Wednesday, July 7, 2010

It's not just integrated marketing. It's integrating marketing.

There was a TREMENDOUS conversation in which I got to participate last evening on Twitter. Marsha Collier runs a weekly chat on customer service (#custserv for you Twitter users). Last night the topic was basically the relationship between marketing and customer service. The conversation, for me, solidified a thought that had just been ranging around my brain before. To wit: customer service and marketing need each other to succeed.

This also made me realize something new. "Integrated Marketing" may officially be an out-of-date term. It's not just about integrating your marketing channels anymore, is it? Now, on a corporate level, marketing must be integrated with customer service. The one can enhance the other, and if not planned carefully, one can easily detract from the other as well.

How can a company weave together strands of customer service with strands of marketing to make a fully functional tapestry? Here are some ideas.

1. Build on testimonials: The easiest relationship to identify between marketing and customer service is a positive reaction from a customer. A testimonial, essentially, is a customer singing a company's praises. Marketing can spread the word about this happiness, build credibility, and show that the company really does walk the walk rather than just talking the talk. It's tangible proof of strong customer service.

2. Make customer service a pillar of your marketing campaign: If the customer service folk have really been kicking it into gear, don't be afraid to capitalize on that strength. Market it, in other words. Talking about strong customer service is great for booth graphics at a show, a company profile, and more. Market your strengths.

3. From the fertilizer of a customer service mistake, make marketing flowers bloom: Everyone by now has probably heard the story of Comcast Cares. A company notorious for poor customer service used Social Media to become responsive, attentive, and the poster child of modern-day communication. If a mistake can be fixed, if an unhappy customer can become an "evangelizer" for your company or product, your marketing team can have a veritable field day. If that person is willing to be quoted in an ad, a press release, or serve as an ambassador for your company at a trade show or event, how credible will that person AND you seem? This company isn't perfect and I wasn't always happy, but look at how happy I am now!

4. Marketing should keep existing customers in mind: Research shows that people like to think that someone is listening. Even with all of these ways to share content, feedback is what people are really after. If customer service gets several similar complaints about a feature and that feature is changed or updated, make sure marketing knows about it. "We listened and our product is better thanks to you." Domino's Pizza recently carried this kind of campaign out using television commercials tied to a Social Media campaign. Keep everyone in the loop!

5. Customer Service should keep marketing in mind: One thing we always try to tell people we work with is that it is essential to find out how people find out about you. If someone calls or emails or visits your website and expresses an interest in your product, don't be shy about asking how they heard about you. Marketers don't get a whole lot of gold stickers, but a delivered lead is pure gold indeed. Keep track of what people say and let your marketing team know what's going on. The marketing plan can be shifted to emphasize what is performing well.

Are there other ways in which customer service and marketing are or could be intertwined? Let me know!

Image by Glenn Pebley.


Aimee Lucas said...

Marjorie -

Really nice post building off of last night's chat. I think you hit many of the essential ways the two departments can work together.

Synchronicity between Marketing and the stories it tells/messages it sends and all of those individuals interacting with customers and influencing the perceptions they have of the organization is so important. Marketing through it's efforts often sets expectations before any other interactions take place. When the expectation in place when a first-time customer walks through the door, picks up the phone, or otherwise connects with the company doesn't match the reality that new customer experiences the business doesn't usually get a second chance to gain their patronage.

Time to knock down the walls within our orgs and work together to gain and keep customers' loyalty.

- Aimee

Margie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Real Life Mad Man said...

Excellent points and quite a thoughtful comment!

Thanks for your added input and thanks so much for stopping by!

Knock down those it :)