Challenging The Synergy Between Marketing And Customer Service

After speaking with a large insurance company recently about the challenges it experiences in connecting customer service with marketing, I'm reminded of a common disconnect that continues to pain global organizations.

The company shared how one of its customers called into its service center to inquire about his life insurance policy coming due. Much to the customer's surprise, continuing on his existing plan translated into a tremendous price increase. The customer became frustrated, and the agent wasn't aware that she could have canceled the existing plan and subsequently opened a new one in its place for a much lower price.

As a result, the insurer is now trying to determine which department should let him know his contract is about to expire. Perhaps -- as a logical second step to the phone interaction -- marketing should take the information gathered through speech and data analytics leveraged in the contact center, send a letter informing him of the changes ahead, and include available options.

This one instance made the company realize that such experiences represent missed opportunities to make customers happy, advance existing relationships and even up-sell them on new programs and offerings. It also uncovers a host of training needs and education opportunities for those interacting with customers in examples just like this one each and every day.

If you've read some of my previous articles, you may know that I'm a firm believer in establishing greater integration between marketing departments and customer service operations - and, ultimately, working toward the goal of developing better customer relationships. My organization recently concluded its annual user conference, where I had the opportunity to interview innovative thinkers on the concept of establishing synergies between these two vital functions.

The comments below reflect how such companies as Elavon, Bell and an industry consultant see speech analytics technology helping the two departments open communications, exchange vital customer and other business intelligence, and move to a more converged approach to sales, service and the customer experience.

Roman Trebon, Senior Manager, Customer LifeCycle Management, Elavon:

"Elavon leverages analytics to determine why a customer dials into our contact center. Software enables us to build categories to identify valuable customer insight, which we can then implement across the business. This affords us the opportunity to start evaluating the reasons why people are calling and then using that 'voice of the customer' insight to influence marketing activities and campaigns, and create more competitive offers to customers.

"Leveraging information between analytics and the enterprise helps the contact center give back to the business lines and our banking partners. We can show them the big picture of what is really going on among the customer base and make a real impact."

Erika Van Noort, Director, Management Consulting, Bell:

"For our organization, and others where we manage the analytics program, the largest connection between marketing and the contact center is through a competitive standpoint. By leveraging software, such as speech analytics, to locate issues or trends, what we have learned is that the competitive landscape is a moving target. Price points, products, fees and offerings are constantly changing and, as a result, create confusion for customers. For example, we may receive a surge in calls on how customers see our competitors offering something we don't provide.

"The best remedy for such remarks is to bring marketing into the customer feedback cycle early on. Acting on trends and getting ahead of the game can be a tremendous step in the right direction. If we're going to launch a new service, we set up our analytics software to report on the pros/cons of the messaging related to the campaign at the onset. From a competitive perspective, if we're alerted to the feedback coming into the contact center, we can act accordingly and in a way that doesn't fight with our brand."

Brynn Palmer, The Customer Experience Doctor:

"The convergence between marketing and the contact center is not happening fast enough, in my opinion. Many contact centers and departments outside of customer service still struggle with the advantages tied to becoming partners. Creating relationships between the contact center and product management, marketing and sales can be mutually beneficial, because the contact center is best enabled to present the customer experience. Who could ask for a better focus group in real-time? The organization at-large can reap the benefits of the data and knowledge being passed throughout the contact center via analytics software -- whether it be insight on pricing, packages, products, services and more."

According to the CMO Council's recently released and fourth annual "State of Marketing Report," 62% of respondents surveyed claim they plan to focus on analyzing customer data to improve segmentation and targeting. Palmer shares, "This is clear validation that contact centers are capturing valuable data and starting to use it to influence marketing campaigns, product direction and sales outreach.

"Having been in the customer service industry for more than 20 years, it's amazing to see that a sense of partnership and collaboration is starting to take place cross-departmentally. It's the only way to make things successful for the back-office teams, frontline agents and customers -- a win-win for all."

Customer service is no longer just about customer satisfaction -- it is about building and maintaining customer relationships and creating new selling opportunities. Increasingly, companies, like the ones detailed above, are using insightful customer data generated through traditional customer service avenues in their marketing and sales organizations. Today, it takes more of an integrated approach with clear lines of communication across departments that help identify challenges and opportunities by directly listening in to what your customers are telling you.

Marketers must partner with their fellow departments to learn what customers really want from your organization. With this type of communication, information sharing and collaboration, you can be better equipped now than ever before to deliver on both your customers' wants and needs, and your businesses' bottom lines.

2 comments about "Challenging The Synergy Between Marketing And Customer Service ".
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  1. Deven Shah, June 17, 2010 at 7:12 p.m.

    Very nice post. I enjoyed reading it.

    One of the fundamental premise of marketing always should be how do I retain my current customers and sell more to them. And what better way to do that than understand their needs, and serve them better.

    How do you grow with customer effectively? Solve problem(s) they have. And how do you know what problem(s) they have? "Listen" to them. And customer service people can be huge asset with that.

  2. D. daniel Ziv from Verint, July 2, 2010 at 5:30 p.m.

    Thanks Deven for your comment – I agree.
    When customers speak to customer service representatives they believe they are speaking with the company and expecting to be heard by all departments including marketing, especially when we tell them “this call is being recorded”. All we have to do is deliver on that expectation.

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