Not so long ago it used to be that service was strictly “back office”, whereas marketing was very much “front of house”, projecting the brand and creating the leads that the sales team turned into new and improved business.
People working in service supported sales and marketing activity and were often hailed as unsung heroes who could be relied upon to manage the customer response at critical times such as new product launches, product recalls or complaints.
But that was before the digital revolution when companies stage managed communications with their customers and strong brands enjoyed unprecedented kudos.
Now, in an era of near perfect information and spontaneous communication, the businesses that are succeeding are customer, not brand, focused.
As a recent Microsoft report* bluntly puts it:
“The customer is now in control of your organisation’s reputation and revenue”
Since the strongest and most frequent connection to your customers is often through service employees, it makes sense to bring them into the heart of your sales and marketing strategies.
For many companies this means breaking down long established silos, which is never easy. However, integrating marketing, sales and service is essential and pays dividends in a number of valuable ways:
1. You establish a 360-degree view of the customer and create a consistent customer journey
Customer relationships are no longer linear, moving predictably from marketing through sales into service and back to marketing as the customer lifecycle progresses.
Instead, touchpoints vary according to need and opportunity and expectations are that employees will have access to information about all previous contacts with the organisation and be able to use them to benefit both the customer and the business.
2. You enable marketing to engage with the customer across the entire lifecycle
In industries with long sales cycles, service is essential to maintain the relationship with the customer in between infrequent repeat purchases. Involving marketing in these midlife discussions helps to create additional revenue generating opportunities such as product upgrades as well as shaping new generation product developments.
3. You constantly create and nurture sales leads
No matter how good your sales team is, the chances are that they are never aware of all of the opportunities to unlock new business. Field service personnel with their ear to the ground are a valuable source of market intelligence**. Office based service staff can also keep discrete in and out bound contact with longer term prospects who might otherwise be lost to the business.
4. You provide a more seamless customer experience, tailored to individual needs
Knowledge is power or so the old saying goes. Knowing your customer’s experience with your company so far and where they are in their journey with you, allows you to serve them more efficiently and to offer them added value products and services.
Social media interactions are largely managed by service teams within a framework laid down by marketing Done well they limit damage to the brand and maximise positive word of mouth.
5. You strengthen the brand and increase customer loyalty
In today’s digitally connected world customer experience can make or break a brand. Leveraging the service relationship increases customer insight and strengthens the brand.
Aligning marketing, sales and service behind the common goal of better serving customers is a proven way of increasing advocacy and repeat business***