Should marketers care about services? Readers Respond

Should marketers care about services? Readers respond to the October Gloves Off question.

Catrina Boisson, director of customer communication services, Xerox. Marketers should care about every touch point that their customer is likely to encounter, from the call center to the checkout counter. Not only do frontline employees have direct access to the kind of unvarnished (and priceless) customer feedback that will never show up in this month’s satisfaction survey, we all know that a brand is defined by experience, not advertising. Marketers who aren’t regularly interacting with customer service (and sales and operations), likely don’t know what they don’t know, and their ignorance is losing them customers and revenue. Shouldn’t marketing be involved in shaping customer experiences?

Fred Landis, senior manager of CRM strategic consulting, Cognizant Technology Solutions. Social CRM has finally awakened organizations to the need for marketing and customer service to collaborate. Yet it has always been apparent to me having worked on both sides. Service data provides a key component to customer segmentation, at the heart of every direct marketing effort. Customer support becomes a more effective voice of the customer channel for not just marketing, but also product development.

Wendy Lea, CEO, Get Satisfaction. The question of whether direct marketing should be focused on customer service is a no-brainer. The goal of any communication with a customer—from researching to buying a product, to making a purchase, to having a customer service issue—should be to build an authentic relationship. In direct marketing, it’s easy to say, “The customer opened the email, she clicked through the link, and therefore she’s engaged.” But true engagement is about more than an email. It means you’ve inspired the customer to buy sooner, buy more, and finally, to become a brand advocate.

This doesn’t happen overnight, and it certainly doesn’t happen through impersonal direct marketing. In fact, standout customer service is the most effective and efficient way to inspire customer loyalty across the full customer life cycle. Given that direct marketing is one of the most effective and efficient ways to reach a customer, it’s the opportunity to extend that into a long-lasting relationship with the customer that truly drives revenue.

Sam Klaidman, principal adviser, Middlesex Consulting Group. Marketing defines the brand (and sets expectations) and service is the key organization in B2B companies to deliver experiences. If they are not carefully aligned, then at best the customer is confused and at worst she is pissed and will tweet and blog until the cows come home.

Chris Cottle, EVP of marketing and products, Allegiance. Should airline pilots or surgeons care about customer service? Of course they should. No matter what role you fill, the customer is not far removed. As direct marketers, we seek to receive the highest ROI for every marketing dollar spent. To do this, we carefully evaluate our lists, segmentation strategies, offer structures, and creative approach—all critical steps to generate an order. But what if a customer becomes offended and leaves at the moment of the order or during a key moment in the customer lifecycle? Those marketing dollars are wasted, and the marketer now needs to allocate new dollars to replace them—a costly problem for an already-limited budget. Marketers don’t operate in a vacuum; we’re part of a larger ecosystem. In fact, more and more, marketing “owns” customer service and the customer experience. We need to embrace it because it’s here to stay.

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