Marketing and Customer Service: Enemies or Allies?

3506049918_25fd7fe2ee_mBtoBOnline recently published a summation of a Korn/Ferry Marketing Pulse Survey. The survey asked 124 senior marketing executives what was top of mind in terms of concerns. You might be surprised to learn that the most cited concern among these marketing executives was customer engagement at 52%. Taking advantage of digital was second (29%), acquiring digital-savvy talent was third (11%) and dealing with budgetary issues was the least cited concern at just 9%.

In this context, the marketing executives defined customer engagement as maintaining long-term relationships with customers and providing really effective customer service experiences. Given these concerns, it may not surprise you that 35% of the respondents said that marketing “owns” customer experience and engagement. Only 28% said customer service was handled by multiple departments in the company.

Is this what CMOs should be most focused on? And should “ownership” of customer experience fall to just one department anyway?

Terms Defined

In 2007 the American Marketing Association established the official definition of the word “marketing.” It reads: “Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” Meanwhile, Entrepreneur.com (website for Entrepreneur Magazine) defines customer service as “the degree .”

At first blush, it looks like there should not be an overlap between these two areas. Marketing sets the table, sales brings people to the table, and customer service makes sure everyone’s plate stays filled. However, this delineation of departments and responsibilities has been impacted significantly by social media marketing. Indeed, ever since the social media “revolution” started, the business world has been rife with questions about who really owns a company’s online presence. PR, Marketing, Sales, Customer Service, and the C-Suite have all laid claim to this new means of communication at one time or another. A side effect has been similar battles over who owns the brand, the message, or the customers.

Is this what CMOs should be worrying about?

The survey results to us are a little disconcerting. We would rather have seen CMOs focusing on ROI, for example. A blog post Rob Petersen (President of Barn Raisers, a marketing solutions company) wrote in January 2013 offers 21 statistics showing that CMOS “leap before they look at ROI.”  We expected that perhaps CMOs would be concerned with balancing “traditional” marketing tactics with digital tactics. Perhaps their concern would be how to help move their company into a social business status. Indeed, there is no shortage of concerns relating specifically to marketing itself.  Do CMOS need to “claim” customer service as well?

It’s all about an integrated approach

As we have so often written of here, our belief is that an integrated approach is integral in today’s business world. Sales and customer service need to be aware of what the marketing department is up to. The marketing team needs to be on board with what sales and customer service representatives are telling customers. The management arm of the company should facilitate effective communication and collaboration between all of these departments. The concept of “ownership” is no longer truly sustainable.

What are your thoughts about the results of this survey? We’d love to hear from you.

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mayu/3506049918/ via Creative Commons


2 comments on “Marketing and Customer Service: Enemies or Allies?

  1. So this is a really interesting question. “Do CMOS need to “claim” customer service as well?” Many Chief Customer Officers have to learn what’s ok NOT to claim. The bleeding edge of many previously well-defined responsibilities is a reflection of the way silos are being slayed by more transparency for the customers. Interesting dilemma on both sides of the coin.

  2. It makes perfect sense it’s a collaboration effort from every angle of the organization.

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