As much as customer service is all the rage, and heralded as the new marketing, it’s still viewed as a cost-centre by most online businesses. This I believe, is entirely due to a defensive approach to customer care.
Defensive customer service can be defined as any type of reactive customer servicing such as answering calls, responding to email inquiries, or responding to live chat sessions.
Providing good defensive customer service will never result in a flood of new business for two reasons:
You will only have personal contact with a fraction of your total customers. (those who have questions, problems, etc.) Only this small segment will be impacted by your excellent service. Note the uniqueness of this situation, in a brick-and-mortar world, you do have personal contact with each and every customer.
Good service is an expectation. Yes, some companies like Zappos go above and beyond customer expectations with extraordinarily helpful service, including referring customers to competitors for products they don’t stock. But for the most part, good service is a requirement for doing business.
At it’s very best, good defensive customer service will only prevent you from losing what you already have. It will not, by itself, create hoards of new word of mouth business. Unless… you change the paradigm.