How do you make service pay? Make it the new marketing superstar!
Not so long ago it used to be that service was strictly “back office”. On the other hand, branding and marketing communications were very much “front of house”.
This was before the digital revolution. A time when companies stage managed communications with their customers and strong brands enjoyed unprecedented kudos.
Marketing projected the brand image and the organisation’s tone of voice. It also did much to create the leads that the sales team turned into new and improved business.
People working in service were called upon to support the brand at critical times such as new product launches, product recalls or complaints.
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. Admittedly, this is never easy. However, integrating marketing, sales and service is essential to your company’s future success.
Indeed, making service your new superstar is a smart move.
There are 5 ways valuable ways you can make service pay
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. Your customers expect that employees will have access to information about all previous contacts with the organisation.
Clearly, it’s up to you how best to use this information to benefit both your customer and your 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 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.
Which is why you should use your field service engineers as a valuable source of customer and market intelligence.
Encourage them wherever possible to maintain close contact with your sales team, passing them leads which they would otherwise not come across.
In addition, 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. It also enables you to offer them added value products and services.
Social media interactions are also largely managed by service teams within a framework laid down by marketing. Done well social listening coupled with positive service interventions can limit damage to your brand and maximise positive word of mouth.
5. You strengthen your 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.
Moreover, aligning marketing, sales and service behind the common goal of better serving customers is a proven way of increasing advocacy and repeat business.
In truth, customers have always valued the support that service teams provide.
Within organisations, sales and marketing personnel have sometimes been guilty of underestimating their service colleagues. Except at times of crisis when they are hailed as unsung heroes.
These days companies appreciate not only the contribution that service makes to customer experience but also to sales.
Undoubtedly, the quality of service has become a brand differentiator.
What’s more, the work of frontline service staff also plays a key role in improving and further developing products as well as generating leads for sales teams or even directly selling to customers.
Which, in the final analysis, is why service has become the marketing superstar in many organisations.
And why companies that long viewed service as a cost of business have now discovered how to make service pay .
*This article was originally written in October 2015 but has been updated in March 2020.