March 21, 2012

Customer service is the new marketing


Image by tmcnem on BigStockPhoto

Christopher RollysonIn most brand organizations, marketing investments rest on 20th century marketing principles whose results are diminishing every year. At the same time, an increasing portion of products and services are commoditizing, which puts more pressure on marketing to “create” differentiation and value. In many cases, there is no escape — except by changing the rules.

Here I’ll show how marketing can reinvent itself by using social business to tap a hidden gold mine. Here are the ways that CMOs can leverage digital world of mouth:

The threat: Dire straits in marketing

Marketing’s credibility will never recover because customers now have a more trusted alternative: other customers

Marketing as a profession emerged in leading economies during the mid-20th century, when manufactured products were novelties in many categories. Marketers came to assume that they could “create an image” or “brand” using the mass communications to which few had access. Individual customers had no leverage because word of mouth was analog. Word of mouth has always been the most trusted source of product or service information, but it had no leverage until social peer-to-peer technologies emerged. Marketing’s credibility will never recover because customers now have a more trusted alternative: other customers. You can make this work for you.

The opportunity: Customer service as marketing

For customers, the most compelling information about companies, products or services is often conversations about how products or services can be used in specific situations. They have high credibility because they are initiated by customers and show what happens when exceptions arise. Simplistically speaking, marketing’s job is to increase demand for the company’s products and services. Customer service conversations will be more compelling than marketing messages in many situations, but they have to be treated completely differently. Continue reading