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Why Digital Customer Service is the New Marketing

by Vit Horky

If orange is the new black and 40 is the new 30, then digital customer service is the new marketing.

To understand why that's important and what it should mean for companies, it's necessary to get an idea of how marketing and customer service have been siloed and why this has harmed both departments.

In principle, marketing and customer service would seem to be at cross purposes. Marketing tries to get customers' attention, while customer service seeks to deflect customers' attention.

But marketing and customer service already share a very important link: the customer. While these departments may differ in how they handle customers, it's vital that they recognize their shared aim—to communicate purposefully with customers—and use that as a basis for cooperation. If businesses are to continue to grow, there need to be clear lines of communication and collaboration between customer service and marketing.

Why great customer service is also advertising

Since the advent of digital customer service, there has been a very important shift in the way that brands work with customers, both on the service side and in marketing. This has to do with the ease of communication on the internet and the way customers talk about their brand experiences via social media. Conversely, it's also about how the brand communicates to customers. Let's look at some stats:

  • More than 50% of unhappy customers tell friends and family about poor customer service (ClickFox)

  • 13% of unhappy customers tell 15 or more people (Kolsky)

  • 72% of happy customers tell 6 or more people (Kolsky)

  • 67% of customers say bad service is a reason for churn, but only 1 in 26 customers complains to the company (Kolsky)

What the stats make overwhelmingly clear is that customers are more likely to talk about bad experiences than good ones. That puts the impetus on brands to provide customers with service and interactions that inspire positive emotions. But what about the other side of the coin, what about good customer experiences?

We all know stories of bad customer service that have gone viral. On the other hand, we also know stories of great service. In fact, Zappos has built a very successful business based on providing great customer service (and decent shoes). That's how social customer service and marketing are beginning to intersect: great service can do the advertising for you, through word-of-mouth.

Key point: Customers talk about their service experiences, so great customer service can be a form of advertising.

The crossroads of marketing and customer service

In the old days, there was no disconnect between marketing and customer service, in part because there was no disconnect between companies and customers. Customer service interactions all took place face-to-face, on a personal level. If the customer had a good experience, they would recommend the business to others.

But somewhere in the digital age, this inherent connection between departments was broken. It's time to bring the two sides back together. With digital customer service technology, we can collapse the digital barrier as we utilize call center software to return us to the quality and personalization of face-to-face communication, with all the speed and efficiency of digital communication.

I'm not talking about putting marketers in the contact center, or customer service agents in the boardroom. Instead, we need a fundamental shift in the way we think about customer service and marketing, and the role of both. At the same time, brands must realize how social media necessitates a change in the tone and style of communication. Customers, not brands, have control of the social space, and that means marketing is about more than tweeting advertisements.

Key point: Social media is a quickly developing public forum. The way customers speak to brands and to one another must influence both customer service and marketing.

Why CX is more important than price

Mark Hillary of the CX Files recently interviewed me about an omnichannel experience and putting the customer first. By having a digital first mindset, contact centers can seamlessly talk to customers across platforms, so the customer gets answers quickly on the channel of their choice.

Over the next year, more companies are expected to compete based on customer experience than price. So, one of the central methods that marketers have always used to differentiate their brand from others that sell the same product will soon be defunct. But it's not simply the end of something, it's a new beginning.

Customers are willing to pay more for products from companies that provide excellent customer service and experience. In addition, they're more loyal to companies and spend more with companies that inspire positive emotions. So great customer service, and the customer experience that comes along with it, is one of the biggest assets a company can have. More than ever, the marketing department needs to understand that, as does the C-Suite.

Investing in digital customer service isn't just something you do to satisfy customers. Great customer service is a key way to differentiate from the competition and to attract new customers. Sounds a lot like marketing, right?

Key point: Customers are more interested in great service than great prices, so customer service is a huge asset that will attract new customers if done right.

Interested in learning other ways the digital age is changing customer expectations? Check out our webinar, Digital – First Customer Service: The Future is Here Today.



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