Client Services Director, Rick Jenner, wants brands to see that customer service can be one of the best sales channels any business has.

For decades customer service was seen as a unavoidable and costly necessity – people who sat in the back office processing complaints and trying to avoid customers leaving for competitors. While many companies have already realised that this is no longer the case, in many sports apparel businesses this old mindset still prevails.

A recent personal experience bears this out and without going into the details (and naming and shaming the retailer and brand) below are a few things I took from that episode:

Social media is an important customer service channel

We’ve all done it; tweeted when we’re not happy with something to try and get it rectified quickly. Most companies know this but some don’t. Not only should a post, message or tweet be considered the same as a phone call or email but the public response be treated as an opportunity to present the company positively. Just don’t treat tweeting complainants better or any differently.

A customer’s problem is everyone’s problem

A brand may feel that if a customer has bought their product from a retailer it’s their problem, but it reflects on the brand equally, both to the customer and any observers on social media.

Brands need to ensure their retailers pay as much attention to customer service as they do.

They represent them and bad experiences impact beyond the purchase relationship.

Treat problems as potential opportunities

Any customer interaction is an opportunity to influence positively, retain loyalty and drive advocacy, and complaints are no different.

Great experiences can turn detractors into advocates

Even the worst experience can become a positive one if handled well. So don’t begrudgingly replace faulty product – ensure your customer walks away happy ready to tell others how great you are.

There’s measurable value in advocacy

Customer service is no longer just a cost. Word-of-mouth advocacy has always been recognised as having the most significant impact on the behaviour of others but was difficult to quantify, despite the acknowledgement of Net Promoter Score as an indicator of brand health. But now when that advocacy is manifest and measurable on social media customer service’s impact can be attributed and resourced accordingly.

The recent wave of customer-orientated start-ups like Graze and Naked Wines do customer services excellently and are flourishing as a result. It’s time all sports retailers and brands recognised what many others know and treated this as an intrinsic part of the customer experience.

Customer experience = an opportunity for significant improvement and differentiation.


Leave a Comment