Marketing is Marketing. Customer Service is Customer Service.

Before you go calling for me to turn in my social customer service clubhouse key (not that mine has ever worked since I found it on the bus), this isn’t my conclusion.  I looked it up; “customer service is the new marketing” that is. 

I asked Santa for it.  but, like I came to learn when I was a kid, you don’t always get everything on your list.  Apparently there was a run on this request at the North Pole.  And, since I didn’t see any after-Christmas sales on it in last Sunday’s paper, I went looking for it myself.

To find this elusive beast, naturally, I headed straight for Wikipedia.  And, hey, if it isn’t in Wikipedia, it doesn’t exist, right? (apparently unicorns do exist. They’re in there.)  I typed in “customer service marketing” and, among others, here’s what I found:

But no definition of “customer service is the new marketing”.  So, is it real? Does something need a definition to be real?  Love is real.  I can feel it.  But I’m not so sure I could define it.  And, even if I could, my definition is probably different than yours.

So, what do we make of this statement: “customer service is the new marketing”?  It’s a great tag line, for sure.  And its a noble goal to envision the breakdown of functional silos between marketing, sales and service – all focusing on the common objective of a superior customer experience.  Marketing and sales for sure need to think more like customer service; shut up and listen.  Got that.  So, conceptually, I get where folks are coming from when they say it. 

As I interpret it, organizations have an opportunity to create a competitive advantage by becoming more customer-centric; focusing on understanding customers better and using that knowledge to co-create an experience that truly delivers measurable value for the customer.  So, with all that, yes, we could all learn a thing or two from customer service in terms of how to engage with our customers.

But, at the end of the day.  Marketing has a job to do, regardless of the revolution in its methods.  Customer service has a job to do, regardless of what new social channel emerges next.

Remember when we thought customer service was the new sales? Cross selling?  Up selling? Service to sales call flows?  And, then hit the backlash from the front lines.  “We’re not sales people”.  “I don’t like sales”.  And, there was the backlash from customers.  We see how well that worked out.

So, how about this instead?  Rather than “customer service is the new marketing”.  Maybe we ought to think in terms of “Customer Service is the New Business of Business”.

Comments

  1. I appreciate your perspective. The "marketing is the new customer service" or for that matter "sales is the new customer service" or "customer service is the new customer service" point to the impact of social media on traditional roles and responsibilities. Old distinctions are collapsing even as organizations cling to existing organizational models. The simple fact is that customers see companies as a whole, and sales, marketing and customer service need to work more interdependently to excel in today's media environment.

  2. Well, maybe it depends on the nature of the service. It's possible that the customer service representative is advertising something, or (just as it has always been) helping you out. In a call center, there's an inbound call team, and an outbound call team. The outbound can either advertise, or update your previous queries from the inbound team.

    I like your view, by the way. Customer service is the new business of business has a nice ring to it!

  3. I thought it was the new black?! Or is that social customer care?

    It's an interesting one and for me there's two parts to it.

    Firstly, let's keep the soundbites away, and perhaps this is where the problem lies.

    Secondly, perhaps it reflects the fact that the traditional organisational structure as we know it is gradually being broken down and departments are working more collaboratively across the organisation.

    I'm all for marketing and customer service talking to each other, because together they provide a more unified offering to the customer. But let's leave the cliches, soundbites and empty rhetoric behind.

  4. Customer service isn't about being perfect. Customer service is about making things right, not just the immediate problem, but the root cause. And it is totally about listening to the customer.

    -fern-

  5. Barry,

    This is an excellent post. I think a lot of people are trying to convince themselves that there is some sort of new secret marketing recipe. The fact of the matter is that if you hire great people, have great service, and provide great service, it makes the marketers job easier… it doesn't, however, do it for them.

  6. In my opinion, Good customer service is necessary. I believe that treating the customer so politely makes them so comfortable and satisfied with your services.
    Customer service Survey

  7. I agree with you madhu, a company that give their 100% quality customer service will earn the trust and the satisfaction of the customers.

    Danielle

    Order taking service

  8. thank you all for your insightful comments. And I think we're all on the same page here. Agree, madhu. Good customer service is still the requirement. Of course, the traditional function is being transformed and the strategic value, not just as a post sale support system but as value creator across the customer life cycle, is being recognized. And some are actually way ahead of that curve.

    @guy1067 Yup! customer service and marketing collaborating more. Absolutely. One "becoming the other", in translation, one or the other extinguishes from the corporate landscape? Hardly think so.

    Nate – thats the winner. I agree. There is no secret sauce. I'll stick my neck out here and argue that what we have here is somewhat of a self promotional vehicle for those looking to create work. And hey I'm all for creating opportunity for your consulting business. But, its the job of any good consultant to identify the client's problem and then offer the solution to that problem. I sometimes wonder if we're creating a problem where there is none.

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