Is marketing the new customer service or is customer service the new marketing?


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That’s the question posed to Marsha Collier by Guy Kawasaki in an American Express Open Forum interview. Marsha is author of The Ultimate Online Customer Service Guide: How to Connect with Your Customers to Sell More, and responded:

Marketing and customer service go arm in arm. We can say that customer service is the new marketing, but marketing encompasses so much more. In 21st century commerce, customer service must fulfill the promises made by the company’s marketing efforts.

Marsha is so right! But just what does this look like in practice?

When marketing is the new customer service:

  • You are selling peace of mind long after the sale, and that is a big part of the brand promise. A repairman came to fix my Vizio TV recently, almost one year after purchase. I admit, we had low expectations that they would do much, and we went back and forth on wether they had really fixed the problem. But when they couldn’t reliably fix an internal receiver component to our satisfaction, they offered to send out a new TV. I bought the TV based on features of the product; now I know that customer service could have been played up even more.

When customer service is the new marketing:

  • You either establish a very credible basis for customers to hear new marketing messages OR you effectively train customers not to trust anything marketing communicates. In my case the customer service personnel were really supportive and knowledgable during our initial calls; they even made follow up calls to see if the techs had come and met our expectations. If they were to contact me again, once the situation is resolved, I’d be willing to entertain a pitch not only about what else they are doing to enhance quality of their products, but also to consider an extended warranty. After all, they’ve just shown me that they stand behind their warranty.

In an earlier post, I used the analogy of the lighthouse and the port: marketing is the lighthouse and customer service is the port. If they aren’t aligned then prospects learn that the marketing message isn’t real and customers get angry at service representatives for not living up to expectations created by the marketing group.

When marketing and customer service are well aligned, it’s a beautiful thing! But how often has that been your experience?

Where have you seen marketing and customer service reinforce a common message?

How have you seen them work at cross purposes and out of alignment?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Marc Sokol
A psychologist with an eye for the ways organizational dynamics make it possible or impossible to delight customers, I see the world from the eyes of customers, employees and leaders who strive to transform customer experience.


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