As most affiliates work to establish themselves as a brand, it’s worth putting more emphasis on the customer service of businesses they opt to promote.
Since affiliates are not the actual sellers of a product or service, they don’t always consider the quality of the customer service of the retailers they work with. But similar to the manner in which affiliates choose to represent a brand can have an impact on the brand itself, it cuts the other way as well. Affiliates working with brands that have less-than-stellar reputations for customer service could actually end up negatively affecting the affiliate’s brand.
That’s because often the experience of buying through an affiliate link is so seamless that consumers don’t differentiate between the affiliate and the brand. So, if something goes wrong there may be some people looking to blame the affiliate.
Satisfaction is Job 1
Customer satisfaction plays an important role within business. It is the leading indicator to measure customer loyalty, identify unhappy customers, reduce churn and increase revenue. It’s also also a key point of differentiation that helps businesses to attract new customers in competitive business environments.
And keeping a current customer is valuable. According to White House Office of Consumer Affairs, on average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase. Some research says that it is 6-7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep a current one. Econsultancy data shows that around 70% of marketers say it costs less to retain a customer than it does to acquire a new one.
Additionally, social media has given a voice to those that are dissatisfied. According to data from New Voice Media, 59% of people share poor customer experiences online. On the flip side, happy, satisfied customers become the repeat buyers who keep your business alive and well. They also bring new customers your way. American Express noted that one satisfied customer can equal up to nine referrals. And data from Temkin Group suggests that companies with happy customers have as much as a 16% advantage over competitors in consumers’ willingness to buy, reluctance to switch brands, and likelihood of recommending them.
So when looking to promote offers from a business, here are some things that affiliates can do related to customer service:
Social media – Check out the social media accounts of the business. Look for how they publically respond to complaints – both the tone and how quickly they react. Also, do searches on each social media platform for what people are saying about the brand. This can be a good indicator as to issues that may crop up in the future.
Be a customer – It’s always a good idea to put yourself in the customer’s shoes. One way to do that is to make a purchase and see how smoothly – or not – the process is. Even if you don’t have an issue with the product, you can also call the customer service line. Ask some questions to see what kind of response you get. Is it a live human? A chat bot? This lets you evaluate a typical customer service experience.
Check their website – Review the retailer’s website to see if they prominently display a contact information and a customer service number. You want to make sure there is an easy way for customers to contact the brand in the event there is a problem.
Know the policies – Check out the retailer’s policies. Do they accept returns? What are the guarantees/warranties they offer? Read the fine print and make sure you are okay with all the policies for replacement or repair and liability.
Ask questions – It’s perfectly acceptable to ask the affiliate contact about customer satisfaction. Does the company measure satisfaction? Conduct regular surveys? Is the feedback taken seriously? Are changes actually implemented? What happens if you get caught in the crossfire of an angry consumer? These are all questions that you should ask before promoting an online retailer.
Understanding how those you work with resolve customer disputes and work to improve customer satisfaction can only help you select partners to promote that will benefit your business and increase the loyalty of your customers.