There is an unspoken rule online that one has to offer visitors to blogs and websites a Freebie. Many companies do offer a free report, tutorial, trial, or a no frills version of their products. But I think as many have forgotten the marketing reason behind offering the freebie.
The purpose behind the freebie is to give interested people a taste. It is to get them familiar with what you have to offer in order to woo them to want more of what they just tasted. The marketing objective is to move them from a lukewarm prospect into a loyal customer.
But this wooing process falls apart if there is no customer service for prospects (a.k.a. freebie users) or worse when the support is offered, but it comes a full 24 hours after a reported online problem with the product. Then it is a unsatisfying experience that costs you a customer.
You had them. Then you did something stupid and you lost them.
This happened to me the other day. I had a problem with a free third-party Facebook application. I reported it to the company and asked for assistance. They had me sign-up for the customer support (a process that aggravates me to no end) and then I got to wait. I received an email saying my problem was being assigned and I could check the support site to find out if they had an answer for me. I checked. I waited and I checked. And then I acted.
I dumped their product and used another, less sexy product to get the job done. It took me about an hour to make the switch and to test the new product. I now had peace of mind that my problem was solved.
I heard from customer support 24 hours after I asked for help.
24 bloody hours! For an online product application!
I may still have an account with them, but I’m going to be far less eager to use their product in the future – even if it is free.
For many, online marketing is just a numbers game. Get a lot of folks to try your stuff and hope a certain percentage stick.
But the art of marketing is not a simple numbers game. The way a company runs its customer service (which is a critical part of the marketing process) tells a prospect everything they need to know about the management of that company. It communicates silently, yet like a bull horn, how much management cares or doesn’t care about people who sign on to try their widget, service, application.
Give freebie users short shrift in support and you risk negative word-of-mouth and a lost customer for life. Your product no longer matters.
This a law of marketing and it is as it should be.
What is your customer service like? How are you treating your prospects?
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