Most companies have many different departments, like sales, human resources, marketing, customer service, and so on. Not so long ago, we didn't care that much about how they communicated with each other. A steady flow of information, or ways in which the work of one department influenced another, were aspects we were unconcerned with. All of that has been gradually changing over the years. Today, a business or organization that wants to thrive requires smooth cooperation between all of those departments. I've worked in hospitality and marketing, and lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how the relationship between the latter and customer service is a two-way street.
Social media and how it influences customer service and marketing
Technology and the internet have drastically changed the world over the last few decades. Customer service is no exception. I’m probably too young to remember, but it wasn’t so long ago when you could only contact customer service departments in person or over the phone.
Then, the internet happened, and it started transforming customer service to its current form. The number of channels used to connect with customer service agents started increasing with email, live chat, and contact forms becoming more and more significant.
It wasn’t until social media grew the number of their users to millions, and eventually billions, that we saw the biggest change in how businesses communicate with their customers. I wouldn’t say social media turned the whole thing upside down, but it impacted customer service in ways no other channel has ever done before.
Companies had to adapt to a new reality. Bad customer reviews or complaints are not a matter of a conversation between just a customer and an agent anymore. Online, millions of people all over the world can see and share them. From a business standpoint, it gets even more serious when you realize seven out of 10 U.S. consumers say they’ve spent more money to do business with a company if they deliver great service.
The connection between customer service and marketing has become more important because both departments can use social media at the same time. To provide your customers with a quality experience, make sure your social media managers know the ropes of handling social media and are also capable of providing users with actionable tips on how to solve their problems.
Internal communication and its impact on a business
Integrating marketing and customer service for consistency on social media also ties in with improved internal communication in your company. If you want both departments to work to the best of their abilities, you need to keep them on the same page.
Are you about to launch a new marketing campaign? Let your customer service know about it in advance so they can prepare to answer questions that come their way.
Do the same if you plan on having promotions or sending out discount codes. You don’t want your agents to have increased response times because it turned out they had to reach out to other people in your organization to find out the information they should’ve received in advance.
On the flipside, customer service reps can gather the information that will help the marketing team with planning future messaging more effectively. After all, it’s customer service that’s on the front line of your organization and has first-hand knowledge of what customers truly want.
Buyer personas and ways to improve them
Creating buyer personas seems like a daunting process when you’re starting out. You’ll feel like it’s impossible to compile thousands of customers into just a few models that you’re going to base your communication on. However, the more time you spend analyzing the data of your customers, the easier it’s going to be to create your personas.
On top of the data about your customers that you can find in your CRM, customer service conversations are a treasure trove that will provide the marketing department with information necessary to complement detailed buyer personas. When you understand the needs of your customers, and combine those needs with general information like demography, occupation, interests, etc., it’ll be much easier to send a clear message that will resonate with your target audience.
If you want to go a step further, you can also let your customers shape your product or service. Use email, live chat, or polls to ask people what they would change in your offer. Not only will it give them a sense of belonging to your brand and community, but it will also increase loyalty and make them think twice if they ever consider switching to a competitor.
Retention, churn, and how to keep them under control
Marketing and customer service also share common ground when it comes to customer retention. According to the Harvard Business Review, acquiring a new customer can be five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one. This is precisely why customer service and marketing need to complement each other.
On the one hand, marketing needs to ensure they attract the right customers. If they bring in leads that are not a good fit for the company, customer retention is likely to go down as those leads will churn sooner rather than later.
On the other hand, customer service needs to do their best to help customers solve their problems. Providing poor customer service is the same as burning the cash that a marketing department spent on acquiring that customer.
Understandably, some problems require more technical support and/or reaching out to other people in the company. Even if your agents can’t solve a problem on the spot, a quick response time and being willing to help is always appreciated.
Amy Gallo, the author of the article mentioned above, rightly says that changes in retention (or churn) rates are good indicators of something working well or not so well. This ties in nicely with the idea that, “When you know that more customers or subscribers are cutting ties with your firm, you can work to adjust your marketing strategy or customer service approach.”
Keep in mind that customers churn for many reasons, and some of them will be out of your control. Your customer can be under pressure to cancel a subscription because of budget cuts, and you won’t be able to talk them out of it. Still, remember that the more marketing and customer service departments communicate with each other, the better the chances of increasing the retention rate of your business are.
Content ideas and how to inspire each other
If you’re a marketer, you probably suffer from a lack of ideas every now and then. Whether it’s a big campaign, copy for your new ad, or a blog post, sometimes you just get caught with a distant look in your eyes, searching for inspiration.
An obvious solution to that problem that we often forget about is to talk to your customer service colleagues. In some cases, they deal with customers 24/7 and listen to their pain points and suggestions. Why not make use of those and turn them into ads, explainer videos, and so on?
Also, ask your customer service reps about potential case studies. They’re the ones who know your customers inside and out and will be able to send the right customers your way. I understand that not all customers make for great case study subjects. Still, more often than not, you’ll find at least a few companies that have interesting stories to tell you. For example, about how your product helped them change their business for the better, or how it helped them make their customers’ lives easier.
Embrace the challenges together
Regardless of the industry that you operate in, the business landscape is always changing. Some of your competitors go out of business while new ones are starting up at the same time. If you want to stay a step ahead, you need to bring your “A” game at all times. Make sure your marketing and customer service departments work seamlessly. They have way more things in common than you might initially think, and having them both on the same page is one of the best things you can do for your business.