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Can Customer Service be a Form of Marketing?

Feb 10, 2012

by Brom Hoban, TSSA Director of Communications

Can customer service be a form of marketing? You bet! And a darn good one at that. Typically, you think of marketing as a specific effort that you make, and then you look for the desired results. An example would be going throughout your area, and placing door hangers on apartments and homes, and then waiting to see if you get any nibbles.

However, customer service as marketing works differently. It’s more of a passive, but ongoing approach.

Here’s what I mean. A few weeks ago, my son wrecked his car. A driver had pulled into traffic crossing lanes illegally, and caused the wreck. No one was hurt, and since it was the other guys’ fault, we dealt not only with our insurance company, but with his as well. 

Without intending to, I found myself actively comparing the customer service of both insurance companies.

Let’s call my company MYinsurance, and theirs OtherGuys. My first point of contact was with MYinsurance, just to start the process. MYinsurance acted a bit annoyed, and was not especially helpful regarding information about towing, etc.

OtherGuys insurance told  me that it was in my best interest to have it towed to their wrecking lot, explaining that there would be no tow charge if I did that.

I followed their recommendation, and was contacted in a day or two. “We’ll pay for everything,” they told me, after reviewing the accident report. “It was clearly our customer’s fault.”

Meantime, I  had tried to contact MYinsurance several times, but unsuccessfully. Each time I had to leave a message, with growing frustration. Apparently, each representative had so many calls, that any incoming calls always went straight to voicemail.

I called OtherGuys insurance to see how things were going, and they cheerfully informed me that the car was totaled, and told me the dollar amount that they would send in a check. It seemed like a generous amount, but I wanted a second opinion. OtherGuys told me that I was welcome to contact MYinsurance, and that they would cover an appraiser to offer a second opinion.

After a few days, I found out that MYinsurance had in fact done the appraisal, but hadn’t bothered to contact me. When I finally got through to them, they said that the car was indeed totaled, but their value came in $2,000 lower than OtherGuys amount. I quickly hung up and called OtherGuys.

Not only were they helpful, but they made me feel like I was already their customer. They were extremely prompt and treated me with great respect. When I praised them on their customer service, and asked about  their rates, the customer representative offered me a special promo code to sign up. Oh, and they sent the check immediately.

So guess which company I’m going with? If you guessed OtherGuys, you’re correct.

They earned my business by “marketing” with great customer service. And what I learned from the experience totally applies to self storage.

  • Always treat your customers like they are important.
  • Be easy to reach, whether by phone or e-mail. In the information age, there’s no excuse.
  • Don’t make people wait- nobody likes that.
  • Take an upbeat attitude and share it with your customers and potential customers. It’s catchy!
  • And finally, offer a fair deal

Do those things, and make your own list of additional ways you can be helpful. By doing so, you’ll be marketing in a way that doesn’t cost anything, and will lead to more customers.

 

6 Comments

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