Marketing Efforts Are Worthless Without the Backing of Strong Customer Service

Don’t get so caught up in the return on investment of your marketing dollars that you neglect what truly draws customers to your business

Marketing Efforts Are Worthless Without the Backing of Strong Customer Service

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With Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Google Local Services, and the myriad marketing avenues and options out there, it’s easy to get caught up in the return on investment (ROI). We track our efforts because we want to know what’s working and what’s not. Where we should ramp up our spending or shut it down. That’s smart, but sometimes business owners lose sight of one thing that matters even more than ROI: return on service (ROS).

As a service professional, you can throw money at your marketing, but if you aren’t delivering the best service, that money is wasted. It may help you stand out and get that initial call, but if your customer is greeted by an unpleasant and unhelpful office manager, no one answers the phone or calls them back, or they have a terrible experience once you’re actually in their home, they’re not going to give you a second chance. You’ll be paying for transactions, instead of relationships, which isn’t ultimately going to be very lucrative. That’s why you need to take some time off from an obsession with ROI to look at ROS.

How many plumbers within 25 miles of you have some sort of claim like “best plumber” on their trucks, websites, or other marketing materials? For the customer, that claim is just that — a claim. How many bests can there really be? Customers know that, in order to determine who the best really is, they have to look beyond the marketing message.

Where do customers find the proof to confidently make a decision? Most of them head online to see what reviews say or ask their friends, family, and neighbors which plumber they recommend. Will reviews and referrals bring your name to the top or have you been too busy worrying about surfacing at the top of search results to deliver the type of service that earns those 5-star reviews and referrals?

Investing in the right marketing is a great strategy for growing your business, and as the owners of a marketing business, we would never tell you otherwise. But a mistake is made when service takes a backseat to marketing. You have to get your business right and perfect the customer experience before you start feeding money into your marketing.

Let’s look at some stats from Help Scout’s 75 Customer Service Facts, Quotes & Statistics:

  • Seven out of 10 U.S. consumers say they’ve spent more money to do business with a company that delivers great service.
  • Increasing customer retention rates by 5 percent increases profits anywhere from 25 to 95 percent.
  • It is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep a current one.
  • A moderate increase in “customer experience” generates an average revenue increase of $823 million over three years for a company with $1 billion in annual revenues.
  • U.S. consumers are willing to spend 17 percent more to do business with companies that deliver excellent service.

So where’s the real money, the real return? In service. When you deliver the best possible service to each and every customer, your customers will stick around beyond the transaction and rely on you when they need work done in the future. And the best part is they’ll market your business for you by writing great reviews and telling their families and friends that you really are the best — it’s not just a catchphrase or a claim. 

ROS Boosting Tips

How can you boost your ROS and ensure your customers get the very best service, each and every time?

1. Hire intentionally. Your employees are the face of the business and an extension of you, so you need to make sure they have a heart for service and will treat the customer right. When adding to your team, it’s easy to get hyper focused on the experience, training, and technical skills of the potential hire, but don’t ignore the big things, like attitude, personality, and personal culture/core values. It’s easier to train someone than it is to change their attitude, so hire slowly and intentionally, and make sure that heart for service is present.

2. Put systems in place/develop standard operating procedures (SOP). Consistency is usually a challenge for businesses, and that can be especially true as the company grows. Maybe you have a rock star tech who’s mentioned in 90 percent of your 5-star reviews, but you have other techs who either don’t get reviews or can’t seem to get more than 3 stars. While you can’t clone that rock star, you can clone his or her processes and ways of doing things and make those systems a part of every service, performed by every tech. Spend some time developing systems and SOPs that your employees can follow on the job to ensure customers receive exceptional service, consistently, no matter who makes the service call.

3. Go above and beyond. While not just anyone can do the work you do, your competitors likely can. What are you doing that goes above and beyond the service itself and creates a memorable and remarkable customer experience? Read your online reviews and your competitors’ online reviews and figure out what’s important to your customers. Where are they longing for more? Use that knowledge to determine what you can do to go the extra mile for your customers and leave impressed. It doesn’t have to be an expensive or even creative difference — keep your eyes and ears open and look for opportunities to wow every single customer.

4. Deliver on your word. Follow through on your promises. If you’re marketing yourself as the “fastest,” “cleanest,” or “most professional” plumber in your area, make sure that’s coming across on the job. If you deliver a level of service that’s inconsistent with the expectation you’ve created for your customer, you’re going to have a disappointed customer who doesn’t trust you. And without trust, there is no loyalty.

Ready to ramp up your marketing spend and reap real returns? Make sure your service is on point first so your customers will consistently turn to you when they need your services and tell others you’re the only plumber they need to know. Then you can confidently use your marketing as a spotlight, without worrying about what that light will expose.

About the Authors

Carter Harkins and Taylor Hill are the co-founders of Spark Marketer, a Nashville, Tennessee-based digital marketing company that works primarily with service businesses. They’re also the co-hosts of the "Blue Collar Proud (BCP) Show," a podcast that’s all about having and living the blue collar dream, and the co-authors of the book, Blue Collar Proud: 10 Principles for Building a Kickass Business You Love. Both regularly speak at service industry trade shows and conferences across the nation. Visit or


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