Customer Service as a Brand Touchpoint

You know it when you get it—and especially when you don’t. Good customer service. Sometimes it can be the littlest thing that delights us. When Sherwin Williams’ staff carries our paint can to the car. When the print shop includes a peppermint candy with an order. A prompt reply to a Facebook direct message. A refund for a faulty product—no questions asked. Sometimes simply doing what we say we are going to do, when we say we are going to do it can be perceived as good customer service. Brand-aligned customer service can make a huge impact. Afterall, one unhappy person may tell 9–15 people about a negative interaction while a happy consumer is likely to tell 4–6 people. Just one positive interaction can make a person brand loyal for a lifetime.

Building Brand Loyalty

Shoe shopping in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula can sometimes be limited (unless you’re in the market for winter boots, of course). Have you ever purchased shoes online from Zappos? Their free shipping (both ways), free returns, and 24-7 support help define and differentiate themselves. You can call, email, or live chat with a real human, anytime! With Zappos, customer service is a differentiator.

Time and time again we hear from students, parents, and alumni that what sets our campus apart is the people. During move-in weekend, administrators lug TVs up flights of stairs. Car stuck in the ditch? Your faculty mentor offers a ride or a push. Nowhere to go for Thanksgiving dinner? Enjoy a hot meal at the vice president’s house. That’s the norm here at Michigan Tech. These simple acts of service stem from a sense that, here, we’re humble and real. We’re all in this remote paradise together.

Service on Social Media

Volkswagen’s social media advocates get it. They are so engaged, they begin to get to “know” individual followers to the point that their interactions build upon previous dialogue. Their followers take notice. Pretty cool, right? This type of engagement requires plenty of time, human power, and a commitment to brand.

I recently tried out a new brand of protein drink after seeing a brand ambassador “enjoy” it on Instagram. Purchased a case. Had one sip. Loved it. Subscribed for weekly delivery. Within five minutes I had an email in my inbox from the cofounders, expressing their appreciation for my early adoption (the product had just launched a month prior) and requesting a brief phone chat to find out what I loved about the product and what they could do better. The email was genuine and personalized. Wow! I was blown away not only by their healthy product, but by their customer service and brand.

All touch points across all channels should align with Michigan Tech’s brand.

In University Marketing and Communications, we get no bigger bang for our brand buck than implementing a high-touch experience on social media. We personalize engagement by responding to questions using the commenter’s name, and we even “sign” our name. It’s truly a human-to-human interaction—no canned responses here! We also take the time to interact with each and every positive comment. We listen, too. If we’re getting meaningful comments or complaints, we take action—even when it falls outside our scope of work.

We treat everyone as an influencer. Remember A.S.K:

– We are authentic.
– Our responses are simple (no complex jargon here).
– We are kind.

Think beyond day-to-day interactions and how your positivity can impact Michigan Tech’s brand. Communicators, I challenge you and your team to infuse brand through your customer service.

Shannon Rinkinen
Brand Manager