For decades, most chief marketing officers I know have been held responsible for one thing: getting new customers in the door. Once they’re in, supporting those customers has been another department’s issue. In consumer companies, it’s typically a call center; in firms that sell to other organizations, it’s sales, customer service and field service.
But hand-holding of customers – to help them understand how to use the product or service they purchased, to fix it when it doesn’t work, and so on – has not been the domain of marketing. The marketers are busy enough trying to drive awareness and fill the pipeline with new prospects.
If you take a look at a recent study that the TCS Business 4.0 Institute conducted in early 2019 with 516 CMOs and other marketing heads, you might think differently about this approach. The data from this report “Innovating the Brand Experience Through Digital Transformation” suggests that marketing should no longer be “missing-in-action” in helping customer support with customer communications.
Why? Because some of the most important moments that customers have with your brand are after they’ve purchased your offering and need help in using it. To strengthen the relationship, your customers need clear, consistent, and – increasingly – digitally personalized support advice. In our research, we refer to this as the customer support stage (Stage 3) of a four-stage brand experience. While most marketers are not involved in crafting communications for this stage, those that do have discovered just how important it is for retaining customers.
Of the 516 marketing chiefs surveyed, only about one in three (37% to be exact) said their function creates communications for post-sale customer support. Some of the more active industry sectors include:
60% of automakers
52% in insurance
51% in travel, transportation, and hospitality
That said, most marketers are MIA in Stage 3, and our study suggests it’s a big missed opportunity. The most effective marketers that we surveyed (a group we refer to as “marketing leaders” because they outperformed other respondents in their impact on revenue) were more likely to be involved in customer communications for Stage 3–about 44% of them are.
There’s much to be learned from these leading marketers. One of the most important lessons is discovering what kinds of information they use digital technology and digital customer data to personalize in support communications.
Two big takeaways:
The most frequently used type of information (by 88% of marketing leaders) is useful product/service information. (By this we mean relevant, personalized information that helps them use the product or figure how to operate it. The best marketers are less involved in trying to sell new things to customers.)
Leaders are also more likely to use social media (76%) in customer support.
Read the Customer Support report “Interacting Digitally to Become Invaluable Customer Advisers” to learn more about this topic, including how a global asset management firm’s marketing function gets involved in this stage.
I think you’ll see that the post-sale support phase offers opportunities for digital marketers everywhere to build strong relationships, lay the foundation for repeat business and create lifelong customers.
About the author(s)
Prabhakar Karamsetty is the Global Head, Quality Engineering & Transformation (QET) Unit at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). In this role, Prabhakar focuses on how to bring the highest Quality Engineering and Testing solutions for various TCS customers across multiple business verticals and geographies.
Prabhakar works closely with his team of engineering experts to offer customers a comprehensive portfolio of AI & machine learning powered services spanning the entire Quality Engineering value cycle - including consulting and advisory, testing services implementation, and managed services for test environment and test data management. He is also in charge of helping global clients address their business, quality and risk management challenges.
Prabhakar has over 22 years of experience at TCS, working in various international roles across engineering, program management, software development and assurance services. He has had an integral part in customer acquisition for TCS and has supported many large, strategic deals within the organization. Prior to his current role, Prabhakar has worked across other strategic portfolios within TCS including Head, Assurance Services (UK, Europe, India), Practice Manager, Assurance Services (UK, India), Program Manager (US) and more.
He currently resides in London with his wife and 2 daughters. Outside of work, Prabhakar has interest in travel exploring few new places every year.