In any business, customer service and marketing should have a harmonious relationship. Think of these aspects of your company as going hand in hand, like peanut butter and jelly. The ultimate goal of customer service is to improve the customer experience, and a marketing strategy focused on customer retention may spark more sales. According to OutboundEngine, increasing customer retention by just 5% can lead to a 25% to 95% increase in profits.
That’s why it’s vital to align customer service with your marketing and sales teams to accomplish customer support goals. By encouraging collaboration across these departments, you can increase revenue while decreasing overall marketing and customer acquisition costs – and help ensure the longevity of your business too.
How to align customer service and marketing
It’s no secret that COVID-19 changed the way companies do business and impacted customer service and marketing teams. Likewise, consumers have changed their purchasing habits. With many relying on online sales instead of in-person shopping, it’s more important than ever for business owners and their staff to deliver a stellar customer experience.
If you align your customer support, marketing and sales teams with a customer service-focused approach, you can sustain and even possibly increase profits in the current climate. Here are five ways you can achieve this goal.
1. Foster organization and communication.
For your customer service and marketing strategies to play off each other, there needs to be a consistent exchange of information between teams. Marketing staffers should conduct market research on customers’ needs and desires, information customer service employees can then use when fielding customer questions and addressing concerns. Customer support representatives should have accurate promotional and product documentation on hand, courtesy of the marketing team.
Consider cross-training employees and having your marketers sit on support calls with customers. Take advantage of internal communication apps and the best CRM software to keep all departments informed in real time and coordinate actions. For example, if a customer calls customer service with a promotional question, the answer may need a follow-up from marketing. Once the correct information is provided to the customer, a sales rep can reach out to see if they are still interested in making a purchase. With a centralized database tracking customer relationships, all team members can see a customer’s journey progress and communicate accordingly.
2. Stay competitive.
By coordinating marketing objectives, sales promotions and excellent customer service, you build trust with customers. Even though a client may be drawn to a competitor’s advertising offer, they’ll likely be reluctant to change brands if they consistently have a positive experience with you. The more customer service help they receive, the less likely they are to defect to the competition. When the bonds between customers and brands are strong, your teams can even make a mistake or two and still keep the customer. Be sure to keep tabs on changes in the marketplace and your competitors so that your customer service and marketing teams can make adjustments as necessary.
3. Harness the power of motivation.
When your customer service and marketing teams are correctly aligned, the positive outcomes are likely to boost employee morale and keep your staff motivated. Behind-the-scenes cooperation can have an external effect on your business that impacts the company internally, a cyclical relationship that keeps on giving. Hard work leads to happy customers, which leads to happy staffers who keep working hard.
Use that motivation to encourage employees to keep delivering at a high level and continue working together to accomplish company goals. Among the great byproducts, besides higher profits, are a positive sales culture and reduced turnover.
Use goal-setting and -tracking tools to establish goals on both an individual and a team level and to monitor progress. The metrics these tools provide will let you see where your customer service and marketing teams are performing well and where they need improvement.
4. Reallocate your budget.
All businesses rely on marketing tactics to attract new customers and increase revenue, but you should consider spending your marketing dollars on strengthening relationships with your current customers. When clients have a satisfying customer experience, they are more likely to make repeat purchases and tell their friends and family about your products and exceptional customer service.
Increasing word-of-mouth marketing and getting glowing reviews from customers are two of the best ways to cut marketing costs. Instead of spending money on ad campaigns, you can reallocate it to make improvements in customer service software, shipping processes, etc. These are expenditures that benefit the customer, which in turn help the company in the long run.
5. Be transparent.
To keep departments focused on your company-wide goal of emphasizing the customer experience, your business must be transparent from the top down. All relevant teams should be updated on product launch dates, promotional details and the ideal customer personas. If you outsource customer service or use a marketing agency, include them in company updates.
Transparency benefits your business because it ensures everyone is on the same page and can reduce mistakes that could affect whether or not a customer sticks with your business. There is a direct link between transparency among employees, customer retention and company sustainability.
Benefits of implementing customer service objectives into your marketing strategy
When your business focuses on customer service as part of its marketing strategy, it positively affects your bottom line, reducing business costs and increasing profits. In fact, Salesforce reports that 89% of customers say a good customer service experience makes them more likely to make another purchase. [See our Salesforce CRM review to learn how the platform can enhance your customer relationships.]
There are many other benefits your company stands to reap by aligning customer service and marketing efforts.
Great customer service gives you a competitive edge because it keeps consumers spending their money with you and referring others to do the same. Nelson James, co-founder of Signs.com, has experienced this firsthand.
“Customer service is a critical part of our marketing efforts at Signs.com,” he said. “We work hard to make sure we have incredible customer service that sets us apart from our competitors. In addition to our excellent products, our customer service is why people choose us in the first place and the main reason people keep coming back.”
Delightful customer service could motivate someone to leave an online review, and a wealth of positive reviews builds a business’s credibility.
“The majority of our customer reviews are based on how our customers are treated by our customer service team, and we pay close attention to what people say,” James said. “Good reviews help us establish trust and confidence with our customers. A positive experience with customer service creates loyal, happy customers that spread the word about our service, driving referrals.”
According to Reputation X, reviews with a one- or two-star rating fail to convert 86% of potential customers. Businesses with a better brand reputation, which is significantly impacted by the quality of customer support you provide, will attract more customers.
Some businesses experience conflict between their sales and marketing teams. But if everyone has a unified goal of prioritizing customer service, collaboration will be easier. Your overall marketing strategy should encourage cross-departmental cooperation, and that’s precisely what you get when you integrate customer service as a marketing strategy.
“Making sure we have top-of-the-line customer service is one of our most important marketing efforts, and it yields serious results,” James said. “Good customer service gives us a unique selling proposition, repeat business, increased trust, branding and word of mouth. That sounds like excellent marketing to me.”
Stronger social media interactions
Companies today need a social media presence, but a skilled social media manager shouldn’t be focused solely on clicks and impressions. That’s because your business’s social media accounts need to be about more than advertising. If your marketing pros are also prepared to address customer service issues expressed via social media, you can build stronger relationships with customers. You can use social media to improve customer retention just by listening and responding to posts about your company. A business that engages with its consumers on social media will boost customer loyalty.
Developing customer personas is a key part of any marketing effort. But instead of making assumptions about your ideal customer, you can study customer experiences and purchase habits to learn who is buying from your business and why. You’ll have a deeper understanding of your customers’ needs, interests and pain points. With that knowledge, you can create content and products that appeal to your target customer and sell from a more informed place.
How to improve your customer service efforts
Too often, businesses believe they’re providing fantastic support but are actually falling into customer service pitfalls that could eventually destroy their brand. Fortunately, companies can do some simple things to improve their customer service efforts.
- Use business process management to streamline operations and increase efficiency so there is more time to focus on the customer experience.
- Offer only the products your customers need and want.
- Give customers access to digital purchasing tools for easy online buying.
- Be reliable, accommodating and respectful, and show genuine interest when conversing with customers.
- Follow through with what you say you’ll do – with employees and customers.
- Use social media as a customer service tool.
- Listen to what your customers say about you online, and respond to praise and complaints using the right tone.
If you provide excellent customer service, you can likely charge more for your products and services without reducing brand loyalty or recurring purchases.
Customer service case study: How USAA sets the bar for success
USAA, which provides banking and insurance products for military members and their families, is consistently a leader in customer service. This is evident in a consumer survey by Verint, which in 2021 found that USAA had the highest customer satisfaction score and the highest Net Promoter Score among insurers. Both of these measurements indicate that the company excels at customer experience and is more likely to be recommended by satisfied customers.
USAA’s success is attributed to its customer-centric model, treating its users as members of a family instead of paying customers. As a result, their product offerings reflect what their “family members” need in various life situations, instead of cookie-cutter insurance and financial products that could be found elsewhere. Behind the scenes, the company emphasizes employee involvement to keep staff motivated and ensure departments work cooperatively to provide customers the service they deserve. It’s a winning strategy.
Greg Shuey contributed to the writing and reporting in this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.