Aligning Sales, Marketing & Customer Service: What Not to Do



According to a recent Gallup report, only 29% of B2B customers are engaged or feel a strong connection with the companies they buy from. Often a lack of engagement is caused by poor customer service or difficulty doing business with the company. This situation represents a significant loss of growth opportunities for B2Bs.

Our recent customer service nightmare: It’s a Thursday morning, and there’s unrest in the Launch office. Sounds of disbelief. One of our clients is having issues with their website, and our team is on the phone with the hosting company. After having ignored a series of emails, the customer service rep tells us that the tech “doesn’t take phone calls” and then hangs up on us.

While this blatant example of poor service might be one of the most extreme we’ve encountered, we often witness customer service failings in our visits to technology and advanced manufacturing companies. Things like:

  • Phone directories that are difficult to navigate
  • Employees discussing confidential information or disparaging customers in the lobby
  • Customer service reps who are not trained in how to direct sales inquiries

Marketing and sales alignment is a common challenge, but marketing and sales strategy has real yet often overlooked implications for customer service. Inbound marketing, for example, doesn’t just generate web leads—it makes the phone ring. Trickle-down effects include:

  • Quote speed: 50% of sales go to the first salesperson to respond.
  • Changes to sales territories, as companies move from a geographic territory to industry focus
  • Changes to sales process, as qualifying leads becomes more important
  • Post-sale follow-up: Product development cycles are long, and a volume opportunity may come 6 or more months after initial order.

From our marketing assessment to day-to-day outsourced marketing execution, we’ve worked a few steps into our process to identify and address these gaps:

  • Mystery shopping at trade shows or online to assess customer service effectiveness
  • Customer interviews to hear firsthand accounts of customer experience at every touchpoint
  • Asking qualifying questions about timeframe, volume and industry
  • Test orders with every product launch to check everything from functionality of the website to packaging of the product
  • Email and phone number check: From design of new collateral to a simple business card reprint, we call the phone number to ensure accuracy and test the customer experience.
  • Involving customer service in company positioning, as well as sales and marketing strategy development, to ensure consistency across all brand touchpoints
  • Regular meetings with sales and customer service to ensure that the leads we’re generating are closing at expected rates, and to learn what customers are asking

These tips may help you identify and address gaps in sales, marketing and customer service alignment. For more insight on building customer relationships and brand loyalty, download our 10 Tips for Connecting with Customers.

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