Customer Service and Using Digital Avenues to Market Your Business
September 20, 2012

by Megan Headley, mheadley@glass.com

Marketing expert Kelly McDonald was back at this year's Auto Glass Week™ due to popular demand after her informative talk last year in Memphis, Tenn.

Customer service was a big discussion point among seminars at this year's Auto Glass Week™. Among the speakers, Kelly McDonald of McDonald Marketing returned to this year's event with new tips for customer service in her seminar on "How to Keep Customers Rushing Back for More."

McDonald opened her session by sharing, "I'm really passionate about customer service because ... although you can't control the economy, you can't control the stock market ... the one thing that is in your control is the customer service experience." That experience can be improved by everyone, she said, because we all have a customer, whether that person is your boss, the team you work for or the consumers walking into your shop.

McDonald also pointed to the common thought that "customer service is dead" and pointed out that really it's just "suffering," as technology makes it easier to live in isolation. "We're losing our ability to be polite and courteous with one another," she commented.

In truth, though, the customer service landscape has simply changed. Customers no long just want to speak to a customer service representative (CSR) who is simply polite and responsive-they are seeking speed, efficiency, accuracy and personal attention as well. "The customer service bar continues to be raised higher and higher," McDonald said.

McDonald went on to highlight six key reasons why customer service matters: it makes a business more stable, it helps to grows business, it makes businesses more profitable, healthier and happier, and it helps to better brand a business.

Among the tips she offered for improving your customer service, McDonald advised that managers frequently check in with their CSRs and technicians, the people who are on the frontline interfacing with customers, to ask about the positive and negative comments they overhear about what the customer really wants. She also advised hiring those employees who show signs of outstanding service, since on-the-job training can provide skills specific to the job. You need to be selective and hire the people who match and believe in your company's vision, she advised, adding, "I find the people who are the right kind of people and figure that I can teach them the job."

In the end, excellent customer service is necessary, McDonald said, because "study after study shows that people will pay for better customer service." She added, "Other people do what you do, probably pretty well, too, so the one thing that can really differentiate you ... is customer service."

Following McDonald's presentation, Monika Baraket, an online marketing strategist with Forge3, looked at growing and maintaining a customer base through a session on "Using Digital Avenues to Market Your Business."

She began by explaining, "The bad news is that technology is confusing, and you guys don't really have a lot of time, you're busy running your business. … The good news is that business hasn't really changed, the tools that you're using have changed."

Baraket noted that today's consumer is "already empowered with a lot of information before they even walk through your door or pick up the phone." Using digital avenues such as social media can help those tech-savvy consumers to connect with your business as a resource. She advised that auto glass shops considering jumping into social media first pick one platform, such as Facebook or Twitter, and observe what works and what doesn't. However, she cautioned, "Having a presence to just to have it can hurt you more than not being on these social media platforms."

Baraket also added that a social media strategy should be just one piece of a marketing plan, and should tie into the strategy you have already in place. In deciding what platform to use, she suggested contacting customers with a brief survey to first see where they are and what their needs might be. The biggest suggestion, however, was to focus on outlining strong content.

Baraket suggested thinking outside the box, providing information not just about repairing windshield chips or replacement information, but also information about glass cleaning or fun photos of things seen on the job or even a joke of the day that might draw readers into continuously checking your site and staying connected to your community.

Baraket finished by explaining that social media has slow but powerful growth, and encouraged her audience to be patient as they connected to their audience through these new tools.

Look for more coverage of the 2012 Auto Glass Week™ in the November/December issue of AGRR™ magazine.

This story is an original story by AGRR™ magazine/glassBYTEs.com™. Subscribe to AGRR™ Magazine.
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