Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Customer Service Quote of The Day

"Follow the Leader", Featuring Jeremy Watkin

What is an effective way to collaborate with other departments to improve customer experience?

There’s no need to overcomplicate things. It always starts with relationships -- genuine, authentic relationships. Apply the same great customer service skills you use with your customers to the people within your organization.

When others come to you for assistance, stay positive and upbeat, stay away from “no,” and aim to respond with “let me see what I can do for you” instead. That way, when it’s time to improve the customer experience, you’ve laid the necessary groundwork for effective collaboration.

The next time you need to approach engineering to fix a bug, or work with marketing to improve their messaging, or get approval from finance to purchase a new piece of customer engagement technology, you’ll be glad you did the relational work up front.

Jeremy Watkin is a proven visionary leader, seasoned manager, and lifelong learner experienced in building both customer service teams and customer experience programs. 

Follow the leader: LinkedIn | Twitter

Friday, February 23, 2018

IVR: A game of "Chutes and Ladders"?

By Diana Aviles

 In my career so far, I’ve probably listened to a gazillion calls (or so it seems) in which the first 90 seconds consists of a spirited rant about the IVR. The complaints vary- from how they feel it takes too long to reach a human, to how the IVR has trouble understanding what the customer is saying.  Heck, even I have had issues with IVR’s sometimes.  My worst experience was when I called to pay my mortgage and when I would get to the actual payment part, the IVR would not understand me speaking my routing number and would hang up on me!  This occurred 4 times in a single instance before I asked my husband to take over and he was able to knock it out after 2 attempts.

The fact is – we need IVR systems in place.  Call centers require them as a method to efficiently route traffic to the correct department.  They also contain valuable data from a business intelligence standpoint.  For those of us in speech analytics, IVR Category Codes allow me to zero-in on the specific reasons a person has called to further refine listening analyses we perform.  However, let’s be honest with each other here- customers do not care about those things. They want their issue or question handled immediately and accurately. The other truth to IVR’s is that while they do a great job of routing call volume and reducing unnecessary volume with self-help options such as bill pay or even sending a hit to your cable box for you, they are certainly not perfect.  There are ways the technology can be improved to benefit both the call center and the customer.

IVR’s should not be disconnecting callers if they can’t understand the caller:
  • If you can’t understand me you should transfer me to a general agent for assistance.  Would you really want to exacerbate what may have started as only a non-to-mildly volatile situation and irritate me by dumping my call thus creating a proverbial hornet’s nest?  If there are no agents available due to the time of the call being after hours, just give me an automated message that says you have reached us after hours, please try your call again during hours of operation so we can assist you.  A customer should not feel as if they are playing a game of chutes and ladders just to pay a bill or troubleshoot a technical issue.
Improved Accent Recognition:
  • I speak with a Midwestern accent which I learned means that I am prone to raising emphasis on certain vowels like A and U.  Why this is something worth pointing out is from what I have been told, this contributes to my issues with some IVR systems.  The IVR hears my raised vowel pronunciation and cannot process my request.  Southern accents, in which words are pronounced with the drawl of a more deliberate cadence, can also complicate the IVR’s ability to detect voice. These are English speaking callers having issues- now just imagine having a thick Spanish accent while trying to navigate through an IVR!  We sometimes encounter this in SA where we have “false positives” that generate from accents.  For example in my early years of SA, we had a “Supervisor Escalation Query” that would merely hit on the word “Seven” if the speaker had a thick accent. Certainly IVR systems should be configured to understand different accents to account for such a wide array of language diversity.
 Keep It Simple Silly:
  • An IVR is designed to help route my call to the department best suited to assist me.  I understand that there are MANY self-help options available, but I also know that I wouldn’t be calling and waiting on hold if I had not already exhausted the alternative options.  This is important to be mindful of in case a customer had a bad prior experience with the self-help solution. This also may be something your organization would need to investigate to remedy.
These are just a few examples of things that can be done to enhance overall customer experience and improve the customer’s perception of the IVR system your organization uses.  The simpler we make the IVR experience for the customer the more likely customers will utilize the self-help features offered. This will benefit your organization through reducing call volume for basic tasks.

Diana Aviles is an Operations Manager with more than 5 years of Quality Assurance experience in a call center environment. Diana's objective is to simultaneously promote and educate the world of Speech Analytics with a human touch; one which further emphasizes the importance of First Call Resolution and overall customer experience.

Follow Diana on LinkedIn.

Friday Funny

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Knowledgeable Agents Are Key to Great Customer Service

By Sean Hawkins

I recently spoke with an agent for my insurance company, in the hopes of clearing up a misunderstanding concerning my policies. Well, things didn't go as easily as expected. For starters, I called the wrong the number. It seems the contact number on my statement was not the correct for me to call. Mind you, it was correct, but having two policies in two different states seems to cause some internal confusion on their part. I'm used to this though.

Unfortunately, the problem was compounded when the agent attempted to answer my questions. It was apparent to me, the information was not correct. After I questioned the validity to the response I received, I was transferred to someone else. I could tell the agent escalated for THEIR sake and not mine.

Sadly, the agent had been placed in the uncomfortable position of not knowing the answer, nor was he capable of finding the proper resource to assist him in providing resolution. He was looking to bail as quickly as possible once things became difficult. While I was upset, I couldn't blame him. Having worked on the front lines, with limited training and resources, I KNOW that feeling!

Knowledge, in my opinion, is probably the most important factor in providing excellent service. This is not to suggest their aren't others, there are. What I do suggest, is at the moment of truth, the best aid a support agent can have in their repertoire, is a deep understanding of their role, product and/or service, processes, and company policy. In the event they are lacking in these areas, they should know where to go, to get the answer. Better yet, they should not be assisting customers. It leads to frustration on the part of the representative and the customer, and quite possibly results in losing a customer.

Agent knowledge is key in three areas:
  1. Trust- Customers will trust you, when you provide accurate information. When your staff is fully trained, they are better prepared to give customers the correct answer. In the event they encounter an issue they've not faced, proper training and procedures will point them in the right direction to find an effective and timely resolution. Trust makes no excuses, it finds solutions.
  2. Great Experience- I get excited, when in the course of assisting a customer, the agent transitions to the next step in the customer's journey. This could be a simple notification of what is to come, advise on a product that will meet additional needs, or anything else of value to reduce the customer's effort.
  3. Improved KPI's/Metrics- In almost every instance, a well trained, knowledgeable agent, will have a positive impact on metrics. Whether it is satisfaction, handle time, quality, or first contact resolution, the agent's expertise IS the prevailing factor in achieving high marks.

I know it is fashionable to have the latest software solutions, unlimited data with incredible insights, and specialist doing cutting edge, innovative work. Who wouldn't want that? Yet, from the customer's perspective, none of this is important, if the representative was not helpful, courteous, and knowledgeable, at the moment of truth.

I have over 15 years of progressive call center leadership and experience in the public, private and government sectors.

I have led or consulted contact centers of various sizes across numerous industries. Additionally, I’ve implemented new technology and products, while maintaining award-winning contact centers.

Connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Customer Service Quote of The Day

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Customer Service Quote of The Day

"Follow the Leader", Featuring Patrick Russell

What are some gamification best practices you recommend, to ensure success?

Although the term “gamification” is relatively new the practices is as old as contact centers themselves. Prior to having software solve all our needs we used to “gamify” the workplace through peer or team competition. Often with some sort of corkboard display to track and monitor the completion and performance. I’ve managed and created large thermometer team games, car races, horse races, etc. all using nothing more than a corkboard and a little creativity. Here we will examine a few best practices with varying levels of cost and sophistication.

Gamification Technology
There are a handful of tech companies that offer gamification solutions but they’re not all created equal. The best in class solutions will aggregate data systemically from literally every piece of technology involved in your operation. This will expand the number of metrics you can leverage as ways to compete. These solutions should have easy to access and fun agent portals with individual, team and enterprise dashboard to make it easy for any level of user to see performance and competition trends. The true leaders in this space will have the ability for agent to earn badges (like a video game) for completing certain performance milestones and ideally allow individual agent to initiate competition with their peers without involved any member of leadership. I’ve used some systems that allow agents to wager “points” between each other based on achieving a defined goal fastest or reaching the higher level of performance for a given metric. The level of engagement that can be derived from systems like this is astounding. Imagine turning all of your agents into personal performance managers while simultaneously making their job more fun.

Gamification Practices
Nothing is worse than participating in something that isn’t fair or lacks follow through from the managing party. Earning buy in requires a lot of things and failure to maintain buy-in will result in a failed gamification effort. Any successful gamification practice will include these attributes:
  • Regular and dependable updates
  • Fair competition
  • Variables are almost entirely within the agents control
  • The prize is worth the effort
    • Not all prizes have to be monetary. Recognition, favorable shift preference, seating choice, and time off priority can all carry a lot of weight.

Gamification Planning
Regardless if you’re aiming to add technology or build an in-house (corkboard style) game for your agents to take part in its important that you have a solid plan and include a representative from all of the primary involved parties. So often I see programs initiated that just miss the mark and its often a result of not including input from a single front-line employee. Incentives, the process, even the theme should include input from all involved levels. Implementing a game can be as much fun as the game itself but you have to be inclusive.

Patrick Russell has over 15 years in the customer/client relationship industry. He has experience with large multi-site operations (300+ direct/indirect reports), process analysis/improvement, RFP development, SAP AFS interface/business lead and product/program management.

He has a deep understanding and experience with contact center technology focusing on improving the customer experience (Workforce optimization (Workforce Management, Quality Management to include speech analytics, Performance Management to include gamification)).

Follow the leader: LinkedIn | Twitter

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

"Follow The Leader", Featuring Annette Franz

Along with traditional satisfaction measurements, what else should organizations focus on, to ensure an accurate assessment of customer experience?

I typically focus on a three-pronged approach to assessing the customer experience.
  1. Listen. Don't just ask customers about the experience, listen, as well. There are a lot of different channels (both quantitative and qualitative) for customers to tell you about their needs and desired outcomes and how well you’re performing against their expectations. And don’t forget to ask employees; they are a great source for input into the current state of the customer experience.
  2. Develop personas. Research your customers. Identify the jobs they are trying to do. Compile key personas that represent the various types of prospects and customers that (might) buy from you or that use your products or services. If you don’t understand who the customer is and what she is trying to do, then you’ll never be able to design an experience that is right for her.
  3. Map journeys. Walk in your customers' shoes to get a clear understanding of the steps they take to do whatever job it is they are trying to do with your organization. Map their journeys to understand the current state of the experience; there’s no better way to assess the experience!

Additionally, ensure that you’re tracking the right metrics to assess customer experience success for your customers and for your organization. Customer experience success metrics for/about the customer include: customer effort score, expectations met, first call resolution. These signal to me that the experience was easy for the customer. Metrics for the business include: retention, CLV, and share of wallet. These signal that the business has delivered an experience so great that customers come back – regularly.

Annette Franz is CEO of CX Journey Inc, a boutique consulting firm specializing in helping clients ground and frame their customer experience strategies in/via customer understanding.  She has 25 years of experience in the CX space and has been recognized as one of “The 100 Most Influential Tech Women on Twitter” by Business Insider and by several other organizations as a top influencer in Customer Experience. 

Follow the leader: Google+ | @annettefranz | @cxjourney | LinkedIn | Facebook

Customer Service Quote of the Day

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Knocking Down Silos: Connecting Technology to Business

By Julie Hunt
This article first appeared on JHC blog 

"Knocking down silos" to ensure the critical role of data strategies and solutions -- from the perspectives of business needs, buyers and users, and software vendors.

A Passion for Software Technology

I have two great passions when it comes to software technology. My tech career and first source of passion for software began many years ago as a developer in the IT group of Texas Instruments, working on systems that supported the semiconductor division. From the very beginning, end users (or customers) were always in the back of my mind, both for the work I did in software development and for the system user guides that I wrote.

When I did analysis for a new software project, my frame of reference included: is this something that the people who do the work really need? Does it help them in the ways that they want to be helped? Will this improve the overall quality and productivity of work done? And, unlike many at the time, my user manuals were created from the user perspective, in a flow that followed how they would use the application for actual work. It seemed natural to me to connect technology to real business needs, and to people. Still does.

Unfortunately to this day, software vendors and in-house developers often put too much focus on technologies and features, and fail to connect with the right potential customers or users to create solutions that help customers solve their business problems. Software vendors and buyers alike need strategies and expert guidance to optimize today's integrated enterprises: how different software applications fit together, how to evolve practices and processes for users to best take advantage of new technologies – even cultural changes for the internal enterprise.

An Equal Passion for Data Applications

My second long-time passion comes from working with a data management software vendor for several years. Obviously data impacts most companies and their systems; functions like data integration and data quality matter a lot for successful outcomes. I'm concerned that many businesses and IT teams still come up short on understanding the importance of connecting data management processes to business needs.

I've worked with other software vendors with offerings for web content management, marketing automation and eLearning, to name a few. These solutions almost always include an increasing number of data-oriented capabilities, including analytics, and metrics.

Data runs through an entire organization and beyond -- connecting employees, customers, partners, systems, processes, actions, and outcomes. Unfortunately silos of all sorts also run through organizations, with horrific consequences for important business initiatives. For business software to work well, it's rarely only about the technology.

A Data Story for Digital Marketing: Silos and Integration

Successful digital marketing initiatives with an authentic customer focus are only possible with the substantial aid of sophisticated technologies. But the right technology isn't enough. All sorts of silos and stumbling blocks can plague marketers working with digital marketing. These hurdles mirror company-wide challenges to becoming customer-focused, business-agile and market-savvy. Integrated data management and analytics are crucial but so is the integration of many kinds of silos.
  • Silos of information and content, business processes, and corporate functions continue to debilitate many organizations. Digital marketing will not happen if Marketing is a silo. The essentials of digital marketing are cross-team collaboration, bi-directional sharing of data and analytics results, cross-functional customer focus and support, relevant quality content. All of these pieces are needed to continuously update a strong understanding of customers and their journeys – across the organization.
  • Data and analytics are mission critical to everything in digital marketing, for successful outcomes. Data from many sources, inside and outside the firewall, is requisite to create and continuously update a multi-dimensional customer view – as well as analytics for buying trends, future customer behavior, understanding which products and which target markets, and better tracking of different customer journeys.
Data analytics initiatives are no small undertaking, especially since many of the sources and analytics processes don't originate in the Marketing 'silo'. As part of the effort to integrate silos, centralizing analytics can eliminate redundant effort to pull together intelligence to benefit all functions in the company. Centralized customer-focused analytics also contribute greatly to nurturing relevant customer experiences across channels by sharing the right insight with all customer-related functions in the business.
  • It's very tempting to focus too much on technology and tactics. While technology is essential to make a lot of digital marketing happen, many marketers find themselves too enamored of the tools, thinking that's all it takes. Outcomes: no strategies, no customer focus, the wrong goals, and the wrong metrics. Often the mechanics of working with the technology pull marketers away from the actual customer experience and how to improve it – which are pivotal elements of digital marketing.

The Biggest Silo of Them All

If top management doesn't yet understand who their customers are and why they do or don't buy from the company, then it's crazy to expect marketing to conjure miracles and save the business. Company leaders must build corporate strategies that revolve around customers, delivering what they need and want – and they must pursue marketing as a strategic function. For most businesses, customers drive the sales process -- meaning that an organization will only succeed when marketing is empowered to provide the highly personalized and relevant interactions that help customers want to buy products.

Julie is an independent consultant and industry analyst for B2B software solutions, providing services to vendors to improve strategies for customers and target markets, products and solutions, and future direction. Julie has expertise in several solution spaces including: data integration and data quality; analytics and BI; business process, workflow and collaboration; digital marketing, WCM and social media; and the pivotal importance of user and customer experiences.

Julie shares her takes on the software industry via her blog Highly Competitive and on Twitter. For more information: Julie Hunt Consulting – Strategies for B2B Software Solutions: Working from the Customer Perspective

Customer Service Quote of the Day

Monday, February 12, 2018

Customer Experience is Driving the Need for Ethnographic Research to Understand Why Customers Do What They Do

By Darcy Bevelacqua

Customer Experience is Everywhere
From marketing to customer service to the boardroom, it’s recognized that personalized, efficient and engaging customer experience drives customer acquisition, brand loyalty and customer lifetime value (LTV).

The focus has shifted from knowing how the customer interacts with your brand to understanding the why behind their behavior so you can personalize their experience across channels, locations and time.

Understanding the Customer Journey
The customer journey is the entire end-to-end experience that a customer has with your brand. It is not a single touchpoint or interaction but the collection of interactions at all touchpoints over a period of time. We know that customer experience problems are most likely to occur across channels and the best way to understand them is a detailed understanding of the customer journey.

McKinsey found that companies that understand the end to end customer journey and provide a good experience along the entire journey can expect to increase customer satisfaction by 20%, improve sales by 15%, reduce churn and decrease service costs as much as 20%.

The best way to understand your customer journey is to “map “ the customer journey. The map is a visual way of representing the customer’s story from the point at which they first become aware of your product or service, through purchasing, use, and churn.

Ethnographic Research Helps Us Understand the Customer Journey
In order to understand the customer story, we rely on ethnographic research. Ethnography is the study of human behavior in real life environments. The researchers interact with the participants in their culture through observation and questions to learn more about them. The research provides a deeper understanding of the problem and its impact on the person and their environment.

A good researcher is essential in winning people’s trust and confidence so they can accurately immerse themselves into the lives of their target audience, and understand the why behind why people do what they do. This is important as you can only design a better solution if you actually understand the “problem” and the “tasks” that the person is trying to accomplish in the context of what it “means” to the individuals involved.

How Ethnography Works
Short ethnographic studies can be very useful for understanding the “customer journey” and customer experience. For example: in order to understand the way in which a consumer
purchases eyeglasses, an ethnographer might conduct an ethnographic study by working and interacting with the customers in a retail setting for a few days. The researcher will use participant observation, interviews and surveys to understand what the customer is trying to accomplish and how the current environment contributes to a good or bad customer experience.

Ethnographic research is used at the beginning of the customer journey mapping process in order to understand what the customer is trying to accomplish and how they feel about what they are experiencing. It is a key part of identifying the “moments of truth” and “pain points” associated with the customer journey.

The moments of truth are the places that the customer considers essential to the customer experience. These moments of truth can be positive or negative, but they are essential sets in building a lasting customer relationship and in building trust between the organization and the prospect. Pain points are the areas of the customer journey that are not going well and do not meet the customer’s expectations.

The researcher may take photographs or video of the environment and the customers when they are beginning to document the customer journey. For example, in the case of purchasing eyeglasses we observed women taking photos of each other. When we inquired what they were doing, they indicated they were far sighted and unable to see the new eyeglass frames in the mirrors provides by the retailer, without their current prescription glasses. As a researcher, this information was noted as a poor customer experience and one that needed to be added to our list of things to be solved.

In addition, when consumers first entered the retail store they didn’t know how to “look” for different eyeglass frames. Customers couldn’t distinguish the difference between men’s and woman’s glasses and they were nervous that they might select glasses that did not look attractive on themselves. As a researcher, we were able to uncover consumer’s feelings about glasses and how they reflected on the personal images they wanted to convey. This information would also be added to the list of things to be solved so future customers could easily find the eyeglasses that would enhance their personal image and were appropriate based on their sexual orientation.

Advantages of Ethnography
One of the main advantages associated with ethnographic research is that ethnography can help identify and analyze unexpected issues. When conducting other types of studies, which are not based on observation or interaction, you can miss unexpected issues. This can happen either because questions are not asked, or respondents neglect to mention something. An ethnographic researcher’s on-site presence helps mitigate this risk because the issues will (hopefully) become directly apparent to the researcher.

Ethnography’s other main benefit is generally considered to be its ability to deliver a detailed and faithful representation of users’ behaviors and attitudes. Because of its subjective nature, an ethnographic study (with a skilled researcher) can be very useful in uncovering and analyzing relevant user attitudes and emotions.

Disadvantages of Ethnography
One of the main criticisms levelled at ethnographic studies is the amount of time they take to conduct. Because of its richer output, an ethnographic study will tend to take longer to generate and analyze its data than a standard survey. It is also possible that subjects may not act naturally during a short study. We control for this by repeating the observations in multiple locations with different researchers to try to eliminate as much bias as possible.

Ethnographic research is a valuable tool to really understand why customers do what they do. Good research will help you uncover new needs and help you identify how you improve the customer journey. The customer’s emotions and what they are trying to accomplish can be noted at each touchpoint on your journey map in order to help you “optimize” the customer journey to eliminate the pain points and deliver a better overall customer experience.

Darcy Bevelacqua is a Customer Experience and CRM Strategist. She is currently the CEO of Success Works CX, a leading customer experience consulting company with a staff of experts in market research, personal development, campaign planning, marketing strategy, competitive analysis, journey mapping and design thinking.

Darcy has a BA in Psychology from Hood College and a Master’s in Organizational Design from the New School for Social Research. She also has advanced work in Gamification (Univ of PA), Design Thinking and Innovation (UVA), as well as Human Centered Design (UCA-San Diego). Darcy lives in upstate NY in the summer and in Sarasota, FL in the winter. She loves warm weather and sunlight.

Connect: LinkedIn | Twitter | Email 

Customer Service Quote of the Day

Friday, February 9, 2018

Your Secret Business Weapon: Human Talent

By Dorthea Kemp

A pressing small business issue has come to my attention, the need for the right talent.

Technology has made running a small business more efficient than ever, however technology is not what customers experience when interacting with your business. Whether reading content on your website or chatting with your customer service staff, customers react to the experiences they have with human talent. In the rush to be the fastest, the human talent factor is getting ignored. For small business this can be disastrous. Small business must compete on relationships and customer satisfaction. These things can only be supported with competent and engaged human talent.

Recruiting is a brutal career and the stakes are high for both recruiters and businesses. Most small to medium businesses either recruit informally or outsource recruiting. This can be costly in the short and long term. Time is a critical resource for a business owner and should not be spent meeting with persons who cannot make your project successful.

To successfully recruit talent for your business, it is important to know just what the end goal is, and what talent is needed to get there. Many small business owners don't have the foundation to efficiently screen candidates.

When your business needs a tech upgrade, consider researching job descriptions of  on sites like or CareerBuilder. Make note of the skills listed in some of these positions and see if they are a good fit for what your business needs done. If you cannot afford the median rates for talent, offer some other bonus like working remotely, or hire someone with less experience understanding the project will take longer. Call some small businesses or freelancers to discuss your needs and see if the job can be outsourced locally. If your business needs more specialized help or someone long term, contact a reputable staffing agency specializing in technical staff. Discuss exactly what you need and your budget.

To get candidates that are a good fit, it is important to clearly define the job duties you want done to match up with the candidate skills. This way, you are not paying for skills that are 'hot' in the market, but not needed for your project. Be clear if you want to see samples or a portfolio, and review this before interviewing candidates. If a portfolio does not show some similar work to what you need done, pass on screening that person.

Flexibility on remote working and project timelines is key and can gather stronger candidates. You need not be skittish on remote work; collaboration tools make this a viable option for small business teams.

If you need help defining the role for your project, utilize your network. Utilize social media to ask for assistance and referrals. Recruiting is the backbone of your business. Don’t leave it to chance.

Dorthea Kemp is the Web/UI/UX designer at DKemp Designs, and the writer at Techsnoop Designs and Techsnoop's Helper. She creates awesome graphics and websites. She blogs on design and small business technology. In a previous life, Dorthea was an HR Recruiter.
Connect: Twitter | Instagram | Website

Friday Funny

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Working in Tandem: Customer Service and Marketing

By Wendy Weinert

There are many important departments that make up a well-oiled business machine. None, however are more or less valuable than the other. In fact, they are completely intertwined with one another. They need to operate similar to the human body, where hands, feet, mouth and mind all work towards a common goal. In this scenario, that goal is the customer.

What I have learned over my fourteen plus years in marketing, is that it is especially vital for marketing and customer service to not only work together, but to have the same vision, the same expectations, and the same message to convey to the end user.

Customer Service is any company’s front line. They are the problem solvers and the relationship builders. They are the ones that have the responsibility to create a repeat customer. In short, they are the brand realized in “real life”. In fact, I have observed in every company I have worked, that if there is severe turnover, extensive customer complaints, and an overall unsatisfactory tone within the customer service department, it is time to analyze your company with a fine tooth comb. Likely, you will find there are deep rooted leadership problems, and failed policies at play. But, I digress.

The tools that customer service has at their disposal to provide the customer with the best experience involve technical (program) tools, product offerings, and company policies that either provide freedom for customer resolutions or strict policies that suffocate excellent customer satisfaction. However, one of their most effective tools relies on how marketing, especially from an inbound perspective, creates buzz, excitement, and overall customer expectation.

If these two areas don’t align, the customer will not be satisfied. The messaging, level of satisfaction, as well as the ongoing communication after purchase, will reinforce the experience. So be sure marketing has thoroughly examined this through the eyes of a customer.

Marketing has a great responsibility to showcase, engage, and reinforce the core of the business. Marketing shouldn't be about tricking the customer with vague or misleading advertisements, but rather about inviting the customer in with inspiration and accurate value messaging. Their job is to tell the customer the story, whatever that is. Internally, everyone should know the company story and keep strive to keep it consistent. It is here, that marketing gives customers the resources necessary to determine what the differentiator is, in order to make an educated decision to business with your company.

When it comes to branding and customer reputation, every time we interact with a customer, it leaves an impression. We need to make it a good one! To successfully influence that impression, these two departments have to work closely together. Otherwise, the reputation will be damaged.

An additional thought

Whether you have customer issues that are occurring consistently, or you are hitting the ball out of the park, you should continually seek out ways to improve and eliminate pain points. Are the majority of your employees brand advocates? Are the employees loyal and enthusiastic about the company, service, or products offered? Is each department aware of what the other is up to? Is leadership supportive and advocating on behalf of customers and employees?

If so, don’t sit on your laurels. The key is ongoing analysis and communication. We don’t live or work in a static world, so be vigilant, and take steps to improve. With open communication, collaboration, and joint problem solving, marketing and customer service can have a positive impact on customer experience. After all, this is what both departments are striving for.

Lastly, remember, your first customer is your internal customer. If they aren't your brand advocates, it's difficult for others to be. But that is another topic for another time.

Wendy Weinert is an accomplished senior marketing professional with a diverse background in both the product and service industries encompassing strategic planning, interactive marketing, creative development, media planning & buying, direct/electronic marketing, public relations, and sales promotions. She's demonstrated the ability to work independently, and to lead both internal and external teams.

Connect on LinkedIn