customer service, digital marketing, aberdeen group
Customer service deals with customers every day, but marketing sets the tone for selling products or services. Which should lead in managing customer experiences? A new report from the Aberdeen Group points out the benefits of the two departments working together to manage customers who are increasingly empowered to take control of their relationships with companies, and to tell the world about how they were treated. 

The report, "Bringing Customer Service into Marketing: Empowered Customers Make Service Excellence an Imperative," [registration required] points out that today’s customers have many tools with which to determine if they should remain loyal to a product, what they should buy, and whether all their friends and acquaintances should know about their good or bad experiences.

Personalized Customer Experience is Key

This means that tailored offers and personalized customer service are required, as is coordinated messaging. In other words, customer service in the age of social networks involves marketing, and marketing in the age of personalization involves customer service.

"Addressing the needs of empowered customers and achieving maximum results from brand management efforts," notes the report, "requires marketers to engage an organizational partner that is closely connected to client issues: customer service."

Consequently, customer service and marketing need to work hand in hand, in such areas as establishing common performance goals and metrics, maintaining a shared definition of brand values, and collaborating on the use of technology tools.

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From the Aberdeen Group's report, "Bringing Customer Service into Marketing"

The report finds significant benefits emerging from companies that consciously align their customer service with their marketing-run brand management efforts, including more positive mentions through social media channels, a 74 percent greater year-over-year increase in annual company revenue, an increase in cross-sell and up-sell revenue, and higher attainments by sales teams of their annual quotas.

Alignment Through Customer Service Data

But how should a company best align their customer service activities with brand management efforts? One way is for marketing to utilize the wealth of data that customer service is acquiring, data that relates to the way customers feel about a company's products and services.

This data is obtained through online surveys, interactive voice response surveys, focus groups, feedback from customer service agents and so on. Through the use of such analytical tools as business intelligence, customer sentiment analytics and speech analytics, marketing departments as well as customer service departments can get insights into trends.

The report found that companies aligning their customer care efforts with the brand management programs are nearly one-third more likely than other companies to have this data alignment in place.

Again and again, the report highlights various synergistic activities that result when a company has made a conscious decision to align customer service activities with marketing-led brand management programs. One of the most tangible synergistics is that such companies are more likely to have cross-sell and up-sell activities within their customer care programs, which helps increase customer satisfaction as well as generates revenue.

The Circle of Modern Commerce

But cross-selling and up-selling require very well trained agents who know the products or services and can tailor the offer to the customer. To do so, agents need to call upon customer data stored in CRM systems and utilize offers that are consistent with marketing campaigns. It’s all part of the circle of modern commerce, where customers who are happy about a tailored offer they have just received will spread the word via social networks and will come back as loyal customers. And, again, customer service departments can pinpoint the most loyal customers and work with marketing to turn at least some of those customers into brand advocates.

One wishes this report had some case examples to illustrate its high level points. Nevertheless, this Aberdeen study highlights the importance of the front-line troops (customer service) having a working relationship with the cavalry and artillery (marketing) if the campaign to keep empowered customers engaged, happy and talkative is going to be victorious. 

Image courtesy of Maksim Kabakou (Shutterstock)