Customer service and marketing: A future united?

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In any business, the customer service team is the front line. Whether its B2B or B2C, the challenges are the same. When a customer comes into contact with an organisation, irrespective of channel, the service they receive must be consistent and effective.

The mass adoption of social media within a corporate environment over the last few years has opened another direct channel for customers to communicate with an organisation. It is up to the organisation to ensure that they are effectively monitoring all channels to maintain high levels of customer service.

According to Media Bistro, 41% of companies have lost customers or had significant damage done to their reputation by negative social media posts. Social media has paved the way for the blending of marketing and customer service departments. The growth in the number of ‘big’ customer databases along with the necessity to provide a personalised service, whether a customer is complaining or purchasing, has married the two departments.

Social media

The interesting part of this relationship comes with social media. The increasing numbers of customers choosing to make complaints via social media, which is typically controlled by the marketing team, has blurred the lines between marketers and customer service professionals.

Corporates are starting to question how they can adapt their customer service teams to respond to complaints via social media in the same manner as if they came in via email, direct mail or the phone.

There is a growing number of customer service professionals managing social media campaigns, creating content and responding to customer queries. On the other hand, an increasing number of marketers are being forced to respond to complaints because they fall under their remit as controllers of the organisation’s social media presence.

The issue this creates for the businesses in question is staff who are ill experienced in marketing or managing complaints could be forced to do this very work.

With regards to social media, as any new Twitter user knows, getting everything you wish to say into under 140 characters or less is not the easiest. This is especially difficult if staff are trying to follow complaints procedures designed for other channels which require a lot more writing space. Social media seems to have introduced a pattern of blurring the lines across these two departments, impacting other aspects also.

Potential mergers?

Some businesses have examined the potential of combining these two departments. However, this again creates issues as some staff might require retraining, and movement such as this can often be disruptive to business processes.

With personalisation increasingly critical to different business departments, from sales to marketing and customer service, departments are having to work much closer together. Knowing who your customers are, their history with the company and any other pertinent information is essential to a high level of service.

High levels of personalisation will result in a stronger reputation and greater sales. The solution is therefore a system which multiple parties can work from containing all relevant customer data.

Case management

A case management workflow system is essential for any organisation to use across the business acting as the bridge between marketers and customer service departments.

Case management means that when a customer contacts an organisation through any channel, not only will the agent know exactly who they are and their history with the business, but this information will be available to a marketer. The benefit of this is that the marketing department will appreciate the need for sensitivity and special treatment for this particular customer.

Additionally, within a business where a marketer manages social media, any social media complaints can also be logged within a case management system, meaning when that customer phones in, the agent will be able to see they previously complained via social media and the nature of the complaint. Large customer facing businesses without a case management system run the risk of falling behind competitors through less than adequate customer service and disparate messaging.

The changing environment creates a number of potential issues for marketers and customer service professionals alike, and I would expect to see more businesses choosing to unite these two departments in the future. Whatever solution businesses choose however, it is critical that all staff have access to essential customer data and customers needs and complaints are effectively dealt with.

Simon Stackhouse is business development manager at BancTec.

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