Business

Focus on customer service as a brand component | Kelly Maloney

One way companies of all sizes attract and retain customers is by putting them first.

Most organizations have some aspect of customer service written into their mission statements, but very few actually make this an actionable component of their brand strategy.

They fail to train their employees on reverent customer service. They fail to give their employees access to tools to make things right when things go wrong. In some cases, those on the front lines lack the authority to “make it right.” And in the worst of all offenses, many organizations actually make their customers feel as if “the problem” is unique to them; that possibly they are the cause of the widget not working or the only one in the universe whose milk “smells funny.” The valued customer, the reason these companies exist, is left empty-handed, short-changed, de-valued and, most of all, mad enough to tell others about his experiences and go to your competition.

By putting customers first, you are telling them and the world you exist for them. Your business is a manifestation of their needs. Is this true? In a sense. Of course, you are in business to make a profit, but that’s understood. It’s part of the cycle.

Does this mean the customer is always right? No. There are times real business acumen trumps customer expectations. You aren’t going to let a loud, obnoxious customer disrupt your other customers. Or at least you shouldn’t. You’ll be handsomely rewarded with loyalty from the other customers if you kick out the one making a fuss over nothing.

For Mandy Anderson, co-owner of MeMe and Company, a full-service salon located in Federal Way, this concept was second nature. “I realized in June of ‘08 that there was a recession coming in the third quarter. Fourth quarter was miserable in here,” she said.

MeMe and Company had always had a strong sense of customer service. But it was at that point Mandy and her co-owner husband, Troy, realized they had to do something to make revenues while also meeting the needs of their customers, whom they refer to and treat as “guests.”

They instituted a new brand plan, incorporating and implementing more guest-focused activities. They started the “Glam Club,” where member guests receive exclusive samples and coupons, and are invited to sample parties to “try new things” in a fun, friendly atmosphere.

In a short amount of time, these measures and more were able to stave off a deep negative impact to revenues while revving up customer loyalty.

“I have been going to MeMe and Company since about the time they opened. Mandy and her staff are always fun to be with. I look forward to my appointments because I know I will have a good laugh, great friendship and be completely satisfied with the service I have received,” said Claudia Griffith, a MeMe and Company guest.

One final note about MeMe: The company isn’t run in a standard salon style, in which stylists essentially rent space and have no motivation to increase brand equity for the company. Mandy and Troy have opted out of that model. They take full responsibility for all aspects of service, working guest service into their business plan, crossing it over to their brand strategy and marketing plans, training their employees on its value, and treating all guests as if they are the sole reason MeMe and Company even opened its doors.

Whatever you call them — customers, clients or guests — the service they receive has a direct impact on your brand. So for greater revenues, make sure customer service is a component of your brand strategy.

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