More than 90% of consumers listen to their friends and the people they trust when they are making a purchase decision. That is why every encounter of a customer with your store, brand or product is critical. Every time someone asks about your brand or product or a competitor’s product, a customer’s answer will be based on that one encounter.
The surest way to make your testimonial material believable and credible is if it is true. Like any other advertising material, you need to start your advertising with the quality of your product and/or service. No poetry, no artistry, no amount of Hollywood-level acting can ever convince the market to support your business if you treat customers like crap.
The Zappos story
One shining example is Zappos, an online store in the US. In their early years, they decided they would have zero marketing budget and would pour their resources into customer services. This is how they were able to afford setting up a 365-day return policy with free shipping.
They also don’t put a time limit on the duration of their customer sales calls. The instruction is to keep the customer on the phone for as long as the customer wants to talk. What is important is to make sure the customer is happy when they put down the phone. Their customer representatives are accommodating, patient and will do anything they need to do to make the consumer happy even if it means actually referring customer to their competitor.
And where has it brought them? In their 10th year they were worth $1.2bn, with 90% of their sales coming from customer referrals.
Advertising based on stories of kindness
When they were bought by Amazon, Zappos came up with their first TV ad. The advertising agency didn’t just settle on the traditional testimonial of other people telling stories about how great the company is. They decided to really demonstrate it by putting the customer representatives to the test. They asked several people to call Zappos with the most outrageous requests to test the patience of the customer representatives. The result is the best testimonial-based campaign of any company yet. Zappos didn’t just prove they make their customers happy, they proved that they are happy to do it, too.
Not all customer service programmes have to be as extensive as this. But businesses of all sizes could learn a lot from Zappos.
Lucy Gould works for KPI, an SEO specialist.
• Bolt Insurance has produced a great infographic on customer service here: