Better customer experience is a key growth advantage. In order to retain the customers you’ve worked so hard to acquire, you have to deliver.
With great power, comes great responsibility. Whether you want to attribute that quote to Voltaire or Peter Parker’s uncle in Spiderman, it’s true for anyone delivering customer support or working directly with customers.
Step 1 to building any product, agency, service, marketplace, etc., you need customers. You wouldn’t be able to offer a product or service without them. The people on your team who interact day-to-day with your customers can’t be placed in a silo where their only responsibility is to hit reply and send on customer queries. If this sounds like your customer support team now, you’re going to lose these customers.
A Marketing and Support partnership is incredibly powerful for a number of reasons. Below, we have a few detailed out with support from Kevan Lee, the Director of Marketing at Buffer and Dani Arnold, the former Director of Support at OpenTable.
#1: Support Should Inform Content Strategy
“In terms of partnership and influence, there are a couple ways where we’ve experienced a really great connection between marketing and support. The first is with knowledge share. For us, this comes in many forms, perhaps the most common is support informing the types of content we write about. We want to write content that solves problems for users, and our support team knows those problems better than anyone.”
— Kevan Lee, Director of Marketing at Buffer
You support team is inundated on a daily basis with questions from customers. Use this to your advantage by implementing process for your support team to share these questions with your marketing team. This will make for the best content because your customer team has already validated that your customers are on the search for it. Creating useful information for your customers is a great experience but it also helps with organic search rankings if your customers are already searching for this information.
Trello is a great resource where your marketing and support teams can create a shared board and track the questions coming in. For example, Buffer is a tool that allows you to schedule social media posts across multiple networks with one click. Imagine the support team kept getting the question ‘How often should I post?’ alongside questions about setting up the schedule. By creating a card in Trello and tracking the number of times this question comes up and linking to the customer support email, the marketing and content team could then use this as a resource once they start writing.
#2: Collaborate on Creating and Updating Customer Personas
Both the marketing and customer support team can benefit from building customer personas. Both teams gather data and feedback from customers and can build profiles that help the company define its audience. Where the marketing team is likely to lean on data and analytics from tools like Google Analytics and Facebook Ads, the customer support team can supplement these customer data points with qualitative information — they can put a voice to the numbers.
At Tuff, when we start working with a new client to help them with customer acquisition, our first step is to do a deep dive into their support channels and communication to learn more about their current customers. What is the first question someone asks in live chat? What words do they use to describe their problems? How technologically advanced are they? These questions are important and your support team has all the information you need to answer these questions.
When you create customer personas, you can’t just share it once and set it aside. To continue using it as a resource, work the language into your meetings and conversations. A customer persona is represented by one person, say “Sally” to represent a larger customer base. When your customer support team is starting to get an influx of questions from “Sally” customers, they can let the marketing team know which then will let them better target “Sally”.
#3: Share Responsibility of Social Media Channels
“The second way to partner is with shared responsibilities. At Buffer, marketing and support share a social media engagement inbox; marketing gains a ton from the interactions that the support team has on social media posts, blog content, etc., and we’re able to form connections around a common part of both our jobs.”
— Kevan Lee, Director of Marketing at Buffer
Using social media as a two way street, rather than a megaphone, can improve customer retention. A natural part of your marketing teams content strategy is going to be sharing that content on social media. You can’t just put your content out there and walk away, you need to be there to engage and discuss any questions or thoughts. Your content and social strategy will get better when you’re listening to qualitative the reactions people have to them rather than just ‘clicks’, ‘likes’, ‘shares’, etc.
By sharing social media responsibilities and regularly discussing this strategy, your support team can inform your marketing team on the reactions certain content is getting as well as provide feedback on how to improve.
#4: Supercharge Your Sales Cycle With Quick Feedback
“It’s really about shifting from “the cost center” to being seen as a partner. [Our support team] started reporting on other teams’ impact on our volume internally to help us with forecasting. But when we started to notice trends in regions, or specific sales reps or products, we decided to expand that reporting, we offered suggestions based on what we heard from the customers directly. This bloomed into quarterly feedback sessions, and the more facetime my team had with other areas of the company, it became easier to have them included and thought of as projects were developing rather than afterthoughts and na-sayers.”
— Dani Arnold, former Director of Support at OpenTable
Once you’ve gained a new customer, moving forward, the majority of their interactions with your team are going to be with the customer support or success team. Depending on how your company acquires customers, their first questions as a new customer are a huge opportunity. If they talked to a sales agent on the phone, what questions went unanswered? If they signed up from a Facebook ad, what made them click? What is the problem your product or service is helping them solve?
Having your marketing and support teams working closely together, brings these questions to top of mind. If your support team is aware of the marketing teams goals, they can bring this into their work and how they communicate and learn from customers.
#5: Work Together on New Product or Feature Releases
The support team is there to do just that, support. It’s their job to be prepared for an influx of customer questions, remain flexible, and support customers.
At the same time, you can be strategic with when your marketing team releases a big announcement or launches a new feature or product. Maybe your support team is typically at full capacity on Thursday mornings. Depending on their weekend coverage, Monday morning might be better than Friday afternoon.
Whoever is managing any announcement to your customers from the marketing team, needs to include meeting with the support manager a number of times in the process. While timing of the announcement is a helpful to partner on, there are also a number of other areas to cover: what language do customer typically use when talking about this? What other questions might come up from announcing this that we can answer pro-actively, etc. It will also let your support team do some work in advance and have answer to expected questions already written up and ready to go. This is a great way to wow your customers.
Over to you…
Consistency when interacting with a company is a great way to promote an exceptional customer experience. By breaking down silos between teams and encouraging close collaboration, you’ll get this. If this isn’t happening already, have a member of your marketing and support team meet on a bi-weekly basis and start practicing these 5 tactics.
How does your marketing and customer support team work together? What’d we miss?
If you’d like to apply these steps to your team but need a more formal game plan, join Tuff for a free 30-minute growth strategy session.