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May 6, 2011 / jasonpinto

Fixing the Divide: Marketing and Customer Support

Divided by the Fence

What does the world think of your company’s brand?

If you were to ask that question to your marketing and customer support departments today, would their answers be in sync?

In the case of many organizations, there is a divide between those two groups. Their answers to that question may be based on completely different items — marketing may be basing their answer on website traffic reports, Retweets, and the open rates from their latest email effort. On the other hand, customer support folks may be basing their answer on the tone of the latest email or phone call that they’ve received from clients.

Certainly, the responsibilities and day-to-day actions of these departments differ. But our brand is really only as good our last transaction with a customer — no matter what department caused it.

Thus, more than ever before, marketing and customer support departments must find a way to share information freely and work in sync.

Here are a couple of examples of why this needs to be done:

  • Are people asking for help or complaining about your products & services on Twitter or Facebook? If so, that information must be in the hands of customer service folks.
  • Are customers asking for help and advice on the same things over and over again? If so, the marketing department should know so that they can create content that answers the questions and  is easily accessible.
  • When does the customer support team hear about an event or promotion that marketing is publicizing — is it when a customer asks them about it on the phone? Or do they have that information in advance before they are caught off-guard?

If a divide current exists in your organization, you will certainly need to find ways to fix that. Here are a few ways that this can be done without completely disrupting their daily schedules (“mandatory 4-hour meeting every day!!”, anyone?):

  • Develop an internal social network — Whether it’s Yammer, a private Facebook Group, or some other tool, create an easy, online system that both departments can use to engage with each other and share information.
  • Share Horror Stories — Okay, we certainly don’t love having horror stories inside of our company, but they can make an impact. If there is an example of a customer blabbing negatively about a company’s service on their blog, and no one in the company knows about it for days or weeks, that is a bad thing. But it is the type of story that will make  employees cringe — and then motivate them to take actions to prevent it from happening again.
  • Provide Incentives for Working Together — This does not have to always come in the form of dollars. But no matter what, find ways to commend, applaud, and promote the successes that happen when those two departments start working more closely together.
  • Allow Them to See the Whites of Each Other Eyes — Alright, I certainly am not trying to encourage long, drawn-out meetings where nothing is ever accomplished (except for sore backs, sighing, and doodling). But, find ways to bring the employees together from time-to-time. Allow them to experience what it’s like to sit in the shoes of someone from the other department. Help them to develop personal relationships with each other.

Brand Control

Companies may no longer have the same level of control over their brand as they did in years past.

However, by making concerted efforts to have departments work closely together, we will be well on our way to ensuring that customers and prospects share a positive impression of our brand.

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