The Marketing Tips Trapped Within Your Customer Care Team

1st October 2015

Depending on what source you read, it costs between four and ten times more to recruit a new customer than it does to keep one. So it stands to reason that focus on customer service, and putting the customer at the heart of all marketing strategies, is high on marketers’ lists of priorities, right?

Not necessarily.

According to the latest KPMG/Nunwood report coming out of the Customer Experience Excellence Centre, which analysed over 10,000 customer evaluations of almost 300 brands in the UK, little improvement is being made on the ground.

Overall customer experience in the financial sector has stayed static, utilities are showing no sign of improvements and telecomms is facing a customer experience crisis, with only two of the top 100 representing the sector.

In pursuit of efficiencies (aka cost-cutting), many businesses have created mechanistic, standardised customer care approaches that are a far cry from the personalised products and services initially sold to the public in the company’s creative marcomms. In some cases, it can appear that marketing and customer services are not even on speaking terms.

How can it be possible that in the most technologically connected of times, the joined up thinking between the two departments is often still in the Dark Ages?

Yet the potential benefits go beyond mere customer satisfaction. The KPMG/Nunwood report shows that those in positions 1-10 grew revenues by £43 million more every year than those positioned 11-100. Imagine the financial possibilities!

So if you’re a marketer with any influence beyond mere acquisition (and according to a Bluewolf Global Report, that’s up to 91% of you) here’s some food for thought on how working closely with the people at the frontline of customer service can help you secure some serious financial returns.

 

Ensure They Know What You’re Promoting

It is remarkable how many times you can ring up a call centre to enquire about a product or offer you’ve spotted, only to find the person on the other end of the phone as clueless as a man trying to buy his wife underwear. The answer to this is frustratingly simple. Simple, elegant and absolutely no tassles. Let your care team know what you have planned, when it is going live, when they can expect to hear from customers and how to deal with their enquiries when they do occur. Failure to do so in either case is likely to end in an upset woman (me) shouting in a mess of snot and tears that you don’t understand her.

 

Ask for Feedback on Your Marketing

As marketers, it’s easy for us to sit in splendid isolation from the people to whom we so desperately need to appeal. Pre-advertising focus groups and brand sentiment are all very well and good (especially if the outcome supports the idea you really really wanted to run with) but asking for feedback on the decisions you’ve already taken can be terrifying. It doesn’t mean you have to pull your campaign if the bellwether tinkles resoundingly negatively (unless of course customers think they have been misled) but it does mean you can use this information to inform future campaigns. And hey, in a world of instant digital comms, perhaps you can even turn the calamity into a virtue by admitting your mistakes.

 

Ask for Feedback on Your Products

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and whilst there may be elements of your product or service you think customers value most highly, the reality may be completely different. Perhaps there’s a particular aspect that you’re downplaying that actually has the greatest appeal? Maybe there are variations dependent on the audience type, life-stage, demographic etc, which will enable you to tailor communications accordingly. In a job that’s all about saying the right thing to the right people at the right time, you’ll be much better equipped to do that by asking what people want to hear.

 

Stop Marketing to Stereotypes

Your customer care department can really help you to understand your potential customers. Rather than appealing to the cardboard cut-outs we generally use to make sense of our ‘target market’ (Sandra is 23-35 years of age, likes baking, archery and historical novels infused with a creeping sense of melancholy), just remember they are speaking to creatures of flesh and blood, all the time, and likely know more about them than you can ever dream of getting from a pen portrait and a stock Getty Images picture.

 

Create a Social Media Supergroup

Whilst social channels are generally the responsibility of marketing departments, we are increasingly turning to Twitter to vent our frustrations about being in a never-ending queue with a service provider who claims our call is really important to them, but not important enough to staff up to be able to take it within a reasonable timeframe. In these instances having the same person who’s just tweeted about the marketing department’s cake sale trying to resolve your personal financial crisis lacks credibility. Working together to create a system by which care-related enquiries can be dealt with by the people most able to do so effectively delivers a much better experience all-round.

 

Identify Useful Ambassadors

Since God was a boy, marketers have been using testimonials from existing customers to help attract new ones. It’s still working. Get your customer care team to identify instances where customers were happy, surprised or delighted with the service they received and ask for a quote from them. Even better, ask them to provide online reviews. You could even incentivise the team to do it to help expedite the process.

 

So there you have it. A very brief look at how you can create more customer focussed (and thus financially rewarding) marketing strategies using the people who know them best.

And if that all sounds too much like hard work, there’s an even easier place to start – with yourself. Become a customer for your brand and experience the process, warts and all. Get put on hold. Be forced to go around the houses. Stand in a store like a virgin at a swinging party hoping that someone notices you whilst the staff chat amongst themselves. Even just a sample of one can offer genuine enlightenment…

 

Posted by Sal Thomas, Creative Planner at Blue Chip