout the customer journey?
- Do you have a process for every customer scenario – like queries or complaints?
Key channels for customer service
Customers expect convenient access to their favourite brands. When we are providing customer service for a client, we go where their customers are with comprehensive wraparound provision. This usually includes, where appropriate:
- Web chat
- Social media
From a brand’s perspective, each channel should be aligned to your brand voice, culture and ethos and optimised to be a brand ambassador. Every touchpoint should be consistent.
Do you need a customer service team?
Customer service can be overlooked and its true value isn’t always appreciated, especially if you rely upon marketplaces for sales. In our experience, they add excellent value across the board – facilitating sales, building relationships and brand awareness, averting brand reputation disasters, and providing opportunities to upsell.
Working out if, when and how you need to provide customer services is a daunting prospect.
Common questions about customer service provision
- Who is responsible for what?
- Are channels aligned to our brand?
- Do we have the resource to handle it?
- If we outsource customer services with a 3PL fulfilment partner, are we comfortable letting someone else speak directly to our customers?
Our best recommendation is to consult customer service professionals. If there is no need for a customer service team to support your promotional marketing campaign or product fulfilment, this will quickly become obvious – no harm, no foul.
The thorough scoping of requirements, as seen through the experienced eyes of a professional, is educational. And, in our experience, outsourcing your customer service works very well, helping you meet all 8 requirements on the above ‘does your brand measure up’ checklist.
“We don’t need customer service” – an example
A recent project Granby fulfilled for a public sector client required the recipients to complete data on the client’s bespoke portal.
Unfortunately, factors out of our control meant that recipients couldn’t log into or navigate the portal. Nor could they find an easy way to contact our client for advice – the client had previously declined a customer service requirement for this project.
However, quite by chance (and good fortune), the recipients did know that Granby was working with the client to fulfil the project. When they came to us to help them troubleshoot, we were able to respond quickly and, working with our client, set up an official customer service resource immediately to cope with the snags of the project effectively.
How to outsource your customer service
- Consult with a 3PL customer service specialist and thoroughly assess requirements from all angles – including returns and recalls.
- Together, work through the correct responses to all these requirements.Your provider should be able to provide critical logistical input at this stage.
- Brief and train your provider so they can be true ambassadors for your brand, not only dealing with enquiries but actively building relationships and future opportunities.
- Your 3PL customer service provider will monitor ongoing activity. If they are experienced, they should be able to spot and respond to emerging situations.
If you have any questions about how a 3PL partner can provide customer service with a ‘brand ambassador’ approach, we’ll be happy to talk it through with you. We provide experienced customer service teams for both promotional marketing and 3PL fulfilment projects.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels