There’s often talk about the need for marketing and sales to be more aligned, but with the proliferation of social media and a global marketplace, it’s the relationship between marketing and customer service that will drive customer engagement.

Top 5 reasons marketing needs to work with customer service

1. Advertising is out, relationships are in.

Today’s consumer is far too savvy to buy into your fantastic advertising and viral media campaigns; but they’ll still buy into people. Remember the last time you had a great customer service experience and how that one interaction with an individual influenced your opinion of the brand?

2. More and more vendors are competing for your customer.

Thanks to the internet every retailer is now competing in a global marketplace. Online consumers have more retail options than ever before, and increasingly customer service is becoming the key differentiator and a marketable commodity. Take note from Avis Car Rental, who, back in the 1960s empowered their customer service department and successfully launched the “We Try Harder” campaign on the back of it. As a consequence, the company tripled market share in four years and still use the slogan in their marketing today.

3. Social media forces customer service into the open.

Social media is a public forum, so any communication from customer service, whether online or offline, can become public fodder and affect your company’s branding. A good example is UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’s. Following massive social media exposure of a positive customer experience, the supermarket even renamed tiger bread to giraffe bread. Now that’s good team work between customer service and marketing.

4. Brand ambassadors are priceless.

Word-of-mouth is now word-of-social media, which is great for marketers to finally be able to identify brand ambassadors. However, there’s a good chance you’ll need the customer service department to nurture and reward these VIPs.

5. Customer feedback should be at the forefront of product development.

Nokia was once at the forefront of mobile phone sales, and even now, arguably has better reception and reliability than iPhone. However, despite delivering fewer dropped calls, and an antennae that actually works (remember Apple’s issues with their iPhone 4 release), it is still losing market share to competitors because product development wasn’t listening to its customers’ feedback around the UI. The customer service team is the best place to source the insights product development needs.

Marketing’s how-to guide for working with customer services

1.      Establish rules.

Together, marketing and customer service should define the protocol for social media engagement. This starts with who should respond to which type of comment/question, assigning processes, when and how to refer to competitors (if at all), and escalation rules. If you’ve got a lot of customers, we recommend separate social media channels for customer support and corporate branding.

2.     
Make it easy and consistent inside out.

Every company, with a little copywriting expertise from marketing, should have a suite of canned email, chat and Twitter responses that reflect, through tone and language, the image of the brand. These pre-prepared responses are not only an efficient way of working, but will ensure customer service stays on brand.

3. Personalize and reward.

Marketing-led social media initiatives that extend the customer service offering will not only keep customers coming back, but will naturally make it easier for them to share their positive feedback with their friends and family. For example, the Ritz-Carlton Naples asked Facebook fans to tell them how they liked their coffee. If they checked into the hotel, their coffee would arrive exactly as they wanted without having to ask. Conversely, you can encourage followers to answer questions from other customers on Facebook, Twitter and forums, with rewards for their efforts. This will not only engage product evangelists, but reduce the stress on the customer service team.
4.      Great PR opportunities.

Sometimes there’s a great story behind one customer’s need for support. If the lines of communication are open between marketing and customer service a simple support ticket can turn into a fantastic public relations piece.
5.      Implement that feedback.

Any marketing team that works with customer service to develop and validate the product roadmap based on customer feedback is sure to improve customer retention rates.