CollaborateWe all know the saying and the controversial proverbial battle: ‘Which came first, the chicken or the egg?’ Chickens have to lay eggs, but eggs have to hatch chickens. So which one came first? Everyone has their opinion; no one has been able to solve the riddle. (As far as I know.) In the business world, a similar question has popped up: ‘Which comes first, the execution of marketing programs, or providing steadfast customer service?’
Have you thought about that? Really put some time into your role in the business and industry you work in? Does your customer service program rely on the marketing your company executes? Or do the marketing campaigns rolled out only get approved once customer service has been elevated and measured?
Perhaps the answer isn’t simple. Perhaps it truly is a chicken and egg situation. In the meantime, as we ponder the many disputed opinions of this quandary, like why marketing may be the reason customers even make calls, or why ad campaigns are written solely based on what customers are saying and buying, I am going to take a brief look into seeing both sides of this ‘argument,’ for argument’s sake actually.
According to a Forbes.com article titled Customer Service is the New Marketing, “90 percent of consumers trust peer reviews and 70 percent trust online reviews. [Customer service is] the last, true, medium that many consumers turn to when faced when inundated with choice, and confused by similar-sounding sales pitches.” Companies with large call-centers, like credit card or insurance companies for instance, are advertising that when you call in with an inquiry or complaint, you will actually be transferred to a live person – no automated robotic voices trying to help solve your problem. These companies are spending marketing dollars to ensure their customers know their customer service will be outstanding, helpful, and in real time.
And have you noticed when you shop online there is a button for you to “Live Chat” with someone: Immediate customer service, right at your fingertips, to answer a question and help you make an informed decision. It is these types of customer service enhancements that create a strong service brand that keep customers coming back for more. What are the issues businesses face when it comes to their constituents? Loyalty and retention… Advocacy and referrals… Satisfaction and enthusiasm! By establishing best practices in Customer Service these issues are recognized, evaluated and made as a preeminent focus and investment for companies across the globe.
The Forbes.com article closes with a hopeful statement based on two online companies who actually hire their most enthusiastic customers to help with product inquiries, referrals, blogs, and more. For, “After all, who better to make authentic product recommendations and answer detailed product questions, than the customers already using them? No outsourced call center team can match the passion, product knowledge and helpfulness of your most ardent supporters.”
Those are strong arguments… But what about marketing? What about the famous saying posted on many a marketer’s wall, ‘you can’t make money without spending money?’ Without marketing, there would be no brand presence, no special promotions and other incentivizing calls-to-action that push customers towards the purchase, no relationship establishment, no available information, no possibility for growth.
While word of mouth helps businesses get new customers, marketing campaigns such as emails, social media, websites, special offers and more, are also initiatives that influence growth in consumer acquisition. Marketing also establishes brand awareness. Putting your company name out there, through events and advertising, for instance, are the efforts that build trust and security for your customers which help them maintain loyalty and faith in your product.
Marketing is also a special way for companies to influence when, how, and where to buy products. Promotions, special offers and even special events can guide customers to push products out the door right when they need it most. Through effective marketing campaigns online, in-store, on television or radio… wherever necessary… you start to build a relationship with your customers and build a reputation for your company. The first impression is always the lasting impression. An effective, smart marketing campaign helps your customer remember your company name, the product, the benefits of that product, and the reason they should invest in it. Last but not least, your customers won’t be your customers unless you tell them about you, and your product. Who is going to be the one that does that? Marketing, of course!
If any solution should come from this chicken versus egg scenario, it is this: instead of being separate courses of the meal, Marketing and Customer Service should complement each other like cake and ice cream… chips and dip… burgers and fries… Hubspot.com posted in a recent article, “The need for a symbiotic marketing/customer service relationship is… more important now, with consumers increasingly turning to social media as a way to communicate with businesses.” Marketing complements Customer Service by providing them with vehicles to communicate with consumers outside of call-centers, emails and live chats. Customer Service complements Marketing by providing them with proper content for campaigns to reach their targeted audiences, helping them set customer expectations, and sending public relation messaging of satisfied customer testimonials.
Gary Vaynerchuk’s book The Thank You Economy says it best: “businesses need to adapt to the new reality that one-way push communications are no longer as effective as building a real, sustainable relationship with your customers.” How do companies do this? Regular meetings between Marketing and Customer Service team members should take place, so information can be shared, and collaboration can take place. The outcome? A consistent message, a strong service brand with the kind of marketing that inspires, and a company that sees positive results for putting in the time to make this happen.
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