Why “Free” Should Still Go the Extra Mile

Photo cred: David a.k.a. Darkmatter
Photo cred: David a.k.a. Darkmatter

Customer service can the single most powerful weapon a brand has to create loyalty, evangelism and a positive reputation within their community.  Today, every single customer has the power to share their experiences with people that could possibly be future customers.

A customer is increasingly likely to share their experience when it is either really good OR really bad.  If you’re doing just enough to help them, without taking the initiative to really send them away floating, that’s fine, but don’t expect them to go sharing their story.

Now what if you’re a free service.  You take in no revenues, whatsoever.  Should you engage in customer service?

Customer service should ALWAYS be a concern of every business, brand, tool, whatever…whether or not your service is free.

You certainly don’t want users to have a bad customer service experience.  For whatever reason, you’re offering your service free of charge, but I’m going to assume you still want it to be successful.  You’d like to have a lot of users, and create value for those users, no?

The extent of how much you can commit, or invest money into, is obviously going to be limited if you’re a free service.  The last thing you want is for your user’s voices to go unheard, or worst, heard and responded to poorly.

If you do nothing though, you’re not only missing an opportunity to create loyalty and evangelism, but you also risk building a bad reputation within your community, or target audience.  Free or not, if you want to be successful, customer service is absolutely necessary.

I know some people disagree with me… If you have any thoughts, agree or disagree, please share…

EDIT: Thanks to Brazen Careerist for featuring my post.  I thought it would be a good idea to link to it here because there were a lot of really good comments over there. Check it out.

4 thoughts on “Why “Free” Should Still Go the Extra Mile

  1. David,

    I agree 100 percent! Customer service goes a long way in any job you are at. In the PR world we have to give our customers/clients the best service we can. Unfortunately,I believe people are more likely to spread the word when they have received poor customer service rather than good service. However, I think customers who are loyal are more inclined to take the good and the bad if the customer service has a reputation for being good.

    After spending several years in retail, which I hope I never have to do again, I have seen the truth in your blog and can honestly say customer service is a very strong weapon in creating loyal customers and a positive reputation. While working at a large cell phone company, an evil empire I will not name, I had to inform customers all the time they weren’t ready for a discount on a new phone, their bill was $500 over what it normally is but the company doesn’t care nor do they care you have been with them since Alexander Graham Bell invented the phone. They may have not liked the company I was working for but they liked me and the way I took care of them. From then on when the customer would come back they would wait hours just to see me and they would tell their friends about me. After about a year I had customers that I could count on to come back every month. These people purchased only from me and basically funded my education through the commission checks I earned. So I could actually say that I paid for college and a place to live through my excellent customer service.

    I don’t by any means think that retail can be compared to the wonderful worlds of PR or marketing. However, the moral of the story is that if great customer service is a part of your brand then you can’t lose. On the other hand if mediocre customer service is what you’re handing out then you may want to start looking for cheaper rent.

    Thanks,
    Elisha

  2. Customer service is absolutely necessary with any kind of business. If you want customers coming back, raving about your product, and giving you feedback the goal should be to make customers feel good. Sometimes the best advice is free advice.

  3. I agree completely. Let’s take a blog for example. Most of us don’t make money from our blogs, but we still want our readers/customers to have the best experience possible. Whatever reason you’re doing it for, focusing on a satisfying experience is a must for every ambitious business project, even if it doesn’t involves money directly.

    Your free service may turninto profit someday. but you can be damn sure that it won’t if your customers are unhappy.

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