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Marketing is Smart, Customer Service is Submissive

Posted on : 02-02-2010 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Business, Customer Service

3

I have been doing a lot of thought about the convergence of PR, Marketing, and Customer Service. I think, as Esteban Kolsky has pointed out, it is more the organization coming together in a more social way. A flattening of the overall organization. Marketing will still be marketing, PR will still be PR and Customer Service will be Customer Service.  In my mind the theory of converging marketing, PR and Customer Service, is really just another way that shows how smart marketing people are. I used to work with a guy who believed the more you controlled the more important you are to the company. He loved to gain responsibility of more areas, even if he did not understand them, because it made him more indispensable to the company. As I thought about him I started to envision marketers worrying about losing control or status as they watched the ineffectiveness of campaigns and the increase to word of mouth advertising.  I can picture one of them saying, “the world has changed, and we are going to change with it…Customer Service must be part of marketing so we can navigate this new world order properly.”

Customer Service by its very nature tries to appease their Customers. The trouble is sometimes their Customers may vary dramatically. We all know and understand the external Customer, but what we often do not discuss the internal Customer, and their impact on the external Customer. Customer service usually services every area of an organization. Research comes to them to learn more about the Customers needs, marketing seeks help in improving effectiveness of marketing material, finance is always looking for a savings. You probably have heard Customer Service called a “Cost Center” or some like to think of it more as a “Sales Center.” Again this is Customer service bowing to others thoughts about the costs of service, or a means to justify the existence. It is time we put our foot down, we are a “Service Center.” It is our goal to help our external Customers get the most out of our products and create an experience that builds Customer loyalty and dedication.

Marketing grabbed the seat at the table with the Chief Marketing Officer, a position I understand and respect. Marketing is an important part of any organization. At the same time, Customer Service is ultimately the most important part. But service has never really pushed for the seat at the table. They never pushed back on policies, processes, or other things that were pushed down creating a bad experience for those external Customers. Service organizations worked to get more efficient at the request of the financial folks, and in many cases became ineffective at serving the external Customers properly.

It is time for Customer Service to say “no more.”

  • ‘No more’ agreeing to goals that take away from the Customer experience
  • ‘No more’ allowing policies and procedures to be dictated down without proper discussion of the impact they will have
  • ‘No more’ trying to justify the existence of the Customer Service organization; the Customer has already justified it for you

Its time for Customer Service to:

  • Make the Customer story central to decision making; every leader must understand the impact of their decisions on the Customer
  • We have to define our goals and strategies to the leaders of the company
  • Recognize that the Customer Service Agent is an integral part of the success of the company; inspire them to be successful and not a cog in the wheel
  • Share ideas, feedback and calls upward
  • Identify the right measurements for your service organization, one that sets the tone to get it right for your Customers.
  • Learn to say ‘No’ to internal Customers when no value is derived for the external Customer

It is time for Customer Service to show a new attitude.  Many want it, but Customers demand it.