Are you still trying to integrate your marketing channels, working on that huge “Integrated Marketing” deck? It’s hard to keep up, new marketing channels are opening up each day and your deck gets bigger and bigger.

Here’s a little piece of advice: Stop what you’re doing. You sound like a dinosaur when you talk about integrated marketing, discussing things that should have been completed years ago. Integrating marketing channels will remain an important task for decades to come but it can’t be your corporate/divisional goal.

You have more important things to do.

When was the last time you talked to your Customer Service department, spend a few hours listening to people solving problems for customers? I bet, it’s been too long. (Actually, I bet you never did it.)

Fact is: Customer Service and marketing need each other to succeed. On a corporate level, marketing must be integrated with customer service. The one can help to enhance the other one, and if not planned carefully, one can easily distract from each other. All your marketing dollars can go down the drain with one bad tweet, one bad phone call, one bad customer experience.

Where to start

These are just initial ideas how to develop more synergies between both departments:

  • Testimonials: No, not the fake ones from people that never used your product. There are people out there that love your product or the service you provide. They might have left a message, wrote an email or even a letter. Give these singers of your company’s praises a megaphone. Marketing is good at handing out megaphones. (Sometimes too good, but that’s a different story.)
  • Customer Service as the marketing campaign: Your customer service reps are the best in the world, they are solving problems and helping people? Why are you hiding them in the basement? Put them on a stage and make them your stars. They deserve it. And your customers deserve to hear about it.
  • Market turnaround-stories: I’ve had many experiences where I picked up the phone full of anger and ended the conversation with a customer service agent 5 minutes later with a smile on my face. It happens a lot. The bad dinner that turned into a second, brilliant visit. The cancelled flight that changed into a first-class seat. People share these stories with others. Why don’t you share them, too. Nobody is perfect, only your resolution process needs to be perfect.
  • Listen to your loyal customers: You drive a car for many years and there are always things that annoy you. The navigation screen, the placement of cup-holders, the rear window visibility. Stop sending out these faceless surveys or interrupt my day with a call how satisfied I am with my car. Ask me real questions, give me time and space to explain my concerns. Once you see a pattern: fix it. And then market it: We listen and learned. We changed because of you. A powerful tactic.
  • Combine marketing and customer service: Why keep both departments apart? Merge them, since both of the departments are marketing to people. Integrate marketing into your resolution processes. (No, not THAT marketing: “While I put this information into the system, let me tell you about offer A.” THAT marketing: “You’re an important customer to us and we would like to understand you better. Can we discuss with you how to make our company even better and serve your needs?” or “Would you mind sharing your experience with your friends?”

It’s a mystery to me why marketing departments deploy expensive focus groups, research and other studies to understand their customers better while the department next door gets real insights about the needs and desires of people one call/email/tweet at a time.

Integrate marketing into your overall customer experience path. Suddenly, marketing works.