The Divide Between Customer Service and Marketing Is Costing Your Business

Customer experiences are shaped by everyone in the business, including sales, marketing, service, and the back office. Even third parties, such as channel partners distributing company products, indirectly influence customer sentiment and behavior. The rise of social media, however, has particularly diminished the lines between customer service and marketing.

Businesses and consumers use social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Yelp!, Angie's List, and Twitter, to share positive and negative experiences. A positive Facebook mention provides a company with free marketing, whereas a negative Tweet pollutes the company's brand image and can result in lost net-new business opportunities. A customer rant about a poorly handled service interaction might cost the business more in lost revenue than the incremental revenue gained by its marketing programs. The figure below shows that companies that align customer service and marketing programs are far less likely to observe such risks.

Aligning Service & Marketing is the Right Move for Customer Satisfaction

Companies that align service and marketing programs around the customer are truly rewarded by their clientele. Specifically, they report 55 percent greater annual increase in customer satisfaction rates (11.9 percent vs. 7.7 percent) than those where service and marketing operate in silos. As happy customers are more likely to be retained, buyers working with firms where service and marketing are in sync are also more loyal. In fact, data shows that these firms enjoy 7.6 times greater annual increase in customer retention (11.4 percent vs. 1.5 percent) rates, compared to all others.

In addition to being more loyal, happy buyers are also more likely to share positive word of mouth about businesses that meet and exceed their needs. To this point, companies with customer service and marketing alignment achieve 19 percent annual increase in the number of positive social media mentions (31 percent vs. 26.1 percent). This is important, as social media has become a litmus test of sorts in helping customers evaluate product/service providers. For example, Yelp! reviews can have a significant impact on the success or failure of companies in the restaurant industry. Therefore, aligning service and marketing activities can be considered a strategy to ensure businesses' long-term survival.

Businesses that sync their service and marketing programs benefit from doing so across a variety of financial measures. They achieve 2.8 times greater annual increase in company revenue, compared to all others (25.6 percent vs. 9 percent). This growth is supported by sales teams across these firms enjoying 41 percent greater annual growth in their attainment of quota (51.2 percent vs. 36.3 percent).

Sellers can sell more because aligning service and marketing programs helps firms better understand customer needs that are often captured through service activities. When this understanding is translated into delivery of personalized and consistent marketing programs, companies enjoy revenue growth. To this point, companies with service and marketing alignment achieve far superior annual gains in revenue improvements from both net-new customers and client referrals, compared to those that lack such alignment.

Having seen some of the many benefits of customer service and marketing alignment, you might be asking how to accomplish this in your business. Check out the Customer Service & Marketing Alignment study to learn how best-in-class firms tightly align their marketing and service activities to deliver superior customer experiences.

Omer Minkara is a vice president and principal analyst at Aberdeen Group. Follow him on Twitter at @omerminkara.