This article is part of a series entitled Digital Marketer+. The series is aimed at marketers already working in the digital marketplace, but also to others looking for new ways to promote or build their business online.
The intention of the series is to take a second look at what you’re currently doing and approach it from a different perspective. It will include tips, best practice, case studies and a fair amount of opinion. Not just my own, I’d love your input too. If you have any great ideas or experience, please do share it, as I’m keen to become a better digital marketer too.
The customer service department is unlikely to be the first port of call for a marketer looking to improve their performance. However, if you want to make a significant difference to your website’s performance, its worth walking over and saying hello.
Whilst your outbound marketing – TV, display advertising, video, etc. – might be more exciting at first glance, it’s the information collected by Customer Services that is arguably more valuable to your business.
Customer Service is the coal face of your business – the closest your online business comes to your paying customer. Any questions, enquiries, returns or complaints go through these guys. It’s not the easiest job, or the most glamorous and the pay rarely reflects the hassle that comes with it. It’s often neglected or ignored by other parts of the company.
So why should you be interested?
Because there’s gold in there, that’s why. Every record from contact with a customer holds information to make your product better. It’s not always obvious; sometimes you have to look beyond the words the customer uses to identify the real problem. Reviewing the contact records will reveal technical problems with your site (broken pages / processes), inaccurate / outdated information (i.e. pricing), poor site copy / instructions, clumsy user interfaces and new product ideas.
Still wondering what this has got to do with you?
Even if you work in any organisation in which the Marketing department is only responsible for promotional activity, you have to make this your business or at the very least bring it to the attention of someone that can do something about it.
If you want to become a more complete marketer you need to think about the whole business; how you can make it better and how you can improve the brand experience of your customers. That makes customer service your business, even if it doesn’t state it on your job description.
8 Steps to fix it
- Speak to your Customer Service reps. What are the common problems / complaints they face? What would they change about the website? (why don’t they get asked this question more often when they face the problems every day??)
- Review the customer records yourself. Get a feel for what is wrong and what could be improved. Remember to read between the lines
- Draw up a list of all the issues you uncover and identify their potential solutions
- Establish the frequency of common complaints / issues. This will aid you in determining priorities later. Add this info to the list
- Flag each item as either ‘Technical’ or ‘Non-technical’. Technical items will need IT development work. Non-technical issues could include things like re-writing the on-page instructions, changing button labels, writing help guides or re-examining the positioning and promises in your advertising.
- If your list is long you’ll need to prioritise all the items to determine which need to be addressed first. It’s important to be realistic when you request these changes. A very long list may be delayed until sufficient resources are available. Breaking it into smaller chunks will improve the chances of the important things getting done.
- If you have a very busy IT department you’ll need to make a case for your changes to be made. The best way – and hardest to argue against – is to put financial figures against them. What are you losing each month due to these problems? What is the revenue opportunity by fixing them? Consider the best metric to use. Do you know the actual financial loss? Or could you use an average basket value? Or lifetime value?
- For the non-technical changes, the responsibility probably lies with you / the Marketing department. Think about the best way to fix the issue – will a screencast help? A FAQ? Or do you need to feed the info into the discussions about your next advertising creative?
Whatever solutions you implement make sure you continue to work with the Customer Service department and monitor the impact. Have your changes improved the situation? If not, continue to press on – what else can you do?
Things are rarely perfect in life, so never assume your work is done. Keep monitoring, keeping testing, keep improving.
One benefit you’ll find from fixing some or all of the problems will be the new found friends you’ll make in the Customer Service department. They’ll appreciate you making their life a little easier, which may well come in handy a littler later.
So what’s the outcome of this endeavour? Are you a better marketer?
Without a doubt. You’ve just hit on all Big Three Goals of business. In fixing the problems you increased your customer satisfaction. This lead to an increase in revenue from your happy customers (not forgetting the friends they recommended you to). You also lowered your costs – you now convert and retain more of your visitors, so there is less wastage on your advertising and fewer hours are needed in supporting your product (or at the very least you can put it to better use).
Well done. Not bad work from going to say hello.
Other posts in this series:
Over the course of this series, we’ll be looking at a wide range of things for you to try in your marketing, including behavioural re-targeting, smarter customer service, social media monitoring, conversion rate optimisation, mobile marketing, and creating linkbait to boost search performance. Please feel free to add your comments and join the conversation.
Or if you’d like to contribute to the series by writing a guest blog post, please get in touch to share your idea for consideration.