This is a guest article by Alexa Lemzy – customer support manager and blog author at TextMagic, a bulk SMS solution for business. She helps businesses take advantage of mobile and spends hours reading tons of content about customer retention and business workflows.
Modern consumers are used to having the option to contact businesses on social media and other public forums as well as traditional contact methods. What’s more, customers are sharing their opinions and interactions across the internet and social media more than ever. Today, customer service is a major part of your brand image.
This has blurred the lines between marketing and customer service. Consumers want your business to be consistent from marketing and sales to customer support.
Great customer service is also an effective form of marketing, keeping existing users loyal and attracting new leads.
Strengthening the relationship between marketing and customer service can have a big impact on customer satisfaction. By creating processes for collaboration and feedback, you can increase retention while attracting new clients.
In this article for Process Street, we’re going to look at a series of factors which you have to get right to provide a unified marketing and customer service strategy:
Customer service reps act as brand ambassadors
Your customer service team is often the first and the last people in your business a customer interacts with as they join or leave. If the person they contact is happy, helpful and enthusiastic, this will rub off on your customer and influence their feelings towards your business.
It is vital for the first impression from your customer service to live up to the expectations set by marketing. Their early experiences with your company are often the deciding factor in a client’s recommendation and their continued business.
Similarly, if a leaving customer’s final experience with customer service is negative, they are more likely to leave a bad review or report poor service. Keep track of negative customer service interactions in order to follow up with unhappy users. This can help to turn the situation around and in many cases, even turn a dissatisfied client into a brand advocate. Following up every issue is critical to improving your service.
Bring customer support into your social media strategy
Many businesses treat social media as solely the responsibility of their marketing team.
While everyday posting and social media interactions can be handled by marketing, clients also use your social media to raise issues and complaints. 75% of marketers say customer service is a primary use of social media.
Many of these issues require follow-up or access to your customer account management systems. This is not something most marketing teams have the time, training and resources to deal with.
Whether it is praise or a complaint, make sure your marketing team’s workflow includes a process for identifying these posts and comments. These should be passed to customer service, ensuring they are handed off to the most appropriate person or team to take action.
By assigning these tasks to a specific team or individual, you can create accountability and prevent issues from falling through the cracks.
Using Process Street, social media teams can create and assign custom checklists to customer service in response to issues on social media. This way, anyone can check the issue’s status at a glance and keep your client updated.
DenaliTEK has used custom checklists to increase the consistency of their customer support, by creating clear instructions and automatic progress updates for every issue.
This practice can be combined with conditional logic to automate task distribution.
For example, messages can be parsed for keywords to identify an appropriate checklist and assign it to someone. NW Maids uses this tactic to streamline their response time to incoming tickets, improving efficiency and customer satisfaction. This ensures messages are immediately assigned to an individual, ensuring someone is accountable for every ticket.
Check out this checklist for an example of how you could integrate customer service into your social media strategies:
Gain product marketing insights from customer service integration
While offering support to users, your customer service team will sometimes find clients who are not using your business the way you expected. By enabling customer service to log and flag these instances, you can discover:
- Unexpected uses for a product
- Benefits of using your business you hadn’t thought of
- Features your marketing focuses on that most customers don’t use
Creating forms for customer service agents to record data about how people use your business enables your marketing to focus on the most popular aspects of your service. By spotting unexpected uses for your business, you might even find entire new audiences you had not previously considered.
In addition, unexpected uses for a product have a marketing benefit, as a recent study has shown advertising a feature as unexpected can cause 21% higher sales than marketing it as an intended benefit. A split test conducted on WeChat for sunscreen demonstrated much more unit sales when its complexion-brightening property was framed as an unintended result.
Excellent customer service is an underrated marketing channel
Going above and beyond for a valued client can be a great marketing move that encourages customers to recommend your brand. It enables you to show you take amazing care of your customers and spreads awareness of your brand.
70% of Americans say they would spend more with a business they believe provides outstanding customer service. Existing users are much easier to market to than new leads. Showing amazing customer care is a great way not just to keep people buying with your business, but also to convince them to invest in upgrades and extras.
You can see an example of that in this checklist for upselling high-value clients:
Holistic approaches to customer interactions means consistent communication
When a new client joins your business you will have at least some information about their needs and the problem they want to solve. This might be through:
- Direct sales calls
- Email, text or instant messaging
- Answers provided to your sign up form or opt-in form
- The landing pages and click-throughs that brought them to your business
However, this information was provided, it can frustrate customers to repeat themselves.
By including notes from sales calls and the source of each lead in your customer management system for support agents, you can provide a more streamlined support experience. By creating checklists to manage support tickets, customer support agents can immediately see the status of any issues and who is responsible for the current task.
This information provides assurance to your clients and gives them confidence you are on top of their issue.
New customers contacting for support will be surprised and pleased to find their rep is already familiar with their needs. Arming your customer service agents with more information when a client gets in touch lets them provide faster resolutions.
For a growing business to access this data effectively you will need CRM software capable of integrating with your process management system, so do some research on the best CRM for small businesses.
For example, Dodson Property Management uses automatically assigned checklists to ensure procedures are followed and to ensure the information of each new tenant is readily available.
Keep customer service in the loop with marketing promotions
Customer service teams need to receive consistent training on the latest marketing promotions and offers. Your customer services team must be able to easily check the processes for offers from:
- Landing pages
- Social media
- Email or text links
- Online and mobile app ads
- Discount codes
- Customer referrals scheme
Many incoming leads from a marketing promotion will first reach your customer service team, not marketing. If customer service is not updated on how to redeem and check the latest offers, this can frustrate your new client.
It also creates inefficiency in your business, leading to:
- Customer service agents frequently contacting your marketing team for information about the current promotions, wasting both teams’ time
- Delays for new customers trying to redeem an offer
- Creates the potential for human error such as customers not receiving the intended discount, or accessing offers they should not be eligible for
All of these problems can make for a less than satisfying first experience with your business.
One simple solution to this problem is to create approvals templates for customer service to send to marketing, enabling marketing teams to check on the status and validity of redemptions as part of their workflow.
A system that lets employees easily create and share their own checklists can streamline this process. Marketing teams can make new checklists as new offers go live, and can check the process has been correctly followed before investigating a potential issue.
Better inform your audience personas
Another consequence of talking to users every day is that your customer service team knows exactly what demographics your business is attracting. Customer service contacts can often provide a lot of information about what draws each group to your business and what they want from you.
As a result, customer service feedback when updating your audience personas can be invaluable. If your marketing team and customer service teams have very different ideas about who your average buyers are, it will be hard for them to agree on how to provide the best service.
In addition, marketers should attend customer service meetings to get a better idea of the current user experience and should review customer service contacts for useful demographic information.
Groove HQ founder Alex Turnbull regularly schedules calls with customers to keep up with what they love and hate about his product. As a result, he has made many improvements to their service and onboarding processes and created more accurate audience personas based on these interactions.
Get content ideas and inspiration direct from customer needs
Your customer service team interacts with your customers on a daily basis.
As a result, they are in-tune with what people like about your business, hearing both compliments and complaints regularly. Their conversations can provide ideas for marketing content such as customer testimonials, success stories, and your client’s favorite things about your business.
For example, if your marketing team is notified that a lot of users or leads ask about how a feature works, they can create videos or blog content which:
- Explains the feature in more detail
- Shows how it can be applied to different business needs
- Provides different approaches strategies for making the most of the feature
These serve the dual purpose of helping your existing users while showing potential buyers the applications and benefits of your product.
Customers will often get in touch with frequently asked questions, or your customer service teams may notice a lot of confusion with a new feature. By enabling better communication with your marketing team, this can provide opportunities to create helpful content for your clients and leads.
Self-service content doesn’t just reduce the number of repeat questions your customer service team handles, but also customers prefer being able to find answers by themselves. 72% of consumers prefer finding information on your website to getting in contact.
This should be considered in both teams’ workflows, with forms for customer service to flag contacts to marketing as potential content ideas. Marketing should also make browsing reviews and feedback for marketing material part of their routine.
Understand whether you’re setting the right expectations
When a new user joins your business with false expectations, this can cause a lot of disappointment, bad reputation and ultimately a lost customer. Often this is due to a simple lack of communication between teams. For example, a marketer might misunderstand your service level agreements and tell leads to expect services in an infeasible timeframe.
Customer service teams should be able to report situations where a client’s expectations were incorrect to provide feedback to the marketing team and identify the content that gave inaccurate expectations. This will help marketing teams set the right expectations, improving overall customer satisfaction.
Some businesses even have their marketing teams provide customer support to stay in touch with customer needs. This also helps marketing teams get a better understanding of what customer service is capable of, and can set more accurate expectations with leads.
This is really important, as failing to meet expectations can have a far greater impact on their satisfaction than just setting more realistic service expectations.
Create a form for customer service to collect data on false expectations. Combined with conditional workflows, marketing teams can automatically receive a task to review an aspect of their content which may cause dissatisfaction.
By tracking and reporting these situations consistently, it will be much easier to spot when they increase and what causes it. For example, if you see a spike in new clients feeling mislead about the capabilities or features of a product, you can go back to look at the marketing content you produced at that time to correct the mistake and avoid it in future.
If you want to see what this feedback process might look like, check out the template below:
Improve your customer service strategy with Process Street
With users expecting a consistent and streamlined experience with every aspect of your business, you can’t afford to operate your marketing and customer service teams as separate silos. Strengthen the relationship between customer service and marketing by enabling both teams to collaborate and provide feedback more easily.
Ensure the processes you put in place to facilitate collaboration are followed by using automated checklists to assign and track tasks. Building a better connection between customer service teams and marketing teams will create a more consistent experience for both your existing clients and new customers.
You can do this with Process Street!
Check out this video to see what Process Street is, how it works, and why you should sign up for free now:
Process templates to help with customer service strategy:
Blogs to help with customer service strategy:
How do you integrate your customer service with your marketing team? Let us know in the comments below!