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October 20, 2014

4 Steps for Creating Brand Evangelists with Customer Service

By TMCnet Special Guest
Sara Varni, Vice President of Marketing,

Many people think customer service is just about answering questions — how a product works, when the next version will come out, why a delivery is late. But for small and medium businesses, it is so much more. It’s one of the most powerful and cost-effective ways for you to drive loyalty and repeat business, and generate word-of-mouth. Great customer service can help you build an army of brand evangelists that can do more for your business than any high-priced ad campaign.

Here are four steps for using customer service to build your evangelist army:

1.    Load your arsenal.

The first step in recruiting evangelists starts within. You need to clearly articulate your brand. Know who you are and what your values will be. Establish a distinctive voice.  It takes a little time but it’s worth it to create a playbook that everyone can work from. You can’t expect employees to be ambassadors for your brand if they don’t know what it is! Once you’ve determined what your brand will be you need to build excitement about it among your team and make sure that your brand philosophy flows into every customer interaction. Like Barkbox, which offers a dog treat and product subscription service. The company has a clearly articulated brand that employees are enthusiastic about sharing.

2.    Arm everyone on the front lines.

It’s easy to think that interacting with customers is confined to the customer service team. Not true! Everyone that works with customers needs to be educated on the brand. That’s sales, service, marketing, and accounting. Even the receptionist that might pick up the phone when a customer calls. The best way for them to become comfortable sharing the brand is to make working with customers a part of your onboarding process. Even better, make it a part of everyone’s job on a regular basis. Like Formstack, a fast-growing company that lets anyone build advanced online forms with a simple web-based interface, where every employee collaborates to help solve cases.

3.    Keep your eyes on the battlefield.

In today’s social, mobile world everything that you do is amplified.  Brands can be built or destroyed in a day with social media. This summer a recording of an agent at a large cable company that refused to terminate service for a customer went viral —and more than 5 million people listened. Small businesses need to make sure that their service team is vigilant on every channel. And that they respond with speed, accuracy, and a positive attitude on social ones. Like digital music service Rdio which uses social networks to get to know customers so they see their sentiment, reach, and — more importantly —treat every customer like a valued friend.

4. Recruit customers to the fight.

We all know that customers are your best evangelists, and that word of mouth is the most valuable marketing there is. Don’t just wait for it to happen. Both consumer and B2B products can build a community. Your efforts can range from online message boards to hosting meet ups or other events. Or you can take advantage of social channels to engage customers in fun ways.  Use social networks to create unique opportunities for them to interact with your brand. Like Susty Party, which makes compostable, sustainable, disposable party tableware. The company encourages customers to share their tableware on social networks and shows appreciation by saying “Party On!”

Once you have your evangelist army in place you need to maintain it. Never stop fighting for awesome customer service. Check in regularly with your team and your customers to know what issues are hot and never give up on providing an amazing support experience. Make sure every customer service experience is special, every time.

Sara Varni leads marketing for's all-in-one customer service app for fast-growing companies. Attracting leading customer-oriented brands such as Yelp (News - Alert), SnapChat, Fitbit, Bonobos, and Disqus, has become known as the savvy customer support app that connects agents with e-mail, phone calls, and social channels. Prior to this role, Sara led marketing for the Salesforce AppExchange, the #1 enterprise app marketplace. As an early member of the AppExchange team, Sara helped hundreds of partners, large and small, launch seven figure cloud businesses. Under her leadership, the site boasts 1,800+ apps and is leveraged by 70% of the Fortune 100. In her previous roles, Sarah developed expertise working with many partners to build effective go-to-market strategies for the cloud, where she focused on how to drive installs for large departments and companies, versus one end-user at a time. Sara is able to leverage best practices that she has seen across all partner types, start-ups, large established companies and vertical-focused players from her six years in building the ecosystem.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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