Customers need support first, blogs later

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I used to be an e-mail marketing manager for a large publisher. I recall staying late waiting on copy, updating our distribution lists and working weekends. That's all part of the job, and my team and I always enjoyed such challenges. It was rewarding when we would look at the reports after the fact and see our success.

However, there were times when everything wasn't peachy keen with our e-mail services. In the world of online publishing, this happens. The industry is constantly evolving and sending strategies seem to change as much as I change my surfboards when a good swell comes in. Standard blueprints in our industry are long gone. I get it. What I don't get is the inability to build a strong customer support relationship, when this is more important now than ever.

I'd like to share an example of a poor customer support experience I had last year when I held that role.  Like many publishers, we worked with more than one ESP. One day we were having issues with one of our providers. Deployments were taking days to complete and list uploads were taking 24 hours.  Two crucial processes in e-mail marketing.

I did what any customer would do. I contacted my account rep. No response. I must have contacted him five times in two weeks to no avail. Finally, I get an email from said rep. I don't think I have ever been so excited or angry to see an email. It read, “I have great news, my new blog is up, check out my recent post.”  Are you kidding me?  I eventually tracked down someone at the ESP and had a heated conversation. We were up and running on a new provider two weeks later.

I am on the other side now, working for an ESP in a sales and marketing role. I always keep in mind that awful experience. My boss tells me that “email is still a terrific channel, but even with better technology, it's gotten harder and more complex.” This is spot on. In order for customers to succeed, they need to be with a service provider that supports them through the good and the bad.

ESPs must develop relationships with customers and truly get to know their needs. We all want our customers to succeed. If there are problems, keep them updated. If things are going well, check in with them. It is important to have an open channel with your customers. This is essential, too, for account reps. After you close the deal, don't forget about your new client. It's a simple strategy that ensures success.

And if time permits, then you can blog.

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