5 Tips to Align Customer Support with Marketing for Greater Customer Retention

5 Tips to Align Customer Support with Marketing for Greater Customer Retention
There is no doubt that this is the era when customer service is a must, along with marketing, to make any business successful. But as time is changing, it is very important to have a proper alignment between customer service and marketing. Yes! And, there is a reason behind it.

Let’s understand it with an example. Suppose you buy something just by looking at it via Facebook ads for several hundred dollars below the market rate. And now you find out that the rate you saw applies to a different product. So, being frustrated, who will you call? Certainly, customer service support. But what if they deny to help you as they are not aware of the products you are talking about, and they’re more than willing to charge your card. And also, they’re not so willing to discuss the root of the problem. It all happens when there is some poor alignment between teams.

Well, as a result of all this, customers feel misled by marketing messages. And somehow they stop believing marketing messages and hence it directly affects the businesses. So, let’s learn the importance of aligning Customer Support With Marketing Activities and what are the ways to do that.

Why Align Customer Support With Marketing Activities?

Based on the reports or research of Aberdeen Group, organizations that align their Customer Support With Marketing activities are in profits as they can:

a. Earn brand awareness and free marketing through more positive social media mentions.
b. Restore relationships and undo churn with high customer win-back rates.
c. Create faith, spread loyalty in a disloyal age significantly, boosting customer retention. 
d. Prioritize customer experience drives high levels of customer fulfillment.

Are you thinking- what if you don’t have this alignment? Well, the companies which don’t their support teams function as a fancy business, trying to push things ahead even without really considering the customer’s perspective.

So, for these organizations, lack of alignment translates to:

a. More Churn and Less Customer Retention
b. Misspent marketing efforts and waste
c. Negative reviews that discomfort promised customers

This all indicates that even if you make no mistake—misalignment between customer service and marketing is unprofitable.

Here’s How to Align Customer Support With Marketing Activities

1. Create Better Buyer Personas

It is an undeniable fact that Buyer personas are a challenging notion. For those who don’t know what a buyer persona, it is a research-based profile that represents a target customer. In all, it describes who your ideal customers are, what days of them are like, what are the challenges they face, and how they make decisions.

Moreover, they’re supposed to help marketing teams connect more effectively with target audiences, as fictional representations of potential customers. And the motto of having relevant buyer persona is: if you can understand them, you can engage them.

The idea of having Buyer Personas makes perfect sense in theory. So, with the help of this, many marketers operate with a superficial understanding of their target audience in practice. Moreover, they lean on data found in market research and Google Analytics in their zeal to define and document personas.

Without having any human element, they profile and pursue ideal buyers rather than real ones. In the process, prospects are often reduced to demographics and feature sets. Well, it takes more than that to resonate with human beings.

The personas take a holistic perception of the real-world situations that lead to a sale, something that customer support people usually build with time. Make sure that creating buyer personas shouldn’t fall squarely on marketing whether your organization is starting from scratch or revising an existing set.

Indeed, marketing may not think of demand support’s help, but it doesn’t mean your team can’t offer it. Industry-leaders suggest that sharing customer support data can help marketers offering the information that they can use to build better buyer personas.

Ask your support squad to consider these points:

a. Possible questions they hear from prospects

Maybe at the moment, this does not seem super important to the support team, but it’s very important for marketers. Because almost every time, questions precede decisions, especially the purchase decisions.

b. Possible questions they hear from existing customers

Getting what existing customers are experiencing about post-sale allows marketers to add more depth to buyer personas, especially points which mention that in what ways do they seek help applying your solution to their problem.

c. Internal content that helps get the job is done

Just keep a check- is your team providing manual tasks for existing customers to make their purchase easier—or to make up for product shortcomings? Because any internal how-to document that helps agents do their jobs can describe a lot about customer values and needs.

d. Think about skills customers need to make your product successful

While remaining useful and accessible to people who prefer plug and play solutions, many SaaS products (Aircall included) are capable of doing more for tech-savvy users. Only by using data from support, marketing can meet different buyers where they are.

e. Pay attention to what customers say about your product 

When things don’t work, Customers do more than complain and vice versa. And, when things do work, they also shower brands with hard-to-beat praise. That means marketing can write to your strengths, and prospect pain points are given insight into both positive and negative feedback.

In all, by having support in the process, marketing can do best with their knowledge of real customers to speak to the real-life situations which prospects care about

2. Consolidate Outward-Facing Departments

All three domains: Marketing, Sales, and Customer Support, have something vital in common, i.e., they all are outward-facing departments. That means employees of these teams interact with the public daily.

So, consider integrating all three into the same business unit to ensure that all of your SMB’s outward-facing departments give customers the same information and narrative.

Sibme, an online video coaching & collaboration platform, does the same. According to TJ Hoffman, its director of marketing and customer success,

“All of our customer-facing teams are integrated under one umbrella, and we meet weekly . . . Data collected from our customer support and customer success teams informs marketing materials we create, including webinars, blog posts, and newsletters.”

So, all you can do is create a new, unified, outward-facing business unit at your SMB, but at the bare minimum. All you need to make sure is that all these teams (particularly marketing, sales, and CS) are on the same page when it comes to a key aspect of your business — Software.

3. Craft a Social Media Support Strategy

To drive alignment between customer service and marketing: one of the most obvious but frequently overlooked ways is social media.

Based on reports from Microsoft, almost two-thirds of adults between 18 and 34 believe social media is an effective channel for customer service issues. And undoubtedly, they’re right.

But support teams often have no idea about what's happening on customers’ favorite networks because most company’s social accounts are handled by the marketing team. And marketers often lack the patience as well as the knowledge to figure out how best to respond when customers enter their domain with issues rather than interest.

For example, a marketing team can respond in several ways when they receive a complaint:

a. The laissez-faire approach

Marketing teams can notify the support team while asking them to handle it.

b. The caution-be-damned approach 

Even if Marketing teams are not sure how to respond, they take a try at handling it themselves.

c. The team player approach

Marketing first asks support on how to reply and respond to the customer based on their feedback.

What is the current scenario due to which company lacks is, not-my-job approach. Yes, what the Marketing team does is it sees the message, but neither notifies support nor attempts to respond to the complaint.

While responding and getting it wrong could be poor, ignoring customers on any channel is equally damaging. And, the major reason why consumers unfollow brands is the bad customer support service.

Based on a report from Sprout Social, any poor responses by the brand on social media platform further lead consumers to:

- Share their experience online (41 percent)
- Boycott brands altogether (50 percent)
- Share their experience offline (42 percent)

Instead of risking their reputations, companies that align their marketing functions and customer service define exactly how to handle support requests across networks. Also, they eliminate guesswork with a social customer care strategy to get each team on the same page.

Here’s where to start with marketing:

a. Conduct an audit to understand issues and volume

Keep track of how many incoming messages or @mentions are customer service-related before transferring queries directly to customer support and also keep on the check that what are customers asking about.

b. Define when to deflect

Before moving a customer to another channel, it’s not uncommon for social support teams to respond once or twice. Hence create a proper hierarchy and ask them to agree on when it makes sense to do so.

c. Decide who responds to what

If any complaint lands, it is very important to respond asap. So, make sure that your marketing teams are open to field simple support requests. Ask them to reply even if it’s only to say,

“We’re so sorry! Please DM us your [unique identifier] and someone from our team will get back to you.”

Such kind of basic responses to customers also makes them feel nice about it. And, if your marketing team is not doing it, task a select agent (or two) to respond asap, so your customers feel great after purchasing from you.

d. Consider a dedicated tool

To route support requests to agents: now we have a growing list of third-party social media tools that make it easy for marketing. So, getting one tool for your business is a must, especially if you have or anticipate a high volume across networks.

4. Create a Unified Brand Voice

There are times when customers feel that they are misled by marketing, and then they contact your customer service department to complain, there’s a high chance that the whole issue started with some form of miscommunication.

Making an assumption that your marketing materials are all being created and presented in good faith (they’re transparent, truthful, and not attempting to mislead customers), then the lack of unity between CS interactions and those materials comes down to a question of branding and voice.

So another advantage of aligning your marketing and customer service teams is that from now on, there will be a unified voice that sets the tone for your entire brand. In this way, your customers will see your company as a single entity instead of multiple competing departments.

Gabrielle Nickas, a Digital marketing expert, explains how this can be a problem:

“Your marketing team conceives and creates a social media ad on Facebook, but the comments back and forth with users are addressed by CS in a lot of cases. The message in the social media post should match the tone and messaging in your comments, otherwise you’ve just undone the branding that your marketing team put forth; your brand now looks more disjointed than if they hadn’t put forth a marketing message to begin with.”

Hence make sure that your marketing and CS teams are on the same page to save yourself from this embarrassment as well as the loss of customer trust and business that accompanies it, especially when it comes to branding, offers, messaging, and voice.

5. Encourage a Symbiotic Relationship

If you enable your CS team to access your marketing assets, it will be easier for them to deal with it. Because obviously, the CS team will be better equipped to respond to customer needs, complaints, and problems only if they already know what customers are being promised or told to expect from your products/services.

It is great to know that not only the team will benefit from this alignment, but your marketing team will also learn a lot from your CS team. And, the more the alignment is stronger, the more it will help you create stronger marketing materials.

According to Fundera’s content marketing associate Nicolas Straut,

“CS can provide valuable insights into the strengths of a product or service to emphasize in marketing campaigns. They also more fully understand the average customer and their expectations and use cases."

Besides team meetings and access to each others’ materials, there are more ways for teams to develop stronger relationships, such as:

a. Marketing team members can monitor customer service calls or read transcripts of CS exchanges for no much confusion.
b. Similarly, as we mentioned that CS representatives must know what marketing team is promising to customers, so they should sit in on marketing campaign meetings.
c. Emails of Marketing can also be  sent to CS representatives through a blind copy (bcc) or via the CS team’s access so they can know everything first.

The purpose behind all such steps is to create a more consistent sense of branding across departments; hence, when customers contact CS, they feel like they’re talking to the same entity that first contacted them with marketing materials.

Final Thoughts

So we have seen some ways which help the organizations in aligning Customer Support with Marketing in the easiest ways as well as for better results. Try now and spread loyalty in this disloyal age and significantly boost customer retention.
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