Since the advent of digital advertising, popular belief has been that marketing and customer service were headed in opposite directions in terms of digital transformation.
On one hand, marketing quickly grew an entire ecosystem of platforms and tools, automating essential functions such as audience targeting and campaign spend. Meanwhile, customer service was slower out of the gate, and has only recently begun migrating to the cloud and adopting artificial intelligence (AI).
One reason for the hesitance to adopt digital channels is the notion that the best way to reach consumers is strictly through human interaction. Additionally, a failure to see the direct connection between excellent service and revenue has lent credence to the idea that contact centres and customer experience (CX) investments as sunk costs.
However, the rules of the game have now completely changed. With pressure to differentiate and increase time to market in CX initiatives reaching new levels, Asia-Pacific’s businesses know they must begin to intertwine their marketing and customer service operations. While bridging the marketing-customer service divide securely is now steadily becoming a priority for business leaders across the region, maximising resources at their disposal will provide impetus for brands to evolve and succeed.
The changing customer service landscape
It was only fairly recently that customer service offerings began to reflect consumer behaviour and expectations. Brands can no longer rely solely on contact centres operating during traditional business hours to provide customer service support.
Now that brands have rolled out multiple digital communications channels, whether that’s outbound SMSes or more sophisticated AI-powered chatbots, customers are beginning to learn that they have their favourite brands at their fingertips, on-demand.
As a result, a common customer service interaction today often starts with a failed attempt at resolving the issue via the self-service channel and ends with a direct message from a contact centre agent.
The availability of data on these touchpoints is critical not only for customer service indicators, but also for a more accurate mapping of the complete customer journey. With modern contact centre solutions, brands can now gain customer service insights and create a unified view of the customer that also benefits marketing.
Weaving marketing and customer service
Marketing was fundamentally changed by the emergence of real-time audience analytics. Brands could finally deliver personalised ads at scale. Likewise, the integration of AI, machine learning, and natural language processing tools into the contact centre has helped customer service interactions become more personal. All of this is to say that intelligent technologies offer a lot of promise for contact centres because they unlock advanced capabilities, such as behavioural routing. However, their value to customer service does not stop there.
Modern contact centres offer unmatched levels of agility, allowing businesses to utilise customer histories to predict and pre-empt any service-related issues that are forecast to rise over time. In addition, these predictive capabilities can drive upselling and cross-selling recommendations and raise revenue.
In essence, the line where marketing ends and customer service starts is effectively obliterated. Businesses should revel in this instead of being wary of it. For instance, a proactive alert from customer service about a new product that complements a previous purchase can look an awful lot like marketing activity. On the other hand, it will be easier to recognise what companies typically consider to be the biggest contributors from customer service interactions to the wider business. This will then facilitate the future sales, and drive business growth.
A new era of CX
For contact centre agents, the thought relying solely on a customer’s account of events when an issue arises could not be more frightening. Thankfully, that blind spot can be overcome by building data infrastructures which collect and harmonise customer service and marketing data. Whether a customer just received an email offer and wants to understand more, or can’t add an item to the cart because it’s not in stock, data-driven brands empower customer service agents with the information to respond accordingly.
A circular CX model unifies marketing and customer service to enhance their respective functions and roles. Through this approach, businesses value both service operations and align themselves to better satisfy customers, as they gain an accurate picture of today’s customer journey.
For businesses in economically vibrant regions like the Asia-Pacific, agility is key to taking full advantage of this new era of CX. The fact is, the distinction between marketing and customer service is a false dichotomy and businesses need to act to integrate the two.