As one of the key customer facing members of the organization, Marketing is responsible for creating value and driving growth by helping your organization acquire and retain customers, and grow share of wallet. For most organizations, customer service and support is an integral part of delivering and communicating the complete solution. They are essential to building a long-term relationship with your customers and enabling customer success. 


Service, Support and Marketing Need to Join Forces

In addition, your service and support can be a source of competitive differentiation and advantage.  These capabilities are also integral to increasing customer satisfaction rates and loyalty. When an organization does not service/support (hereafter referred to as customer service) customers effectively, the customers you have worked so hard to acquire may defect. Even worse they may share their bad experience with their extensive networks (including via social media), making it more difficult to acquire new customers. Therefore, Marketing and the functions responsible for service and support must all work together.

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Create a Plan to Link Service and Marketing, with Operational Strategies

Research has shown that product and service quality are commonly noted as a critical prerequisite for satisfying and retaining valued customersEvaluating the quality of your services and what attributes are most important to customers is important to satisfying and retaining your customers.  In their  book, Marketing Services: Competing Through Quality, Berry and Parasuraman identified five determinants of service quality and the importance customers attribute to each of them:

  1. Reliability – the ability to perform the promised service dependably and accurately. This is the most important attribute. Out of 100% points, customers generally attribute 32 points to this attribute.
  2. Responsiveness – the next important attribute, which generally receives 22 points. Responsiveness is the willingness of employees to help customers and the company’s ability to deliver the service promptly.
  3. Assurance – the knowledge of the service deliverer and their ability to convey trust and confidence. Assurance is third in importance with 19 points.
  4. Empathy – the ability to provide caring, individualistic attention for 16 points.
  5. Tangibles – this is the appearance of personnel, the physical facilities of the company, the communication tools, etc., and accounts for 11 points or 10%.

As you can see many of these encompass human interaction. While you may be focusing on more digital interactions, as long as your customers are human you will need to find a way to balance digital solutions with human beings. Because humans are emotional beings, empathy affects the perception of your customer’s experience. Machines do not have empathy. To be of value empathy must be authentic. That means hire people who have empathy – in every customer facing part of your organization, including Marketing. How you manage Moments of Truth directly impacts both a specific interaction and the long-term relationship.

As a member of the leadership team, you have a large stake in ensuring that the organization’s customer service functions positively impact customer satisfaction and loyalty. You can evaluate your company’s capabilities against each of these attributes and then determine which areas need improvement. In general, if you achieve these numbers your customers are satisfied, if you come in below these numbers, your customers are dissatisfied, and if you exceed these numbers, you customers are delighted. 

You need a plan if you want to use customer service and support as a way to improve experience and loyalty.  This plan need to  create a link between the Customer Service, Marketing, and Operational strategies.  The purpose of the plan is to make sure you understand customer expectations and are addressing those that matter most. A key part of developing the plan is establishing success factors and key metrics. This is our domain of expertise and why our customers depend on us.


Customer Service Metrics

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Link Service with Marketing to Improve Loyalty

What are the appropriate metrics for customer service and how can Marketing leverage these for tactical and strategic decisions?

A study conducted by Service Excellence Research Group in cooperation with identified some of the most common metrics being used to measure service, loyalty and support:

  1. Service transaction volume. High volume support organizations often enjoy significant economies of scale from improvements in efficiency and effectiveness. It’s not uncommon for companies to manage 1,000 to 7,500 live support cases per month with nearly an equal number of transactions handled each month through self-services. Common metrics around support transaction volume include service level performance, the volume of support requests handled and the use of self-services. Each case is typically assigned a code indicating the type of issue. Reviewing the results may lead you to solution or packaging changes.
  1. Service delivery channel. For many organizations, the phone is still among the primary support delivery medium for all live support requests followed by online support requests. Therefore, the hold times, abandon rates, and time to resolution should continue to be among your key metrics. 
  1. Delivery costs. Another important metric for service and support is cost. Even though many companies have established fees for service and support, phone support costs can become a big expense for businesses. This cost is dependent on the size of your company and the volume of calls you receive. Rather than thinking of phone support as a cost, explore how phone support provides your organization with another way to invest in creating a positive customer experience. For example, every month you could ask the service group to communicate a new marketing message, e.g. promoting your user conference, or ask a question, e.g. would a customer loyalty program mean anything to you?
  1. Self-service. Research has found that two out of three customers prefer using self-service before requesting assistance. Measuring the effectiveness of self-service is therefore essential in determining success of the self-service strategy. Self-service typically happens on your website. High abandonment rates here may signal the need to simplify the service request form.
  1. Customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction is consistently one of the most important key indicators for a service/support organization. There are some researchers that believe customer satisfaction is an important indicator of your organization’s economic health.  Tracking your customer satisfaction may be a way to monitor your company’s financial well-being.A highly satisfied customer is extremely valuable because of the greater likelihood of future product purchases, the willingness to be a reference account and the likelihood of renewing maintenance and support contracts.

Almost every company uses some form of customer assessment, either formal or informal. Satisfaction surveys vary widely in both breadth and depth, but they narrow down to two types:

  • Transactional Satisfaction. This survey measures customer satisfaction across all types of interaction with your company – whether it’s a sales call, a support call or email, opening your invoice or using your product.
  • Image-Based Satisfaction. This survey measures the image your customers have about you, the likelihood of purchasing again and whether or not they would recommend your product/service to friends.

Not sure what to topics to include in your customer satisfaction surveys? These are the top five topic categories: overall experience, speed and completeness of resolution, and knowledge and professionalism of the representative.  To benchmark your customer satisfaction, check out the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ASCI) developed by the National Quality Research Center at the University of Michigan.  It tracks customer perceptions for all major economic centers. Another possible source for customer satisfaction benchmarks are the J.D. Power studies. 


Customer Service and Marketing are Partners in Improving Experience

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Customer Service Impacts Satisfaction and Loyalty

Customer service functions can provide Marketing with invaluable qualitative information about customers. Customer service interactions can provide valuable insights into:

  • topics for content creation based on the most common issues or the way customers actually use or don’t use the solution
  • insight for persona development or revision if your market is changing with the adoption cycle or some new trend, solution description changes related to common misunderstandings, and new related solutions
  • customers who are willing to participate in case study related activities, such as conference presentations
  • which customers would be ideal candidates for focus groups and which customers are not happy and may be ready to defect

By partnering with the customer service group and understanding their metrics, Marketing can gain tremendous insight into how to build a stronger relationship with customers. Learn how our customers succeed with this initiative.


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