When marketing, sales and service are in harmony the customer wins

03 November 2021 Consultancy.com.au 5 min. read
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For brands to be able to deliver the optimal customer experience, they should seamlessly blend their marketing, sales and service capabilities, writes Jason du Preez, Senior Vice President Asia Pacific at SugarCRM. 

You’d be hard pressed to find a more commonly used piece of jargon than customer experience (CX). To paraphrase a line from a famous song “CX is all around me”. Yet, when we think about three of the key pillars of CX – marketing, sales and service – we discover that rather than working together like a well tuned trio each is often playing their own song, often without listening to the other players around them. 

For over three decades marketing, sales, and service have worked in silos and failed to share customer data and insights with each other, ultimately failing the customer themselves and compromising on profitability.  

Jason du Preez, Senior Vice President Asia Pacific, SugarCRM

SugarCRM’s recent research backed this up. Half of Australian sales leaders admit that they cannot access customer data across marketing, sales, and service systems. This means customer-facing team members don’t have a clear picture of their customers. As a result, 50% sales reps are frustrated by the administrative burden they bear with a massive knock-on effect on customer churn.

Over half of the businesses SugarCRM spoke to said customer churn increased over the last year and almost half the sales leaders didn’t know why customers were leaving with their existing CRM being described as not fit for purpose, not well supported by the vendor and that it costs them revenue. 

These findings are a wake-up call for companies relying on the market-leading incumbents in CRM with software that is tuned to steady-state and known customer behaviours. These high-maintenance platforms constantly require manual feeding, which is only adding to the problem. Which explains why almost all organisations are using some AI now but expect the use of AI to expand over the next two years. 

Removing the barriers

Maybe the best way to encourage teams to fully utilise their CRM would be to ban spreadsheets. But rather than ban spreadsheets, the secret is to liberate data and make spreadsheets redundant. It’s time for customer data to come out of hiding so that it’s shared for the good of the customer and the organisation. 

Instead of being reactive and wondering why customers have churned, businesses can share the data they have and create a CX that anticipates and fulfills needs before customers realise they have them. Instead of worrying about churn, focus on proactive retention. We need to be more preventative and less reactive. 

But, how can your CRM systems possibly predict the future when it can’t tell you what your customer did last year, or even yesterday? AI can help but it’s not a miracle worker. AI depends on high quality, up-to-date information in order to make accurate predictions. AI is the ultimate garbage in-garbage out system. The best algorithms in the world will deliver poor outcomes if you feed them with low quality data. 

For sales, marketing and service teams, the magic happens when they bring together all their customer data, identify and fill any gaps and then pair it with the right technology. Then businesses can maximise the opportunity to improve retention, increase revenue, and gain more predictable business outcomes. 

Working in harmony

With 52% of Australian sales professionals believing their CRM systems are unfit for purpose, this is easier said than done. But it’s not impossible. There are three key elements to ensuring you have all three members of your CX band playing in harmony. 

1. No blind spots
Customers hate having to start over again each time they touch base with your organisation. Instead of being limited to piecemeal views of the customer, often siloed across the organisation, you need to be able to instantly see all the relevant information about the customer, including the past, present, and even future (with predictive insights), to create that long-term relationship. So many CRM systems are unable to look back on a customer’s history – it’s crazy.

It’s time to take a sledgehammer to the walls that divide and hold data back. Remove those blind spots. 

2. No busy work
You need to be able to automatically capture customer data and present it safely and securely in context to everyone who needs it. Sales, marketing and customer services staff don’t want to spend their time manually entering endless customer details, which takes them away from doing their jobs and adds the human error factor to your data. It’s time we let technology do the heavy lifting, not the other way round. 

3. No roadblocks
Each business is unique and so are your customer needs, so why let a generic solution get between them? Instead of settling for an ‘out-of-the-box’ solution with all the standard limitations of not knowing how an individual business or even industry works, you need to mould a solution around your needs and workflows. Once upon a time, this would have been prohibitively costly, but not any more. 

When you have the right technology in place, marketing, sales and service can cooperate and collaborate. The technology does the work rather than time-poor and frustrated staff so they can deliver the high definition experiences (HD-CX) customers are craving. The reward is great, and the risk of not doing so is even greater.

It’s time to bring your talented sales, marketing and service solo artists together and create a supergroup that plays all the customer experience hits you know they’re capable of to boost profitability and build loyalty.