It’s a sentiment that many share, “Marketing is the promise one makes in order to get another person to buy something.” And, in the land of Home Improvement, there is marketing aplenty. “Buy 3 Windows, Get 1 FREE!” Or, “Call TODAY and we’ll double your tax credit!” And my favorite: “Buy your sunroom NOW and enjoy your FREE wicker furniture set TODAY!” Seriously… wicker?
However, in this down economy, less and less conventional marketing can be afforded due to declining revenues. Consequently, the buzz phrase “Customer service is the new marketing” has found a foothold in many business conversations.
And it’s completely plausible. Talk is cheap, and no marketer would argue that word of mouth referrals are not a thing to be highly coveted. After all, lead cost is nominal, perhaps a small referral fee to the referrer… Plus, the probability of converting a sale is much better than, say, a Yellow Page prospect.
But does all of this honestly mean that customer service is the NEW marketing? Perhaps when the glitz of TV spots and the glam of magazine spreads are gone, some businesses are only left with the option of re-dedicating themselves to the ideal of treating a customer the right way. Too little too late?
I maintain that a down economy is only part of the reason some companies are currently on hard times. It’s the very lack of customer service that has been the primary force for many a downturn. Solid companies with ethical practices are still thriving and marketing even in these uncertain times.
Same-day-only discounts and other high pressure sales gimmicks are usually the harbingers of what is to come after signing a contract with an unscrupulous home improvement outfit. Poor communication, delays in installation and lack of proper service after the sale are certain to follow.
Therefore, it’s prudent to inspect all details from the very onset. Request all warranties in writing. Inspect every aspect of the itemized contract (accept nothing scrawled on the back of a business card). And don’t be sheepish about requesting customer referrals who can speak on the contractor’s behalf.
Customer Service is the new marketing? On the contrary, customer service is the very fundamental aspect of marketing… nothing new about it.