What to Do When Marketing and Customer Service Don’t Align

Is your marketing promising something your company can’t deliver? Here’s how to find deeper alignment.

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Pardon the cliché, but is your marketing department writing checks that your customer service team can’t cash? How aligned are your marketing and customer delivery teams? A software organization I work with recently discovered such a problem: Though its marketing materials did a great job hyping up its offerings’ capabilities, the technology fell far short, and as a result, customers were disappointed, and the company’s reputation was hurt. Here’s a closer look at some strategies we used to create better alignment between marketing and other parts of the organization.

Have a team of stakeholders review messaging: Product marketers demonstrate why marketing departments need different perspectives when crafting messaging, as these individuals understand the product, audience, and road map, as well as have a marketing background. But if you don’t have this role at your organization, a group of stakeholders can also help you achieve alignment.

Start with product fact sheets: One of the first pieces of collateral that should be developed is a product fact sheet, which is based on what a product can do and deliver without taking features and turning them into benefits. It can serve as a “source of truth” when trying to determine whether messaging aligns with actual functionality.

Identify sources of frustration: When marketing materials over-promise, it’s usually unintentional, and a single turn of phrase or the way one feature is described may be the culprit. For example, one area we identified in the case study above was that the issue was less with the marketing materials and more with the way they were presented in a sales-enablement context. So, assess your existing materials, look at customer complaints, and talk to decision-makers (if feasible) to explore where breakdowns may be occurring. By closely aligning your sales scripts and marketing materials, you can deliver a consistent experience that meets expectations.

Have a process for updates: Products evolve over time, and accurately capturing new features, what they can do, and the timelines associated with them is key. For example, another issue we identified in the case study above was that certain features that were rolled out for enterprise clients had been discussed with SMB buyers, but those features were only available to customers who paid thousands of dollars per year. A stronger process to manage communications around further product development was created, and these types of issues have since been avoided.

When you’re receiving customer complaints, it’s important to look at whether your marketing aligns with your organization, and if there are disconnects with products, sales, or customer service, use these steps to create a well-rounded understanding of what you’re offering to speak to the market in a compelling but consistent way.