Customer Support and Marketing: A Match Made in Heaven…or at Least Online

support-and-marketing_1-01_large2After years of polite distance, marketing and customer support are seeing each other in a whole new light – and making a powerful, exciting connection. Those not-to-be-crossed lines between the parts of a business that generate revenue, like marketing, and the parts that cost money, like customer support, are falling by the wayside, blurred by online customer interaction. And the implications for both sides are huge, as they develop a new relationship in a world much different than the one they may have been accustomed to living in before.

More and more businesses today are finding customer support communication is a resource for winning brand-new customers, not just retaining existing ones. Viewed through that lens, customer support isn’t simply an expense; to the contrary, it’s a potential source of new customer revenue and a very valuable marketing channel. That’s a shift that’s putting the customer support team in a position to boost top-line revenue and influence the overall business as never before, and creating a much closer relationship between these two departments.

Let’s take a look at this relationship, what’s changed and why – and what leaders from each side can do to seize opportunity in this new environment, to benefit both teams and the business as a whole.

Influencing customers with customer support content

Technology is enabling customer support teams to create and share content online, and both customers and potential customers are demanding this content. For example, when a visitor goes to a company’s website or Facebook page to post a question about how a product works, customer support teams are proving to be the most effective resource to provide the answer – and leave a positive impression not just with the person who asked, but with everyone who reads it.

Suddenly, it’s not just marketing teams that are influencing how customers perceive the company – it’s also customer support teams. They’re no longer only resolving customer issues; they’re actively making customers and prospective customers happy in the process. That can result in getting more business from existing customers, converting prospects into new customers and turning happy customers into zealous advocates for companies (as Zappo’s CEO advocates). It’s all about being a part of the way people perceive brands and positively influencing those perceptions. This is a powerful shift that forces companies to think differently about the customer support department, and it has sparked a very rewarding connection between these groups. Let’s explore the chemistry, shall we?

Bringing customer support expertise to content marketing

Developing and encouraging a closer relationship between marketing and customer support is becoming one of the most powerful steps a company can take to increase the impact of content on customers and potential customers. As digital marketing strategist Greg Shuey once noted, “even content creators who have years of experience can struggle to come up with great content ideas.” That’s where customer support and marketing intersect, and it’s making a huge difference.

After all, customer support teams hear from customers every day – and that puts them in a unique position to know what’s important to customers, what their pain points are, which topics will resonate with them and much more. Customer support teams now use technology to track customer questions and other communications, and through analytics they gain a deep understanding of what customers care about. In this way, customer support becomes a valuable source of information to guide marketing in developing content strategy and in creating content based on that strategy. This gives marketing departments proven content they know will get the best results.

Understanding that any good relationship is a two-way street

It’s not just that customer support content can help marketing; it works the other way, too. Content marketing benefits customer service, as a Salesforce blog post has pointed out. The content marketing team is constantly developing brand and product content that customer support can use to educate and empower the customers with whom they engage.

One key to building and maintaining a strong relationship between marketing and customer service is having the right technology to make it easy to track customer interests and pain points, pull reports and effectively communicate the information between departments. When done right, both teams will be able to draw on that information to help ensure they’re always providing the most effective, satisfying responses – whether from the marketing or support side of the aisle. This optimizes the conversion of new business while also increasing retention of existing customers, with both teams working together to achieve company goals more effectively than either could alone.

As the relationship between business and customer becomes increasingly content-driven, marketing and customer support become increasingly entwined. For some companies, this collaboration is a brand-new marriage that will naturally require a bit of adjustment. But as the relationship continues to blossom and the two learn to engage and play off each other’s strengths, they’ll learn that together they can do more than ever to help win the hearts of customers (and the revenue that comes with them).