7 Reasons Marketing & Customer Service Need to Work Together

    by Pamela Vaughan

    Date

    April 23, 2012 at 9:00 AM

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    If you've read our articles on the benefits of sales and marketing alignment , you likely understand the importance of a marketing strategy that leverages cross-departmental collaboration and integration. And we feel no differently about the relationship between Marketing and Customer Service -- they should go together like milk and cookies.

    The need for a symbiotic marketing/customer service relationship is only more important now, with consumers increasingly turning to social media as a way to communicate with businesses. In fact, according to a recent study from Booz & Company , 75% of marketers using social media identify customer service as a primary use of their social media platform .

    But while the majority of marketers admit that customer service is a major function of their social presence, according to the same Booz & Company survey, only 26% of respondents describe customer service as a department responsible for contributing leadership to social media strategies. Something is off there; don't you agree?

    If you need more convincing, we've pulled together 7 compelling reasons why it's important for Marketing and Customer Service to be closely aligned -- and how to create a relationship that's much better at it.

    1) For Better Social Media Support

    As we already mentioned, most marketers are using social media to provide customer service . But is your marketing team's social media account manager really capable of handling these customer service issues as effectively as someone on your customer service team? Probably not. Your business' customer service team has likely been given the proper training and resources needed to assist customers and resolve issues, meaning they are the best people for the job.

    While it absolutely does make sense for your business' social media account management to be a function of Marketing, that doesn't mean people from other departments can't be involved. Why provide your customers with a subpar customer service experience just for the sake of keeping social media management solely in Marketing? Luckily, there are a number of tools available to marketers to make this possible -- and easy! Using a third-party social media management tool, such as HootSuite or HubSpot , marketers can easily collaborate with other departments such as Customer Service (or even Sales), routing customer support questions to the support team and making it easy for communications to be handed off to the most appropriate person. Coming up with a system that enables members of your customer service team to participate in customer service-related inquiries via social media will only make for a better customer experience.

    2) For Content Creation Ideas

    Savvy inbound marketers understand how important regular and consistent content creation is to their marketing strategy . Unfortunately, regular and consistent content creation means marketers also need a steady flow of ideas about which to create content, and even the most experienced content creators sometimes suffer from the struggle to come up with remarkable content ideas that their audience will find valuable.

    This is where your customer team can save the day! As people who are constantly communicating with customers and learning about their problems, interests, and needs, your customer team is probably an untapped goldmine of viable content ideas. After all, marketers are trying to create content that helps solve their audience's problems, and your customer team knows firsthand what those problems are. They will also probably be able to provide Marketing with real-life customer examples and successes to use in their marketing content, which is always an added bonus.

    As a marketer, open the lines of communication between the content creators on your team and your customer teams. Consider meeting regularly to learn about the problems your customers are facing, and think about the types of content you can create to address those problems. For example, our blogging team uses a page on HubSpot's internal wiki as a way for members of the sales and customer teams to submit blog article ideas based on their communications with customers and prospects.

    3) For a Deeper Understanding of Buyer Personas

    How well do you really understand your buyer personas? Buyer personas are fictional representations of your target customers, so if you implement the suggestions we provided in tip #2 above, you might learn that you don't really understand your customers as well as you thought you did. Or perhaps you haven't even developed well thought-out buyer personas in the first place. Truly understanding the inner-workings of your ideal customers can provide you with a number of business and marketing benefits such as a better understanding of customer needs, problems, and interests; knowledge of where customers spend time; better quality leads; consistency across your business; richer closed-loop analytics; and better product development.

    The great thing is, your customer team is talking to your customers all the time, meaning they probably know more about them than any other department within your company. So because understanding buyer personas is so critical for creating effective marketing campaigns, it behooves marketers to work more closely with customer service to help them truly understand customers' needs and thoughts. As a marketer, sit in on customer team meetings, and join in on customer calls for better insight into the personas you're marketing to.

    4) For Setting Customer Expectations

    One very telling indicator of an effective marketing team is when leads have clear expectations for how your business' products and services will help them. And when leads have clear expectations, the transition from lead to customer, as well as that customer's subsequent experience as a customer, can go much more smoothly. This is how Marketing can help prevent customer loss, since often customer churn is the result of misleading expectations that can be attributed back to misleading marketing campaigns.

    So how does customer service factor into this? When the two teams are better aligned, Customer Service can notify Marketing of instances when inadequate or misleading expectations have been set, since members of your customer service team will likely be the ones to stumble across these inconsistencies. Then, as a marketer, you'll be able to modify your campaigns to better set expectations for potential customers. For example, if your marketing team was relying heavily on the messaging that the indoor paint you sell dries in minutes, but in reality customers report that it takes hours, your marketing team could rectify the false expectations they were setting in their marketing campaigns.

    5) For Unified Messaging & Communications

    When prospects and customers have a question about a promotion your marketing team is running -- who they gonna call? Support! The reason is simple: it's the easiest phone number to find on most business' websites. So what happens if your customer support team knows nothing about that live webinar Marketing is currently holding and a prospect calls looking for the webinar link they forgot to bookmark when they signed up? "Umm ... what webinar?" says the support team rep. Not good.

    That's why it's so important for Customer Service to be in the know about what promotions Marketing is deploying -- so they can be well-equipped to answer any questions that pop up from prospects and customers alike. They should know where on the website to find that ebook, how to log in to that webinar, and where to enter that contest. As a marketer, arm your customer team with the resources they need to be successful. At HubSpot, for example, we keep a shared Google Doc where our support team can access the links and log-in information for every upcoming webinar we host. This eliminates the wasted time and effort of Support trying to contact Marketing while a caller waits on hold, making for a happier caller and a more efficient support process.

    6) For PR/Marketing Promotion of Customer Success & Happiness

    Customer problems aren't the only discussion topic your customer team shares with Marketing. They are also often the best equipped and first to identify customer happiness and success.

    Better customer service and marketing alignment enables Marketing to more easily pinpoint the customers that make great case study candidates, especially if they're looking for specific examples of customer success and the customer team knows about these preferences in advance. Your customer service team can also be on the lookout for awesome customer testimonials and examples of customer happiness, as well as encourage those happy customers to provide those online reviews we marketers covet .

    As a marketer, be sure to let your customer team in on these types of initiatives so you can more easily source customer successes and happiness to support your public relations outreach and other customer-centric marketing initiatives. At HubSpot, for example, we've tasked our customer team with helping us identify customers who are interested in participating in our " I HubSpot Because ... " initiative.

    7) For Informing Product Marketing Initiatives

    Your business' customer team is likely the most in tune with understanding how customers actually use your products/services. And to many marketers' surprise, sometimes the way customers use a product doesn't exactly line up with how marketers have been marketing it.

    Marketing/Customer Service alignment to the rescue! Hold regular meetings with members of Marketing and Customer Service to avoid situations where marketing is heavily promoting a product feature that is underutilized by or unsatisfying to customers. Or perhaps your customers are using your product/service in a way that wasn't originally intended and that your marketing team never thought to promote. This will help inform future, more successful product marketing initiatives and collateral.

    Why else is it critical for Marketing and Customer Service to forge a closer relationship?

    Image Credit: dennis

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