Marketing and customer service leaders unite

Marketing and customer service teams have nearly the same reputation for collaboration as marketing and sales teams do. That is to say, not a good one. 

Marketers are known for running promotions, making site updates, changing prices, and the like, yet neglecting to inform the team that will get all the questions and complaints: customer service. On the other hand, service leaders are known for keeping customer data close to the vest that marketers could use to improve the relevance of campaigns.

It’s time for a change.

It’s time for more sharing of information and more collaboration. Not because “we all should get along”; instead, because customers demand it. If businesses are to deliver on customer expectations (e.g. make me the right offer at the right time in the right channel), the ‘s’ word needs to become a thing of the past. Yes, I mean silos.

Customer interactions on social channels are forcing the issue. When customers voice comments, complaints, and suggestions in social channels, either marketing or customer service might need to address the issue. Yet often, only one of the departments interacts with customers through social media. Managing social customer interactions effectively and efficiently requires collaboration. Consider what happens when companies don’t collaborate: Complaints on social sites that marketers attend to may go unanswered, while trends apparent through customer comments that signal prospective marketing opportunities may be overlooked by customer service agents manning a social site.

Just as important are the opportunities to generate revenue and build loyalty that will become obvious as marketing and service collaboration improves. For example, there are an increasing number of tools built for the contact center that actually serve marketers. These applications are designed to provide contact center agents with the information they need—when they need it, and within the context of an interaction—to make the next best offer or suggest the next best action. Unified customer service and marketing teams work in tandem to benefit the customer—and the company. I recently blogged about a customer service interaction with Citibank that was about as direct as direct marketing gets.

These situations—responding to customers via social or in the contact center—are examples of where direct marketing can really shine when partnering with customer service. Not long ago, for example, I tweeted that I prefer content over ads on Facebook and cited as an example “recipes from Fresh Direct.” The next morning I received a reply tweet from the online grocer with a “thanks for the shout out” and a link to the company’s recipes tab on Facebook. Not only was Fresh Direct marketing itself with extreme relevance to an engaged customer, it was providing a service.

To me, all of this means one thing: It’s become imperative for marketing and customer service leaders to unite. What do you think? Should direct marketers care about customer service? 

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