The phrase “Customer Service is the new Marketing” isn’t just a catchy platitude, it’s a reality! Recently I was reading the latest Gartner Magic Quadrant report on “the Customer Engagement Centre”.It became even clearer to me than ever that what is now known as the “CEC” - while once a neglected corner of your business, should today be at the front line of your brand’s entire go-to-market strategy.

Customer Service is Growing

As Gartner calls out, the dramatic growth of Service Cloud revenue over the past few years is evidence that customer service is a growing. This wasn’t always the case. Six years ago when we launched the Service Cloud there was a genuine risk of it being initially perceived as secondary to the higher profile Sales Cloud. But today, our Service, Sales and Marketing Clouds are merging, because the lines between them aren’t just blurred, they have disappeared altogether.

We have found that because of the blurred lines between, particularly, sales and service; it is an holistic approach to customer engagement that brings the most success.

The Ability to Manage a Customer Through All Touch Points is Essential

Most sales and marketing activity today is automated, and the customer is engaging a brand across as many as six or seven different channels (from web to mobile to email to Facebook).  So the ability to centrally manage all touch points to deliver an experience that is not only consistent, but real time, is essential. If one hand of the business is carefully managing a customer complaint while the other hand reaches out to the same customer with poorly timed sales offer, the impact can be very damaging to brand reputation.

Here are Four Reasons Why Customer Service Needs to be Front-and-Centre:

  1. Consistency: Customer engagement must be a consistent experience across all touch points. And, it MUST be Omni-channel – where the customer is able to choose through which channel they engage a brand, with no variation in quality or efficacy of the transaction.
  2. Transparency: The newly-public nature of customer service because of social media and a mobile first culture means that news of bad customer service reaches more than twice as many ears as praise for a good service.
  3. Retention: There’s always this most compelling of statistics: “acquiring a new customer is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one.” 
  4. Opportunity: While customer service used to be consigned the position of ‘necessary business cost centre’, it now carries the greatest risk for a business’ brand and reputation. But equally it is also a huge opportunity. Typically, a happily-engaged customer will spend up to 30 per cent more with a brand.

So managing customer outreach through - as Gartner says - ‘an intelligent system for CRM case management’ is incredibly important. Integrating social listening with your CRM (using Marketing Cloud technology) means negative references can be quickly routed through case management to satisfactory resolution, and positive comments can also be nurtured into leads.

One company doing this very well using Salesforce is TOMS shoes.

“We care about customer happiness, satisfaction, and long term relationships. Salesforce will give us a view of every facet of our customer interactions.”

Check out their case study here

When the buyer’s decision is so heavily influenced by peer-to-peer recommendations in the connected world, capturing customer advocacy - and mitigating negative reviews - is a powerful form of marketing. Critical to success in this field is therefore effective customer service.