Q&A: Jon Arnold, principal, J Arnold & Associates

What are the key benefits from collaboration between marketing and customer service?

A deeper understanding of customers. All marketing can rely on is to watch for growth trends in sales to measure what they do, and there can be a long time between developing a campaign and seeing those results. But customers interact with contact center agents. They’re engaging with customers who may fit a profile that marketing values for a new brand extension, or may be interested in pilot testing an offer. You get market research without having to go to an outside vendor to reach customers and look for answers.

Why is it an opportune time for this collaboration?

For a lot of companies traditional revenue streams are drying up and going away. Any tools that help the company stay close to customers allows them to find new ways of doing business. If the whole business is under threat, everyone has to come up with new ideas.

What are the cultural barriers?

Contact centers are driven by performance metrics. They’re comfortable with standard measures of productivity, such as time spent on calls. When you start pushing into marketing-driven communication—a lot of which is unstructured—it doesn’t fit neatly into their models. These programs can be challenging and subtle to manage, particularly for companies that are outsourcing customer contact.

How can marketers overcome adoption challenges from customer service?

Everything contact centers do is assigned a cost. So if a marketing program is built around driving impulse purchases, the contact center can justify it if it shares in the bottom-line activity, or can offset their costs in other ways. If it’s an internal contact center organization, a share of the revenue can go to their operating budget. Or marketing can directly pick up the cost for new agents.

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