Regardless of your business model, we’re all in the service business. So you can’t forget to include service marketing into your small business marketing mix as you finish your annual plan to better marketing. Let’s take a closer look at these 3 Ps of service marketing and ideas for how you can improve your service marketing.
Whether software engineers or young staff manning your cash registers, your small business is defined by your staff. You may understand the importance of hiring and training, but few small businesses look at ways beyond compensation to motivate these service employees.
In his book, Drive, Daniel Pink gives evidence that paying well pays off because it takes money “off the table” and frees you up to actually motivate your staff. Commissions, for example, often motivate employees to sell rather than solve problems. Sounds good until you think about this effect on customer retention, Yelp and TripAdvisor reviews or referrals.
Once you’ve paid employees what they’re worth, you can begin to find ways to tap into their intrinsic motivation and get them to want to do what’s best for your business and your customers. Start with ways to give your employees opportunity for Mastery, Autonomy and Purpose. Autonomy can be achieved by giving your employee the freedom to work on a project they naturally enjoy, without your input. Then give them time and education to master that task and, find ways to bring stories of how your business help improve your customers’ lives.
Staff who are intrinsically motivated to solve your customers’ problems are critical but if the processes you have in place to deliver this service don’t help them, your service marketing could be dead in the water. Mapping out the process for all the services you provide will help you identify waste, bottlenecks and, ideally, ways to improve. This process mapping can be extremely detailed and lengthy, but for most small businesses, it’s often as simple as:
- Defining the level of service you want to provide. Customer service is a choice based on your business and available resources.
- Identifying triggers that begin a specific service – a phone call, an email, etc.
- Laying out each activity, in sequence, that happens after that trigger occurs
- Assigning who is responsible for each activity
Physical evidence is simply the environment where the service occurs – online, in a store, over the phone, etc. This is where you can really differentiate you from your competition, allow you to charge a premium, for example, and will be the basis for many of your online reviews. So look for ways to improve the functionality of your website, improve your store lighting, or clean up your service vans. Whatever you do, make sure it aligns with your overall brand strategy.
With a little thought to the people who provide your customers’ service, how they do it and where it takes place, you can make a big impact on your business overall.