How Leading Companies Achieve Marketing & Service Alignment

Marketing is no longer solely responsible for customer acquisition. In fact, mature marketers are expanding their focus to encompass customer engagement across the customer lifecycle. Our State of Salesforce report found that 65% of marketers are measured on customer retention, and 57% are measured on cross-sell and upsell.

The traditional marketing funnel now looks much more like a loyalty loop.

Loyalty Loop

Because of this, marketers need to work with their counterparts in service closer than ever before. But how are the best companies doing it?

I posed this question to two of Bluewolf’s thought leaders: Tom Gaydos, Director of Marketing Services, and Bob Furniss, Customer Care Practice Director.

BG: What does it look like when marketing and service are truly aligned?

TG: Marketing and service tend to focus on certain parts of the customer journey. But when you really think about it, both play an integral role throughout the whole journey. An aligned organization has regular communication and an established feedback loop between marketing and service. 

Some examples of how this works in a truly aligned organization: marketing generates and nurtures, engages with customers to make them loyal customers, then eventually activates advocates. Service materials are often some of the most powerful lead generation materials and can also serve to speed up sales cycles by reinforcing the level of service and support an organization will receive after they sign the agreement. 

Social is another area where alignment is necessary between marketing and service. While marketing may run the primary social identity, consistent brand, language, and tone across every communication channel is important, including support social channels. Language and tone must be consistent, no matter the channel.

BF: I often hear that customer service is the new marketing. Customer service collects a significant amount of customer data that marketing can use to understand how they can better market. Customer service has changed dramatically in the past ten years — consumers and even business buyers are now a part of the opt-in generation. We are quick to share our personal data with companies that add value to our lives (think Amazon or Facebook). But our expectation is that the company will know us when we contact them. We expect both marketing and service to know our story and to communicate in a highly personalized and relevant manner.

BG: What steps should marketing and service take to become more aligned?

TG: Focus on the customer at every single touch point. The only way that these teams can attain true alignment is to map out a single customer lifecycle, quantified within the marketing automation, CRM, and service systems. Regular communication about what’s working, what’s not, and how to improve is also essential; every email communication, phone call, and chat session should deepen the customer relationship. Knowing what that customer has been experiencing and where they are along their journey is a key part of establishing trust — a quality for which both marketing and service are responsible.

BF: There are three key elements to moving from vision to reality:
1. Technology must be able to gather the right data at the right time. In customer service it includes details like channels and problems identified and how the problems were solved.
2. We must be able to present that data to all “agents” throughout the company — as they service the customer. This starts with the contact center agent, but it also includes other “agents” across the organization that have interactions with the customer, such as sales reps, field reps, distribution, retail, and so forth. Applications must present relevant that helps the agent not only know the basic details of service - but also the sentiment that goes with that service.

BG: What are some tactical ways marketing can support service, and vice versa?

TG: Marketing can make sure that service has access to any intelligence on that customer. Any marketing touchpoint — an email open, an event registration, or a social contest win — should be available to service agents to find and make sense of that information. Even more vital is the role that marketing automation system can play in a service organization. Leveraging the automation and tracking capabilities of the email system for critical alerts, account updates, newsletters, and money saving tips, can provide a wealth of information to the service team.

Service can help marketing by sharing survey data, especially highlights that can be used in campaign efforts. Sharing notable trends in terms of complaints about a product or service can point to inaccurate messaging or improper expectations being set early on. Moreover, support and service content often makes for incredible content for demand generation campaign. Content items such as tutorial videos, informational diagrams, quick-tip or how-to documents can not only educate and entertain, they can demonstrate the depth of support and service you will receive as a customer after the sale.

BF: Tactically, the first step is by far the most important. Customer service and marketing have to talk often about the customer experience. I’ve never met a customer service leader who did not have a nightmare story to tell about how marketing created chaos in their center with a new product or service without adequate communication. A key question to consider is, “How are you building a relationship and putting processes in place to ensure you are included on the front-end of marketing’s plan?”  It is not marketing’s responsibility to tell service about their work — it is service’s responsibility to ask. And it’s up to both to put a structure in place that allows for open, two-way communication.

In the installment of this two-part series, we'll discuss how marketing and service can measure and improve the efficacy of their efforts. Have opinions about marketing and service alignment? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Want to connect with Bob or Tom? Tweet @BobFurniss and @ThomasGaydos. You can also continue the conversation with Bob, who will be speaking on a webcast about Onmi-Channel Customer Service on May 28th. 


Bluewolf, an IBM Company, is a global consulting agency and proven Salesforce strategic partner that builds digital solutions designed to create results. Now.