Post, courtesy of the newest member of the Heinz Marketing Team – Brian Degenstein, Marketing Consultant

We’ve all been there. Our shiny new smartphone crashes. Our lightning fast internet suddenly grinds to a halt. For most, the next step is to call customer service.

Often over looked, forgotten, and living in its own silo, the customer service department carries a less than stellar reputation with customers. And for good reason. This is where most customer service experiences begin, when something goes wrong. However, smart businesses are realizing the benefits of integrating Marketing and Customer Service.

Marketing, meet Customer Service.

Although the concept isn’t new, brands still struggle to successfully execute this idea. Aligning strategies, collaborating and ultimately creating a great customer experience from every department, especially marketing, is key to retaining and even gaining new customers. Here’s why.

Delivering an Excellent Customer Experience

Brands are becoming more about experiences than individual products. Producing a great product is just one piece of the puzzle. And no product is perfect. Thus, how a company treats their customers plays a significant role in their current and future buying decisions. Plus the decisions of those around them. It’s important to understand the customer service experience is continuous. There’s no magic formula for when the customer service department will be called, so educating and training each team, especially marketing, will allow for a consistent and superior customer service experience.

Brand Loyalty

All it takes is one less-than-stellar customer service experience for a customer to write-off a brand. Yet the assumption remains, once loyal, always loyal. Today, that’s just not true. A recent survey shows that the quality of a product is just as important as the values and ethics of a brand, especially with millennials. These values go hand-in-hand with how a company treats their customers. Remove the notion that a customer will remain loyal after a poor experience. There are plenty of other brands out there striving to win new customers.

Social Media

In today’s social media and online review driven world, customers have the ability to provide instant feedback. Whether it’s leaving a positive review on Yelp, or voicing their frustration on Twitter, it can be overwhelming for some companies. The main goal is to address them as quickly and efficiently as possible. However, this can only be achieved with collaboration. With marketing and sales working hard to gain new customers, communicating and understanding current promotions and strategies is key to successfully providing responses to customer complaints. Not only that, but sometimes the smallest gestures can have the biggest impact. Possibly even a customer for life.

The Facts

All that sounds like a no brainer, so why are more brands not doing it? Creating, maintaining and integrating a successful customer service department is no easy task. And there’s no doubt it can be time consuming and expensive. However, the whole idea is to invest in the long-term. A vision most brands lack. If that’s not enough, it’s hard to ignore statistics like these,

  • 80% of a company’s future revenue will come from just 20% of existing customers, according to Gartner Group.
  • A 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75%, according to Bain and Co.
  • It will cost a company five times more to attract new customers than to keep an existing customer, according to Lee Resource Inc.

Above all, it’s only a matter of time before something goes wrong. And chances are, the customer has already made up their mind when calling customer service. Enticing them with special promotions is fine. But ultimately, how they are treated may be the one thing that changes their mind. If not, the next best thing is to understand the issue and why it happened, preventing it from happening again.