Why Your Employees are Your Most Important Marketing Tools

by on August 6, 2012 · 2 comments

How To Improve Customer Service

In addition to your marketing brochures, business cards and company ads, your employees should be considered your most important marketing tools. After all, these are the people you are entrusting to close those sales and to make the customers’ experience SO great that there’s no question they’ll come back to do business again.

Your printed marketing material is certainly important to use when networking and telling people about your business but this isn’t the end of your marketing efforts. Making sales is really a two-part process. You can advertise all you want about where your business is located and you can get hundreds of people to walk into your store or shop every day but showing the customer that you truly care about solving their problem (as well as having an awesome product or service) is what will close the sale.

This is Relationship Marketing

Relationship marketing simply means that you build a relationship with a potential client or customer, really learn what they need and help guide them to your product or service that will best suit their needs. Since you can’t do this all by yourself, training your employees to care about their customers should be of highest priorty.

Think about your last shopping trip and the customer service you received. Did you feel like a number, where they only cared about taking your money or did you feel like they cared about you as a person? Did anyone go ‘above and beyond’ to help you or were you left floundering on your own?

A Real-Life Case Study

My daughter is a ballet dancer and auditioned for the summer program at a very prestigious ballet company in NYC. They had a great website showcasing some of their professional dancers, lovely photos of NYC, and very impressive biographies of their instructors.

Much to our surprise and joy, she was accepted and spent 2 weeks studying under these impressive teachers and soaking in the sites and sounds of Manhattan.

Pretty picture perfect, right?

Not so much.

While the experience to an outsider looked like it was everything she had dreamed of, the lack of customer service was so abysmal that I will never, ever recommend this school to anyone else.

Here’s a run down of all their mistakes and how they could have easily been fixed:

1. Not told of extra charges.

Apparently there’s a ‘required uniform’ when you dance at this school but we weren’t told about this extra requirement until after we were accepted into the program and paid part of the tuition. OK, maybe not a huge deal to some but the ‘required uniform’ was the same exact black leotards that she already owned but these had a small school logo imprinted. This package cost nearly $150 extra.

Quick fix: simply put a page on their website explaining this requirement; have a written paragraph added to their audition sheet informing parents of this extra charge; have a notice posted at the auditions stating there was a requirement; include a note about this along with the acceptance letter.

2. No phone calls returned.

As with any product, store or school, parents will inevitably have questions and will need to reach someone rather than sending an email. My questions weren’t an emergency but after leaving 2 messages no one ever called me back, even after I sent scathing emails at the end of the program.

Quick fix: hire a customer service rep who is well-versed with the summer ballet program; train full-time employees about the importance of answering phone calls, especially when it’s parents who are calling on behalf of their children; encourage employees to come in early or work later to ensure that all phone calls are answered; don’t accept more students than you can handle.

3. Not willing to offer refunds or stand by their product.

The two-week period my daughter was there included the July 4th holiday. Nowhere on their website up until June 25th did they state that July 4th the school would be closed. In fact, when I called on June 12th to inquire about that, the girl who answered the phone told me there would be some activity that day but probably not formal classes. That turned out to be a crock because two weeks later I saw the announcement on the website.

Keep in mind, I paid for 10 days of dancing, same as everyone else who elected different weeks, but now they were only giving us 9 days of classes.

When I asked about getting a partial refund for that day, I received a 1-line response that they would NOT refund that day. I sent emails and tried calling again, all for naught.

Quick fix: figure out your schedule well ahead of time; offer a prorated price for any holidays; have someone call me to apologize for the oversight and issue a partial refund for that day. It’s OK to make mistakes!

4. No communication regarding the dancers’ schedules.

No where on their website or in their acceptance letter was it detailed that some dancers would be dancing at a different location in NYC. We figured my daughter would be dancing at the main building in Greenwich Village. Instead, we found out 2 days before from a friend, that her studios were, in fact, located in midtown.

Even at 15-years-old, my daughter would have panicked at the idea of getting from the village to midtown by herself and there were plenty of other kids whose parents dropped them at the door and then left, thinking they were at the correct studios.

Quick fix: have a page on your website or send the information with the acceptance letter including the address of this 2nd location and how to read the schedule to figure out which location you should go to.

5. No administrative person at this 2nd off-site location.

My daughter had some questions regarding her level placement and there wasn’t a single admin person around to ask. The teachers were just there to teach but there was no phone number, cell number or any other way to reach the main people in charge.

Quick fix: have an admin person located at this 2nd location, at least while people arrive in the morning in case there are questions; have a phone number posted for the dancers to call if they have questions or problems.

Can you see why I will never ever send my daughter back to this school? They didn’t care about her…they just cared about the money we were paying and I blame the employees.

Your Employees Can Make Or Break a Sale

As you can see from my rant above, had I gotten some form of human contact or recognition, I might not be so jaded in my opinion about this school. All it would have taken was one or 2 phone calls to have my questions answered kindly and politely (the one girl who told me the erroneous information was arrogant and acted like I was bothering her. Hello? Aren’t you getting paid to answer the phone?)

Instead, they either are understaffed or accepted far too many dancers in their program to accommodate all the questions. This was a massive customer service fail but I have a feeling they are just too arrogant to notice or care.

I would hate for any of your customers to feel this way about your business so please understand just how important it is to hire good, reliable and friendly employees and give them customer service training. They are the last stop before walking out empty-handed or making a purchase.

ps – that ‘required uniform’ that she needed? It arrived exactly 3 weeks AFTER her classes ended! You can’t make this stuff up!

Customer Service Infographic
Via: Bolt Insurance

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Christina is the Content Manager at Expand2Web.

Christina has written 36 articles on Expand2Web

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Travis Van Slooten August 6, 2012 at 8:50 am

I love this post. When I assess potential clients to work with, the first thing I look for is what others are saying about them online. If I see a lot of negative reviews and comments, I’m very reluctant to work with them. I don’t particularly like to help poorly run businesses get more traffic and potential sales when I know in the end the customer will likely have a bad experience. Second, there is a high likelihood that these businesses will not be happy with my services because I’ll get blamed for not being able to increase their sales. At the very least, I tell these types of businesses that I can only do so much. I can get them more visibility and traffic but it’s ultimately up to the business to make the sale and to get repeat business.

Travis Van Slooten

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Dr. Jeri August 11, 2012 at 7:24 am

Nice article. Success in business comes from the inside out, not outside in. You can’t spend enough in marketing to make up for poor customer service.

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