Happy customers make for a strong brand. Companies that provide excellent service to their customers not only boost retention, but can also positively impact marketing through message amplification, positive reviews and strong public perception. Despite this clear opportunity, however, marketing and customer service are still viewed largely as separate, unrelated functions.
CMSWire spoke with Sprinklr CMO Arun Pattabhiraman to better understand the link between customer service and marketing, and how brands can develop a more unified approach to customer experience.
A Flywheel, Not a Funnel
Despite the customer journey becoming more complex in today’s digital-first environment, which necessitates greater team collaboration, there’s still too big of a divide between customer service and marketing. “Marketers are trying to bring in new customers, while the customer service team is working quickly to get customers off the phone,” Pattabhiraman said. “The result is a crippling inability to truly understand – and serve – the customer.”
He added that the disconnect between marketing and customer service is increasingly challenging in today’s social-media powered society. What customers on social media say matters most, and what they say about your brand is largely defined by the customer service you provide.
“Increasingly, the customer lifecycle is a flywheel and not a one-way funnel,” Pattabhiraman said, noting that selling must happen at all customer touchpoints, and that customer contact centers can become important revenue drivers through cross-sells and upsells.
Building a Connection
Pattabhiraman says that companies can start closing the gap by placing social and other digital media at the center of their customer service strategy.
“Traditional strategies and systems hold companies back,” he said. “Customer service leaders need to approach service in a digital-first way that unifies teams, processes, data and technology.”
It also needs to be easier for all teams to collaborate, including social media service teams, traditional customer service teams and marketers. They should all share the same customer view and data to ensure that customers receive a consistent experience regardless of which channel they use.
Finally, to enable this kind of collaboration, companies need the right technology. Having an integrated stack that works across departments will allow customer service, sales and marketing teams to all have access to data across various customer touch points.
The Role of AI
Although accessing customer data from social media and other digital platforms has never been easier, turning that information into actionable insights remains an issue. Here, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning can not only tackle this challenge, but can also make these insights readily available for the whole organization, and automate repeatable actions based on them.
Pattabhiraman pointed to Microsoft as an example of a brand using AI effectively. Microsoft’s Social Command Center pulls in millions of conversations through social listening. In addition to using AI to identify and redirect priority messages to the right agents, they also pull out ideas and suggestions from customers, which they send to development and marketing teams.
“Once a product has been updated, the company circles back with those customers letting them know,” he explained. “These customers, in turn, organically advocate on behalf of the brand and promote Microsoft products to their networks.”“Once a product has been updated, the company circles back with those customers letting them know,” he explained. “These customers, in turn, organically advocate on behalf of the brand and promote Microsoft products to their networks.”
Heading into 2023, Pattabhiraman predicts that customer experience management will become more unified in general, as companies replace legacy point solutions with omnichannel platforms. Heading into 2023, Pattabhiraman predicts that customer experience management will become more unified in general, as companies replace legacy point solutions with omnichannel platforms.
Furthermore, by creating unified customer records across internal and external sources, these types of platforms will also transform digital customer service. With stronger data, AI and other automation technologies can reach greater maturity and, according to Pattabhiraman, identify actionable support tickets with over 95% accuracy.
As AI continues to advance efficiency and effectiveness, Pattabhiraman said he expects that customer service will no longer be seen as a cost center and will increasingly drive cross-sell and up-sell revenue.
Learn more about Sprinklr’s solutions for unified customer experience management at sprinklr.com.