Jat Mann talks about building a relationship with customers both in the real world and online.
In my last two columns, I have discussed what branding is all about and how to ensure you can implement the key ingredients to creating a strong brand.
But there is a third dimension to branding that is often overlooked. This element is the key to unlocking part of the formula of building a solid business. The third dimension is about understanding the relationship between branding and customer service. They are two sides of the same coin which support each other and are inextricably linked.
Although branding is about setting an expectation for the right type of customers to find and buy from you, customer service is about ensuring that their expectations are fulfilled and that they come back and buy from you again.
Building a relationship with customers both in the real world and online is where the focus needs to be. In this world of consumerisation and commoditisation (particularly in IT), often the deciding factor about whether a customer will buy from you is price and reputation.
Now sadly independents will simply fail against the might of the supermarkets buying power on price alone, but they can win hands down on reputation. Reputation is built on previous customers talking about you (in positive ways hopefully) and then letting their friends and family know about it. And only by delivering great customer service in the first place will you get this ball rolling.
So my three tips for great customer service are firstly, ensure you know in your heart you can deliver on the promises you are making in your advertising and marketing. Secondly, that each customer is treated just how you'd like to be treated yourself whilst shopping or ordering a service. And thirdly, make sure you are easily contactable should the customer need to get in touch.
Become a trusted advisor and they will spread the word amongst their friends. Good old-fashioned customer service isn't really that complicated.
Jat Mann is MD of www.PCPal.co.uk. You can contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org