Marketing and Service Is a Happy Marriage

There is a misconception that contact center and marketing are two completely separate entities in an organization. In reality, the marriage between contact centers and marketing is vital for developing effective marketing campaigns and, more important, building a company’s brand. Contact center agents who deliver an exceptional customer experience build customer loyalty and seed customer information that help marketers increase revenue.

How can organizations provide the optimal customer experience? In today’s world social media, data analytics, new devices, and technologies are reshaping the customer interaction landscape. The customer experience must be a holistic process, requiring contact center and marketing to work hand-in-hand for the optimal outcome. With this in mind, here are six tips that will help marketers and agents enhance the customer experience, drive customer loyalty, and increase sales.

Integrate the channels – New consumer technologies make delivering consistent customer support and marketing more challenging. It’s more important than ever that companies leverage the tools that, first, enable customers to easily use the mode or device they prefer and second, that they integrate the diverse channels into a seamless experience. The alternative can result in significant cost for businesses and the loss of customers.

Build relationships – Best-in-class companies know that it’s not just about resolving problems; it’s about building lasting relationships with your customers. For example, Apple is in the business of making friends. Employees actually will try to “down-sell” you on the thing you came to buy and get you the lower-priced, less complicated product that will do what you need. Apple’s approach reportedly results in fewer product returns, higher sales rates, lower employee attrition and, more important, higher customer retention. Contact centers and marketers can emulate this approach by using historic and real-time data and analytics to provide agents with recommendations for the products and services that may be of interest to individual customers. Complete the loop by rewarding agents and marketers for selling the best-fitting solutions, rather than the most expensive.

Deliver actionable data to decision-makers – Sharing contact center and customer satisfaction reports with the entire company helps ensure that everyone is on the same page. Customer satisfaction should be everyone’s number one goal. Yet, found in 2011 that while 95% of companies collect customer feedback, only 10% deploy it to improve service. In addition, customer service data should spread beyond the contact center and go to departments, such as marketing, so everyone can use it to map customer demographics. For example, senior management has its own set of dashboard reports that provide regular updates on enterprise operations at a high level, with the ability to drill down to specific details.

Empower and engage employees – Create a culture where employees feel comfortable initiating conversations and listening to customers instead of just answering questions as fast as possible. It drives up customer satisfaction. Instead of reading from scripts, agents should build rapport, which in turn will make fiercely loyal customers.

Talk to your customers in real time – Consumers overwhelmingly end up trying to reach a live agent and are most satisfied after live interactions, either on the phone or via chat, according to a Frost & Sullivan 2012 report. In addition, live conversations allow contact centers to gather information about customer preferences and attitudes that can be useful to marketers to refine their approach to an audience to increase sales. Forcing customers into self-service channels may keep your costs down in the short term, but can cost you in retention and lost sales opportunities over the long haul when not used for the right purpose, and when customers cannot opt out to easily have a conversation.

Start at the top – Building a good customer experience starts with the CEO. A best-in-class customer experience comes from a company focused on delivering one, from senior management all the way to the agents on the front line or employees at the branch or store. Link every metric to company initiatives to help each person in the company understand how they fit into the bigger picture. The CEO should understand that it’s all related and organize the company to encourage collaboration, especially between marketing and the contact center.

Marketers are continually designing strategies that communicate the value of their product, develop the company’s brand, and increase sales—all focused on growing and retaining their customer base. Providing a good customer experience is essential to customer recruitment and retention, and this is where the contact center steps in. Companies must recognize that both departments need to work together to drive customer satisfaction, which in turn, will increase revenue. So start playing nice, it will benefit everyone in the long run.


Laura Bassett is director of marketing,
customer experience and emerging technologies at Avaya

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