With customer service, it seems that companies either get it, or they don’t. There are lots of stories of companies going out of their way to make sure that a customer is happy. Unfortunately, there are many more stories about companies that completely miss the boat when it comes to their customer service. And why anyone would miss the boat so badly with customer service is beyond me… customers are the lifeblood of any company. Lose a customer and you have to gain another one. Gaining a customer is hard (or expensive) depending on the industry that you are in and your marketing and sales process.
Unfortunately, with social media these days, a company’s bad customer service can become a very public nightmare very quickly. If you are familiar with Amy’s Baking Company you will know exactly what I am talking about. The company went on Gordan Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmare and the owners were so hard to work with that Gordon Ramsey actually left without making any changes. This started what Buzzfeed called “The Most Epic Brand Meltdown on Facebook Ever” (It’s an entertaining read, but there is some strong language from the owners’ Facebook posts, so consider yourselves warned). The whole episode ended with the bakery closing, showing how powerful a customer service fail can be.
But what about good customer service? Of course the train wrecks of bad customer service spread like wildfire through the different social media channels. What can a company do to get their great customer service noticed and shared? We are going to look at three brands that totally get customer service and how they spread their message.
Buffer Has That Personal Touch
Buffer is a big brand that doesn’t act that way. I use Buffer for all of my social media scheduling (and so do a lot of other people), and I made a tutorial video showing how to schedule retweets using Buffer. Just a simple video that I made, posted to my blog, and then tweeted it mentioning Buffer. You can see the post here and a screenshot of the tweet below.
I didn’t think anything of it. I was excited to find a time saver and wanted to share it on my blog. I didn’t think that Buffer would particularly care. I am not even a paying customer – I use their free account. However, I got a tweet from buffer saying that they wanted to send me something and asking me to message them my address. I did and then this happened:
Totally unexpected, but I got a handwritten note from Bonnie at Buffer along with a bunch of sweet stickers. Did it cost them much? No. However they made me feel like a million bucks because of the personal touch. And I have seen other stories of their great service and responsiveness. They are truly a big company that values their customers and it shows!
Key Takeaway – The Personal Touch Can Go a Long Way Towards Making a Customer Feel Valued.
Right Movers Has Figured Out The Referral Game
Full disclosure – Tim, the owner of Right Movers in Tustin, CA is a friend of mine. However, that has made it easier for me to see what he is doing in his business and see the crazy growth that he has had over the last year. When I met him a little bit over a year ago, he had just leased 3 new trucks and was hoping to be able to keep them moving. He had some pretty good reviews on Yelp, and he obviously was passionate about his business, but he just hadn’t been able to grow all that much (to be fair, moving is a pretty competitive industry to get into).
Then, Tim decided to get serious about his referral marketing. He knew that he had to look more professional, so he had his website redesigned, had new business cards made, and new graphics on his trucks. And he started asking customers to leave him a review on Yelp as well as asking for referrals. Suddenly he went from having right about 40 5 star reviews to 97 5 star reviews at time of writing. And when you read his reviews, it’s easy to see why he gets so many referrals. He gets back to people quickly, his guys take their job seriously (and in turn make sure that they take good care of their clients’ stuff), his prices are fair, and he is accommodating in his scheduling.
Another aspect of Right Mover’s growth is an organization called BNI. It is a referral organization, and Tim attributes a good amount of his growth to joining. After a year in BNI, not only are his 3 trucks kept busy, he has had to lease an additional 2 trucks to keep up with demand (and we haven’t even gotten to the busy summer months yet). And all of this growth has come because Right Movers has figured out the referral game – give amazing service, stand behind your work, ask for reviews, and ask for referrals.
Key Takeaway – If you want to get referrals, you better offer an outstanding product/service
Custom Comfort Mattresses
If you have been mattress shopping recently, you are probably surprised that there is a mattress place listed here. But Custom Comfort does things a little bit differently. First of all, they produce a quality product that they stand behind. It’s important to note that no matter how good the service was, I would not have purchased (or referred friends and family to purchase) a Custom Comfort mattress if they did not make an incredibly high quality mattress. My wife and I are not fans of memory foam, and it seemed that every other mattress store only sold memory foam (or their super cheap mattresses that felt like cardboard).
Going into all of the other mattress stores (and we went to a lot) was truly an experience that I would rather forget. Salesmen talking down to us. Salesmen trying to convince us that there must be something wrong with us if we didn’t want memory foam. Salesmen trying to sell us a mattress that we clearly hated the feel of. Mostly, it can all be summed up as salesmen trying to sell a mattress whether the we wanted it or not. My wife was beginning to get a little bit desperate, wondering if we would ever find a mattress that we could stand (we weren’t even looking for a mattress that we loved any more – we just wanted something marginally better than the 16 year old mattress that we had used for our whole marriage).
Thankfully we stumbled upon the Custom Comfort store in Brea, CA. It was a totally different experience. The super helpful salesperson asked us some questions, actually listened to our answers, and then used that info to suggest a bed that she thought we would like. We were expecting to be led to some of the expensive beds (like at every other mattress store) but instead we were led to one of the cheapest options. The saleslady said, “I think you guys will really like this one. Why don’t you guys lie down for 10 minutes or so and relax and see how it feels.” That was her pitch. Mind you, we had our 6 year old and 10 year old boys there with us, so she proceeded to talk to and entertain them while my wife and I relaxed. We did try a few of the other mattresses in the store, but we ended up buying the original one that our saleslady recommended. We got out the door with a mattress, fancy sheets and an awesome pillow for less than half of what we thought we were going to have to pay AND we had an amazing experience in the store.
Key Takeaway – Listen to your customers and point them in the right direction – don’t try to sell them what they don’t want or need.
Amazing customer service doesn’t have to be difficult, it is possible, and it makes an enormous difference in the customer experience. By being personal and adding little touches, Buffer was able to make me feel like I was important to them. By focusing on providing excellent service (in an industry not known for it) Right Movers was able to get a lot more referrals from their customers. And by listening to their customers and giving them what they want/need, Custom Comfort was able to make a fan for life (and get the referrals that come with that).