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As companies are becoming more customer-focused, it’s crucial for customer-facing teams to align with other teams in the organization. However, in most cases, support teams work in silos and do not collaborate enough with teams like marketing, design or product. This makes it harder for the support team to share lessons learned from customers for product success.
The ways customers reach out to companies has completely changed in the past few years. A large chunk of customers are turning towards social media to voice their complaints and concerns. This makes alignment between the marketing and support team a key. In this article, we look at the different ways the marketing and customer support teams can collaborate. We’ve divided it under four broad categories:
The customer support team represents your brand and values in many ways. When you make it easy for your customers to reach you, support also becomes an acquisition channel because they handle queries from prospective customers. The way they handle queries from your existing customers is also a clear indicator of your brand experience.
1. Engagement on Social Media
According to the Sprout Social Index, 90 percent of surveyed consumers have used social media in some way to communicate with a brand. The communication is usually for customer support, product queries or complaints. Traditionally social media accounts are handled by the marketing team. While they are the appropriate team to do it, providing direct access to the support team can also be beneficial, especially when you promise support through social channels.
There are a lot of tools in the market that help you track conversations on social media. It also saves you the trouble of sharing credentials for each account manually. For example, LiveChat allows you to integrate Facebook Messenger so that the support team can answer customer queries directly from the tool.
Sales and Marketing
You’ve created an amazing product. But that’s not enough. You’ll need to tell your brand story and sell it too.
2. Customer acquisition
According to the American Express 2017 Customer Service Barometer report - “More than half of Americans have scrapped a planned purchase or transaction because of bad service.” When customers are happy, they are more likely to speak about your brand with their friends, family and colleagues. Outstanding customer support is also a key differentiator when it comes to acquiring customers.
About 86% of customers are ready to pay up to 25% more in order to get a better customer service experience.
Raghav Kumar, the Head of Customer Marketing at CleverTap shared:
At CleverTap, we're big on customer advocacy. We ensure to give a shout out to our clients whenever possible – from world records to award wins and more. With customer success being the face of the company once a contract is closed, they are our ears to the ground and keep the marketing updated on the latest news about each client.
3. Building the right target audience
Identifying the right target audience is crucial when it comes to developing an effective marketing or communication strategy. They form the backbone of any successful marketing plan. So whether you’re writing a piece of content, crafting an outreach email or adding a product feature, the target audience is what helps you arrive at the right decisions.
Insights from the customer support team can be helpful in building different custom personas. If you’re having trouble finding your ideal customers, here’s what you can try:
1. Try connecting with your users personally, this is a powerful way to understanding them and the use case better. Not only will you be able to create a customer persona, you might also learn feature ideas that you can add to your product later.
2. Conducting a survey can also reveal a lot of information regarding your customers. This is the reason why you’ll find organizations pushing surveys all the time. For surveys, try using a modern tool like Survey Monkey or Typeform. These tools will help you to streamline the process.
In both instances you can make use of the support team, since they are closer to the action. They can easily help you connect with potential customers and collect surveys.
“The most important thing to remember is you must know your audience.“ - Lewis Howes, author of School of Greatness.
4. Crafting the right customer stories
At Exotel, customer stories have played a crucial role in our marketing efforts. But this wouldn’t have been possible without the efforts of our customer support team. They help us to identify the customers for the story to ensure that we speak to the right person and get all the information we need. This empowered us to not only come out with some engaging customer stories but also bring out these stories faster and more consistently.
If you're looking to craft customer stories, follow these steps:
1. Prepare a list of companies that would make a perfect fit for these stories. This would depend on three factors, the size of the company, their use cases, and the industry.
2. Share the list to the customer support team, so that they can connect you with the right person. To make things easier for the support team, prepare a template that the support team can use.
A few best practices to follow during execution:
1. It’s good to share a link to an existing customer story in the email body. This will give your customers an idea about what to expect during the call.
2. Once the initial draft is ready, make sure to run it past your customer to ensure that you’ve captured the essence of their journey.
3. Ensure that the customer understands that you appreciate them taking out time to share their success story and experience with you. Send a small token of your appreciation or even offer them extra credits.
This makes the content more relatable for the end reader, as there might be a lot of "Aha moments" when they get an industry peer's perspective. And a lot of those "Aha moments" are because of the customer success team being able to clearly communicate them to both the customer, and the marketing team.
5. Creating actionable content
Let’s face it, many of the content pieces companies produce, be it from startups or enterprises serve no real value to the customer.
Garet Moon, CEO of CoSchedule in his book “10x Marketing Formula” says:
The internet is noisy, and it gets louder every day. The supply of content from people, places, and businesses is a glut, at best.
So what can companies do to stand out?
One powerful way of producing actionable content is to get help from the support team. They are perfectly placed to understand customer problems, product usage and more. This will help you create content that is tailored to customer needs.
This isn’t limited to blog ideas but is also useful for resource pages like FAQs and help centers. For example, let’s assume many customers reach the support team with the same question. In such a case, to reduce the number of customer queries, you could create a support article or an FAQ addressing the issue.
A company's brand is more than just the logo. It’s the identity of the organization. According to Seth Godin: “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer's decision to choose one product or service over another.”
6. Brand Positioning
Brand positioning is what differentiates your brand from others. Consistent messaging plays a huge role in brand positioning.
For example, it’s crucial that the product expectations set by the marketing team are realistic. Often, claims made in marketing campaigns don’t hold true. As a result, unhappy customers come back to the support team with their grievances. So it’s important to track such instances and make the needed modifications.
This will not only prevent customer churn but will also help set healthy customer expectations.
A customer’s journey starts as soon as they land on the website. In the case of most SaaS products, it usually starts with scheduling a demo or opting for a free trial. This gives customers a chance to test the product and make an informed decision. Let’s look at some critical steps of the customer’s journey and how the support team’s inputs can help create a smoother experience.
7. Improving Customer Onboarding
The onboarding process is critical for any Saas company. Usually, the marketing team plays a significant role in creating a good onboarding experience. This includes a welcome email, product tutorial, documentation, FAQs and much more. In many cases, customer feedback or grievances can be very crucial in improving the customer onboarding process.
To share an example, at Exotel, we received a lot of support tickets where customers wanted to extend their trial. We found that for many customers, the 15–day period wasn’t enough to completely try our product. Hence to streamline the process and reduce the number of support tickets, we started to send an email asking customers if they wanted to extend the trial (after the 15–day period). After making this change, we found a lot of people opting for the extension which helped customers try out the product, hence improving conversions.
Customer support is not a cost center
I hope you found the article interesting. In a time where the support team is mostly looked upon as a cost center, the article makes it clear how support team’s collaboration with teams can help in business success. If you’re serious about retaining customers and growth, the collaboration between the support and marketing teams is crucial. The same applies for other teams like sales and product.
Do you have any advice you want to share? Drop them in the comments below.