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.

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