The battle between technology and the humans who use it has accelerated companies’ inability to deliver excellence to clients, partners and prospects. Why? Because they’re relying on inaccurate and poor data and systems.
Have you ever heard someone say, “I remember the good old days when you had to walk down the hallway and have a face-to-face or just pick up the phone?” The introduction of business applications and electronic communication-tracking methods started in departments, not as end-to-end solutions. The result was the siloing of information that should have been cross functional and has also disconnected us from each other. Our communications suffer as a result.
Marketing delivers the message about why products and services are valuable. Salespeople take that message and turn it into tangible results, and customer-service agents make sure their company delivers on its promises and value proposition. The challenge is an obvious one: when interacting across the entire business, there are massive gaps.
Customers see companies as a single, cohesive entity. They should not have to think about separating departments from one another when reaching out for assistance, but they do.
Why is this a problem?
- They may get different answers to the same question
- There will be multiple points of contact
- There will be inconsistencies in personality and engagement
- They may get voicemail instead of live support
- They may be saying, “Does anyone in the organization really get me?”
This does not bode well for companies that choose to remain siloed; doing so can cost them customers, resources and money. With the introduction of lifecycle marketing methods (educate, add value, learn, repeat), customer engagement departments will be interacting with them throughout the buyer’s cycle, with some potential for overlap.
One of the answers to customers’ challenges is the creation of an internal-feedback loop, partnered with the breaking down of the silos of critical information and centralizing it in a single technology system. Once information is centralized, as in a Customer Relationship Management system (CRM), all departments will have access to that knowledge and can use it to serve prospects and customers.
Many CRM systems have dashboards that show information to marketing, sales and customer-service departments in a manner that best serves their priorities. Marketing resources are gathered from the communication between sales, customer service and customers. The sales team learns how the product adds value for the audience through customer service and product initiatives.
Information detailing all phone calls, emails, appointments and offering interests with companies is documented, educating the rest of the team on the customer’s journey. This permits customer service personnel to go into conversations fully briefed on a client’s products, services and past service interaction, which can help eliminate repetition or duplication of fixes already attempted, saving time and money by avoiding wasted efforts.
Another area in which everyone benefits is consistent messaging across the company. Customers should get the same answer and message irrespective of the department they’re dealing with. While it would be “nirvana” for customers to engage a business and have their requests immediately satisfied by anyone who responds, we are far from being there. However, continued investment in technologies that are department-specific or maintain information silos exacerbates the problem, meaning we move further from nirvana, not closer.
When building your customer experience strategies, engage in a bigger conversation. The company will have a more united team and more loyal customers who will share their experiences with others. Collaboration between sales, marketing and customer service will lead to long-term business success. Interactions will morph from a single siloed touch-point and become a step within the customer’s journey.
When everyone is on the same page, there will be a deeper understanding of the customer’s perspective. Collaboration between the marketing, sales and customer service teams will have customers feeling “they get me.” Sales will have a better understanding of service concerns that surfaced in the past and what messaging piqued customer interest through previous marketing campaigns. It could also be the foot in the door for an up-sell or cross-sell opportunity. For customer-service agents, an understanding of their product history and past interactions will give clues to what customer service concerns might be, allowing agents to answer callers’ questions more quickly and easily.
Technologies like CRM, content and case management and marketing automation can benefit all parties, and even be predictive when a customer reaches out to the company. CRM systems centralize the information for all parties’ benefit; centralized access to customer history can provide a strong base for service concerns and understanding the right up-sell and cross-sell opportunities.
When all parties are focused on the same goal, a combined funnel, retention and loyalty program can grow. In the age of the Internet, customers will be self-led during a large portion of their purchase journey and it’s up to these three teams to work together and make it a positive experience. With collaboration and centralized knowledge, this can be achieved.
About the Author:
TopLine Strategies delivers the complete integration and development of sales, marketing and customer service technologies that enable corporate clientele to improve revenue streams and strengthen customer interactions. Our project management and consulting is designed to achieve timely delivery, 100 percent user adoption of the technologies we implement and deliver measurable returns on investments for our clients.