Passing the Customer Journey Ball
Open communication between our marketing, sales and service teams is crucial for creating the best customer experiences.
Our marketing teams weave dreams showing total customer bliss. The advertising gurus design fabulous brochures, website animations, and send direct mailings to interested prospects. Social media shines! When prospects see these ads and posts, they can’t wait to purchase the items we are selling.
Once the interest is created, our sales representatives follow-up making sure they are timely and make the prospects feel important. They match the prospect’s needs with the best solutions for those needs. The sale is made!
Unfortunately, once the glow of the new sale begins to wane, the customer may feel the promise of excellence crumbling away.
Their sales rep moves back into the active selling role, often ignoring the customer’s attempts to contact them or even worse, acting like any contact from them is a bother when the customer does reach them. Marketing has moved on too, working on posting more information for newer products online and may delay responding to customer complaints or questions asked on social media.
Both marketing and sales may be so focused on the future opportunities that they forget about the total customer journey, beginning to hopefully “no end.”
Our customer service representatives are often caught in the middle when the promises made by marketing or sales don’t match the reality of the customer’s experience. Many times it is due to situations out of their control as frontline service agents, but they must deal with whatever comes their way regardless of the source or ability to control.
Customer service may drop the ball along this customer journey, too. Complaints are made by agents about lack of time or tools to effectively stay in touch with the new customer to make them feel “welcome” and valued. I’ve even seen emails sent to customers saying that the representative was “sorry for being late replying but I have been very busy.”
What does the customer care how busy we are? These types of comments written or said to customers simply add fuel to the fire.
Marketing, sales and service must all communicate effectively for the customer journey to be most successful.
Our service agents may be missing key information regarding updates and changes that have occurred to products or new information listed on the website which the customer asks about during a call or other communication. Marketing needs to make sure that the service teams are given updates as soon as possible to provide them with the confidence and knowledge needed to properly deliver the information to the customers.
Sales reps may not be regularly updating customer information that is needed for customer service agents who handle business-to-business transactions. Some sales reps say they don’t have time to do this, but these communication misses may have a big impact on the customer engagement and continued business.
There is often a lot of “blame” going around internally, and this blaming may be shared with the customer as a way of offering more excuses why something wasn’t right or didn’t happen on a timely basis. Service says it’s sales, sales says it’s marketing, marketing says it’s sales. Round and round they go with the customer being the loser.
We can lessen the blame game and improve communications issues if we focus on prevention rather than clean up:
- Make sure that marketing updates, such as changes to marketing materials, social media and website information, are communicated to service and sales before it goes “live” with customers.
- Provide tools for sales to share customer information including notes, comments, customer interests and concerns with customer service
- Set timely goals for customer follow-up for both sales and service so that both areas know the expectations and timeframes for new and existing customers.
- Have customer experience team meetings including frontline service, sales and marketing employees to brainstorm and share ideas.
- Get your service team involved in customer “welcoming” activities: outbound calls, emails and other contact that’s proactive versus reactive
All the glitzy marketing materials and super sales results mean nothing if we aren’t focused on the complete customer journey from the time they are a marketing targeted prospect through their entire customer process. Finding ways and the time needed to successfully blend marketing, sales and service communications and activities will help you achieve the customer experience quality you are seeking.