The Convergence That Really Counts: Marketing and Customer Service
I frequently get roped into discussions about the supposed convergence between advertising technology and marketing technology. Maybe it is because I have spent so much of my career straddling the two businesses. But that doesn’t interest me as much as the impending convergence between customer service and marketing — because customer service is marketing.
Marketing is responsible for creating the proper customer experience, start to finish. Just a few years ago, customer experience efforts focused solely on outbound-oriented events. But today, the inbound effort is just as critical as marketing’s outbound reach. The customer experience is not only about getting to a purchase: It is also about the delivery, use and ongoing loyalty of a customer — which inevitably creeps into the realm of customer service.
Adaptive marketers — those who are committed to staying one step ahead of individual customers with the right message — are starting to work more closely with their customer service counterparts to create a more positive customer experience across the board. Some really cool examples include:
- Passing data from a Web visit to the call center, so the rep can immediately help the caller. With this set up, a customer can pick up where they left off on the site.
- Upsell offers presented by call center agents, based on the trip already booked or the one being booked at the time.
- Post-purchase surveys asking the customer to rate their experience. (NOTE: Some of these include cross-sell offers, too.)
The marketing/customer service convergence is a trend that we are seeing more and more — but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to accomplish. Often, there are lines that companies struggle to cross internally to get an initiative like this started. For you marketers out there who want to get started on this, here are some thoughts on initiating the conversation:
- Do some quick customer analysis to help illustrate the point. For example, pass data from the Web interaction to the call center. In one real example, a client marketer was able to increase customer renewals by 35 percent in the first month.
- Hold a meeting with your customer service counterparts and ask them how it might work with their system. Engage them in the solution to this problem.
- Start planning — and start asking. What data do we need? Who has it? How do we come up with the rules of engagement? What is the measure of success?
- Execute together, as a team.
The key is starting. Like I said, that’s not always as simple as it sounds. But the opportunities are out there in your ecosystem. Start with small victories that pay off for both customer service and marketing. Build a bridge between the two. Help customer service get data-smart: Show them the connection between data, their success and the bottom line.
The marketing and customer service convergence is a direct route to improving the customer experience. Yes, data is the glue that holds this sometimes complex relationship together with insights that drive action on both inbound and outbound fronts. But the customer’s focus is just on their own experience: Recognition, receiving the right offer at the right time and feeling valued by a well-orchestrated team will be remembered. And that is customer service done right.
Jeff Hassemer is chief strategy officer at Alterian, an Adaptive Customer Experience company where marketers gain the power to maximize customer opportunity in milliseconds, allowing brands to stay one step ahead of individual customers with the right message no matter where or when they interact.