Startups with killer customer service are creating a serious problem for big business

Are your sales and marketing divisions aligned? Photo: Shane Mahood/ USA Network via IMDb.

Uber, Xero, Netflix and Atlassian have all grown from startups to industry heavyweights because they share many attributes, including being major disruptors.

But most importantly they all nailed one very important detail: customer service.

In a business era where technology makes experiences fast, feedback immediate and reviews viral, failing to make your customer happy can have a serious consequence on a company’s success.

According to Matt Tindale, head of enterprise APAC for marketing solutions at LinkedIn, creating a killer customer service experience starts with the relationship between a company’s marketing and sales divisions.

“Gone are the days where you are just compared to your competitors,” he says.

“The Commonwealth Bank is not just competitors with NAB or Westpac, you are compared to every single experience.

“Experience now has almost become more important than the product. If you get that wrong there is just huge implications.”

He said the smaller but powerful disruptors in business “are putting user experience front and centre” and it’s that experience that big banks and tech companies are up against.

“That’s why getting sales and marketing together is so important,” he says.

“A couple of years ago it wasn’t that big of a deal, particularly in the B2B space… People were almost ‘spammy’ in the way they were trying to acquire customers.

“Automation came along and doing that experience at scale really annoyed a huge amount of people. But a lot of the time customers didn’t have something to compare it to and it was kind of shrugged off and accepted.”

It’s like that annoying follow-up call about life insurance from the company you called two weeks ago to ask about car insurance — and then the five other calls spruiking their other products after that.

If we were to experience that kind of marketing now, we would blacklist the number, complain about it on Twitter and never go back to the company again.

“Now in the whole internet age [customer experience] is so personalised. It’s all about the experience, and people expect this trust so you just have to do it right,” explains Tindale.

“This boils down to a few things, but this alignment between sales and marketing more often than not is the most important part.”

Get your sales and marketing teams on the same page

New research released by LinkedIn reveals that a significant majority (74%) of businesses believe that the relationship between its company’s sales team and its marketing department is collaborative, with 68% saying that it has improved over last year.

Driving this collaboration is the realisation that working together harmoniously leads to revenue growth.

Over half (58%) of businesses said that good collaboration is resulting in revenue growth, while 49% said it contributed to customer retention.

While on the contrary, the negative impact of poor collaboration is missed business opportunities (63%) and customer frustration (48%).

However, almost one in two businesses (42%) are failing to measure the impact of their collaboration, saying they do not know how to, and therefore can’t ascertain the business impact of working together.

“It’s clear from the research that a lack of understanding of the customer and channels of communication is where the divide between sales and marketing teams is most apparent,” said Tindale.

According to the research, areas to improve collaboration included sharing objectives and metrics, better customer insights and understanding, and clear accountability and workflow, as opposed to shared budgets or job swapping.

“Connect people [in sales and marketing divisions] is key to making sure this collaboration happens,” Tindale says, adding that getting it right comes from the alignment on audience and targeting, a shared understanding of the buyer, and coordinated engagement.

“These are the areas we talk to clients about, and more and more people are starting to realise how incredibly important it is for their business.”

*The research, commissioned by LinkedIn, examined 7140 sales and marketing professionals from September 26, 2016 to October 19, 2016 across five key markets including Australia, United States, United Kingdom, India and South-East Asia.

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