5 Ways Marketing Can Sabotage Your Customer Service


In a world filled with brand silos and departments working independently, communication can be difficult between brand departments only feet away from each other. The reality is that customer service and marketing are essential departments that can cause significant problems for each other. While marketing is forced to find compelling, unique ways to appeal to customers new and old, customer service is forced to combat weaknesses in brand messaging, as well as the expectations of customers new and old. With every brand looking to EXPAND, GROW, SYNERGIZE, WIN! through constant, broad marketing and PR, this can cause significant problems for your customer service team, as well as your brand.

Keeping your customer service department clean from marketing gaffes is no easy challenge and, as such, requires clear communication and processes. It also requires special sensitivity from leadership and brand champions to make customer service’s job only tied to products, services and quality and not problems created internally. Put simply, marketing must watch what it puts out there to avoid glares in the break room.

So how do you make that happen? Do I have all the answers? Absolutely not. However, having lived in both chairs and seen the mountains climbed every day, I’ve picked up on some top level items your company can avoid to ensure your business development arm doesn’t inhibit your business retention arm.

So, without further ado, here are five items your marketing team can do to, more or less, not piss off your customer service team and cause them extra work:

  1. Don’t be broad in your marketing pitch. While it may help sales to be vague in the full extent of your product or service’s potential, being unclear causes headaches for your customer service. The reason: consumers have expectations based upon what they hear. When that’s not met, your customer service team deals with it. A transparent pitch that details the extents of benefit, clearly documented, is a tremendous resource for customer service to point to while explaining your brand’s limits.
  2. Don’t let marketing’s volume drown out your customer service efforts. Companies that sell well must also have equally vocal customer service teams. A company marketing heavily on social media with posts every couple hours can’t force consumers to wait days for customer service replies. The perception, even if it doesn’t live in reality, is not worth the drama or problems. Scale as evenly as possible to ensure perception doesn’t hinder a disappointment your customer is already suffering.
  3. Adapt messaging based upon incoming customer service feedback. Customer feedback is ripe for adapting your marketing to conform to consumer expectations and real product/service limits. If your marketing team is able to absorb ways in which their message caused problems and adapt accordingly, this can mean less work for your customer service team. The best customer service is proactive, heading off issues before they develop.
  4. Avoid having marketing handle ‘simple’ customer service issues. While in the process of posting and communicating with prospects, your marketing team may try to handle what seem like simple customer service requests. Though this may seem like a way to lessen burdens or maximize resources, it creates problems for your brands. Customers will begin targeting inquiries to these reps and circumvent the process, creating additional layers of trouble internally and laying the framework for problems. Force the process for best results.
  5. Stay within the bounds so great customer service isn’t weakened by a poor marketing idea. No brand intentionally jumps into a pitch or concept knowing it’s weak. Yet, a poor or problematic marketing effort can damage all of the earnest work done by customer service. While this is correct in the reverse as well (customer service blunders DO impact the bottom line and public perception beyond one customer), it’s often ignored how a poor campaign can damage the ability for service reps to do their work effectively. Delta’s “Ghana” incident is a great example of how the company’s flawed marketing post on social media can weaken consumer trust in their customer service efforts; seeing poor marketing on Twitter likely lowers your trust in using the popular platform to resolve your problem.

While silos do have their value in performance and staffing arenas, there are still a multitude of ways that marketing can hurt customer service. Though these examples are just the tip of the iceberg, continue to look at your marketing efforts through the lens of how it could impact your brand beyond sales and into your brand voice and ability to fix problems easily. By being proactive in limiting bad marketing from creeping into your good customer service, departments will be able to provide a more unified voice and develop the bedrock of consistent quality messaging.

Photo Credit: Quinn Dombrowski


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