Melding Marketing And CX In The Post-Covid World

By Lee Cottle, Director, General Manager - Europe at Playvox

Customers are the life source of any business, and any business with a contact centre realises that the relationship with their customers does not end at the point of purchase. Over the past 18 months, the role of customer service has altered, with individuals expecting and often demanding a greater service. We are in a new age of customer-centricity, and we need to adapt.

How is customer-centricity growing post-Covid?

In the midst of 2020 with Covid-19 lockdowns in place, consumer habits began changing. The way we lived our lives, both professionally and personally were uprooted. Long-held routines upended and social connections cut. But as we approach 2022 and recovery continues we are beginning to discover that some of these changes are remaining in place.

Released earlier this year, a McKinsey report analysing the spending behaviour of British spenders revealed a -19% drop in spending on services. Meanwhile industries such as e-groceries, virtual healthcare, and home-nesting blossomed. Throughout it all was the internet.

Contact centres of the past could focus their attention on phone calls and mail, but today the internet adds a myriad of additional contact sources. For your customers, and for you. As new contact channels grew, the line between the role of a customer service professional and marketer began to grow faint, bringing us to 2021.

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How are marketing and customer service merging?

Over the past two years you will likely have received an email from the CEO of a large organisation detailing how they are getting through the tough period. Maybe it was the head of a supermarket or a JIT-based subscription service. That personal touch is a trend that has boomed since 2019. It is also a sign of the confluence emerging between marketing and customer service.

Taking 10 minutes to write an email that can be distributed widely helped soothe anxious shoppers, it provided a face to a name and a source of information. Take a look back at those emails and you are likely to spot a string of social media logos attached too. It is here that a new battleground for disgruntled customers has developed.

In theory, social media is a place for friends and family to connect online when apart. To share pictures, stories, and jokes. But for companies it is big business. Last year Facebook saw worldwide revenues of $84.2bn from adverts alone. Your customers live on these networks, and they are complaining, praising, and promoting your wares. So it is only right to be where the action is.

Social media is now a significant source of customer service interactions

Each month over a billion messages are sent between people and businesses on Facebook. Never before has your social media marketing team needed to work so closely with the customer service team to provide a parallel experience. Zendesk statistics show that throughout the pandemic social media tickets jumped by 26%, live chat by 27%, and WhatsApp by 219%.

What do these three channels have in common? They are quick, instantaneous in most cases. Customers are demanding speedier and more convenient service that can be carried out without the need to ring at specific times and hanging on hold waiting for an operator. Therefore it is time to analyse how you approach these channels for a few reasons:

  • Contact centres represent your brand, and social media portrays a real-time view of public perception of that brand. With the right approach you can stem poor publicity whilst aiding existing customers.
  • Taking a proactive view of social channels can help build your following as a company, building prospective buyers and creating brand ambassadors through your work.
  • It is often said that the cost of acquiring a new buyer is five times that of retaining an existing one. Entwining the marketing and customer service via social channels is an effective way to do both at the same time.

The size of your business and the number of employees available to dedicate to this approach will impact how well you can adopt this thinking. But to save some money you must not enter the equation blind.

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Pick your battles

We all have an idea of the demographics our business reaches. Taking a look at this data is imperative before deciding to invest in social media channels. For example, a technology company offering innovative virtual reality headsets are likely to skew towards an audience of 18-35 whereas a model train set creator will attract an older customer base. These two groups exist in separate realms online.

For example, data from Sprout Social identified Facebook’s primary audience as 25-34, Twitter does well with 30-49, LinkedIn dominates the 46-55 range while TikTok predictably sees the youngest audience with 18-24. Deciphering which demographics your business attracts will dictate your social route.

Once achieved there are a few simple rules that we have uncovered while working with social-focused CX teams to adhere to. Consider these to be best practice:

  • Answer customer questions publicly, and encourage a wider conversation where possible to drive engagement – One survey shows 88% of customers who do not receive a reply from a company will not make a purchase.
  • Respond professionally no matter the initial comment – It can be easy to forget that while replying to messages you are still representing the company at large.
  • Keep it quick and concise – People use social media for a fast response, they do not want pointing towards a phone number or email address.
  • When starting, keep track of common questions – You can build a bank of ready-to-go answers and track areas of the business that people are struggling with.

Technology over the past decade has exploded with innovation. For contact centres and customer experience teams keeping track of ever-changing contact channels is now a non-stop task. Retaining a sense of customer-centricity throughout is the one thread that holds us together. If we lose track of what and where the customers are, we lose their custom. Without their custom, there is no reason for us being here at all.

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