[Editor’s note: We’re pleased to share this blog post in collaboration with Sageflo, a team of technology and services professionals with decades of experience supporting the needs of marketing teams at the world’s leading brands. Through our partnership, we help marketers manage their campaigns more efficiently and effectively, in order to drive ROI and enhance customer experience. Contributors: Bernice Fung, Aaron Smith, Amanda Folino, Randy Kershner]
The COVID-19 pandemic has presented brands and companies with a constantly changing set of challenges when it comes to communicating and engaging with their customers. More than ever, it’s critical for companies to ensure the experiences they provide meet with shifting consumer expectations. Trust, empathy, credibility – these have all taken on heightened importance. In this new environment, it’s critical that customer care and marketing teams are aligned. By being in lockstep with each other, these teams can help each other significantly, while providing the consistent and meaningful experience customers are seeking.
Keeping the Conversation Going
Every interaction a customer has with your company is part of an ongoing conversation; one that needs to be consistent and connected. That’s especially true with customer care – and it’s all the more important during the time we’re in now. Customer care agents are being inundated with requests during the pandemic. With everyone staying home, people are making more calls to order online, or for relevant inquiries resulting from the crisis. One global tech company that develops conversational commerce and AI software reported an overall conversation volume jump by about 20% between mid-February and mid-March, with verticals like airlines and hotels experiencing 96% and 130% climbs, respectively (Venturebeat.com, March 19, 2020) – and that was early on in the pandemic.
Communications from customer service and customer care are becoming more prominent and important. Consequently, agents need better insight and solutions to help them engage more effectively with customers. They need to be able to span communication channels and have visibility to what marketing is doing, so each interaction is a meaningful part of that larger conversation. Real-time visibility into what a customer has received and their engagement with a brand means that many requests can be answered by a customer care agent in minutes vs. days, which is vital in times like these.
Bridging the Gap: Marketing & Customer Care United
A consumer’s experience with the customer care team has a huge impact on their perception of a brand – and it can make or break their relationship with a company. That’s why it’s crucial for these teams to share information. Your care team needs to know what marketing is doing and how they can surface info back to the marketing teams, in order to deliver a truly connected, holistic experience. And marketing data must be available to call center agents, so they have the relevant information they need to earn trust and to present hyper-personalized offers. Contact, interaction and transaction histories need to be tied with CRM data, web preferences and behaviors, to drive truly connected, holistic customer and employee experiences.
What tends to happen instead is a scenario like this, as shared by analyst Zeus Kerravala on CIO.com:
“Marketing might proactively reach out to buyers via email, mobile push, phone, direct mail, or other channels to inform customers of a sale, product updates, events, or something else that’s noteworthy. If the customer replies, that interaction goes into the contact center where the agent has no knowledge of the outbound activity.”
Providing better visibility into customer messaging helps both customer care and marketing teams reduce friction and data silos. “Bringing these historical silos together,” according to Kerravala, “enables organizations to have a full view of the customer journey and discover key insights into the data that can be used to provide better recommendations to the customer.”
Customer Care: Your Organization’s Secret Weapon
When marketing and customer care are working as one united team, the role of call center agents is elevated. Customer care teams are often the front line when it comes to sales and marketing. Call centers are not just there to appease customers. Armed with real-time insights, agents can proactively engage customers and offer unique sales opportunities by sharing relevant product recommendations. Also, customers may at times be calling in for a higher level of service; particularly when it comes to travel and sometimes in retail – and especially in the wake of the pandemic. People aren’t always comfortable engaging online in chat or with a bot, and may need a little more personal assistance – and assurance – involving certain information or more detailed transactions, as with a multi-step travel package (once we all start traveling again!).
CX: One for All & All for One
Working customer insights into the fabric of contact center operations promotes the idea that CX is an organization-wide responsibility. Marketing and customer care can lead the way, by recognizing that it’s a two-way street: marketers benefit by listening to and gleaning insights from the care team and vice versa.
You don’t need to make monumental changes in your organization to see benefits quickly. You can start with pilot programs, small investments in technologies, and focused teams that can trial new approaches to find quick wins that can then be rolled out on a broader scale. These teams need to be empowered to make decisions quickly and be willing to change tack when necessary.
It won’t take long, once you’ve started the journey, to begin seeing the benefits, leading to a virtuous feedback loop of improved communication between your teams. The outcome is higher customer satisfaction on the care team side, and greater understanding of customers’ needs on the marketing side. And ultimately, it moves the organization closer to the goal: to have every department sharing ownership of customer experience and considering what more can be done company-wide to enhance every experience.