Customer Service and ‘Going the Extra Mile’ Marketing

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One of our themes has been a little tough to explain to certain buyers — our Ecommerce Theme. It’s hard I think simply because it’s an educational process of trying to explain that it’s simply a web template designed to look and feel like an online store and allow users to use WordPress to create and manage their storefronts.

Whoa, that’s a lot of explainer … and I have to admit, for a lot of these emails it’s explaining to our prospective customers what and how ecommerce itself works.

(And yes, I’m working on a better sales site that helps the customer and also so I’m not answering the same questions over and over and over again.)

Anyway, in the process of explaining it to a customer who emailed, he replied back and said:

“Your going the extra mile for me certainly gives me a good impression of your company! I really appreciate your most recent email.”

One thing I’ve found tried hard to improve and even change is that whole “going the extra mile” part. As a former freelancer, I put everything into hours. I got paid by the hours put into the projects. So if the client had changes or other issues, it all went on the clock.

But the hard part about transitioning to selling goods is that I still think in billable hours.

I’m thinking about this in particular response to questions I feel are outside of what’s included in the sales price.

To help with these questions of course, we’ve produced an extensive FAQs section, free tutorial videos and an active support forum. But because I like to personally answer emails as fast as I can (during my workday, I answer within 15 minutes sometimes) and “go the extra mile,” I don’t ever want to just say, “Read our FAQs” or “Go to the forums.” That’s terrible customer service of course.

But as I’ve been transitioning my mind and habits away from the billable hour scenario into focused and personal customer service aspect, I’ve been reminded that going the extra mile has so many tangible and intangible benefits … namely:

1. Once in a while, if you got the extra mile, customers will rave about you on their blogs, not to mention the word-of-mouth mileage that you might not be able to track. My best bud Brian Gardner is one of the best ever at this! He’s taught me a lot about being customer focused.

2. If you’ve communicated well with your customer, especially in the pre-sales stage, then you should theoretically reduce the unhappiness factor and increase the happiness factor with your product. (I.e. refunds decrease)

3. You can use this real-time research to refine and improve your sales process. For instance, the questions I get about our Ecommerce Theme are helping me fine-tune our website copy to those who aren’t familiar with how WordPress works. This is gold for a marketer if you have the right perspective. I’ve used these type of emails to create new features, add excellent questions to our FAQs that I overlooked, and put myself into the customers shoes to help them find the solution to the problems.

4. Going the extra mile isn’t just for startups. We’re a startup. And it would be super easy for us to value “extra mile” service now in our early stages as we seek to grow, then forget once we’re “mature.” But this has got to be part of our company’s DNA from now on. And we need to get better at it, because, frankly, it can be one of the most efficient, powerful sales and marketing tools ever!

Here’s to Extra Mile Marketing!

Update: Here’s a CEO who posts his cell phone number for his customers!

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