Connect with us

MARKETING

What they are and why marketers should care

Published

on

Intercom introduces new customer service and insights products

Great customer service helps you retain customers, attract new business, and increase customer lifetime value. In other words, it’s essential to success. Customers who feel supported — and seen — are more likely to stick around. On the flip side, if your customers feel neglected or have a poor service experience, they’ll leave — and probably won’t come back. 

In B2B marketing, caring for customers is often referred to as “customer success.” We’ll look more closely at the terms “service,” “support” and “success” below.

In a 2021 Qualtrics/ServiceNow study, 43% of respondents said they’d likely switch brands after only one negative customer service experience. Another study by Statista revealed that between 2016 and 2020, 40% of U.S. customers said they stopped doing business with a company because of poor customer service.

Technology, as is often the case, is helping companies meet customer expectations around customer service and success, bridging communications across multiple channels and devices, and setting customers up for better buying experiences.  

Several important trends are driving the adoption and reinvention of the enterprise customer service stack.  They include the need to future-proof the customer service tech stack, a drive toward more asynchronous text-based communication, and a push toward unifying channels and communications to enhance customer experience.

It’s clear that customer service and success — and the tools that enable and facilitate them — are essential for any business, no matter the size or product. 

In this post we’ll cover:

What are customer service and success?

Customer service and success are two sides of the same customer experience coin, but there are slight differences. 

Customer service and support (CSS) is focused on handling customer inquiries and complaints in real time. It’s reactive, satisfying customer problems and addressing issues quickly in a way that benefits both the customer and the company. 

Customer success is about anticipating your customers’ needs and creating an ideal experience throughout the entire buying journey. Its proactive, employing tools and systems that help meet changing customer expectations (and behaviors) in an agile, scalable way. 

While customer service is important for all businesses, customer success has been traditionally associated with companies that rely on recurring revenue, such as subscription-based businesses and B2B organizations with long sales, onboarding, and implementation cycles. 

But these days, all companies — including B2C and retail businesses — need to prioritize customer success. It’s an essential marketing and future proofing strategy. 

Why marketers should care about customer service and support

Customer service can make a brand or it can break it. Companies that excel at it get customers for life, ones who become the kind of word-of-mouth brand ambassadors that marketers’ dreams are made of. 

Mess it up, though, and you can make brand-enemies for life. To really succeed, customer service has to be an enterprise-wide value and not just part of a business unit. 

Who uses or works with customer service and success tools?

Customer service and success teams keep customers happy which helps ensure continued business from existing and new customers. Both teams serve customers and help make their experience with the company a good one. To achieve this, they each have a slightly different focus.

The customer service representative (CSR) team is responsible for handling customer inquiries, complaints, and problems. They help resolve issues in real time. 

Some examples of CSR roles include:

  • Agent/representative:  A customer’s main point of contact with your company – fields customer inquiries, handles complaints, and resolves problems.
  • Supervisor: A management role that oversees support team operations, assigns tasks to agents, and makes sure goals are met.
  • Quality assurance (QA): QA monitors and evaluates CSR team activity (e.g., calls, emails, chats) and makes sure the CSR team provides high-quality customer service. 

The customer success management (CSM) team advocates for customers, prioritizing their needs and providing a big-picture overview of the customer experience for other teams (including marketing, sales, and CSR teams). 

CMS teams tend to have a longer view of customer success which includes identifying and addressing issues that might cause customer churn. Their primary goal is to help customers get the most from a product or service. 

Some examples of CSM roles include:

  • Customer success manager/advocate:  Another key point of contact between the customer and organization, the CSM addresses issues (e.g., long wait times, inconsistent communication) that might cause customer dissatisfaction and/or churn.
  • Implementation specialist: A specialized role focused on helping customers set up and use the company’s products or services.
  • Product specialist: An expert who provides detailed guidance and answers to product/service-specific questions. 
  • Tech support engineer: A technical expert who helps customers resolve more complex technical issues or problems.

The market for helping companies better serve their customers is vast. The U.S. contact center software market alone was valued at nearly $24 billion in 2021 and is projected to grow 23% by 2030. 

Several trends are fueling this growth, including the rapid adoption of cloud and virtual contact centers, chatbots, and prescriptive AI that automates previously manual tasks like case routing and problem resolution. There’s also a very real need to streamline customer interactions across multiple channels (otherwise known as customer experience).

Gartner identified four components needed for CSS tools. They are:

  • Call management – log and manage incoming calls and transactions.
  • eService suites – self-service tools that empower customers to communicate with an organization using email, chat, and social media.
  • Field service and dispatch (FS/D) – assign and track work orders for field service technicians.
  • Contact center – a centralized location where CSRs handle customer contact across all channels and communication types (voice, web, fax, mobile, etc.).

There are four main types of software associated with CSS including:

  1. Call center: enables CSRs to manage phone calls, track call activity, and measure performance. Examples include Five9, Ringover, and Twilio. Features typically include inbound call center capabilities like call automated call routing, call recording, and call queueing, interactive voice response (IVR), and call analytics.
  1. Live chat: Can be a standalone tool or integrated with all-in-one customer service platforms. Llive chat software helps customer service reps communicate with customers in real-time via chat. Examples include Tidio, Qualified, and MobileMonkey. Key features include AI-enabled and 24/7 chatbot availability, co-browsing, conversation archiving, and a shared team inbox.
  1. Help desk: provides a centralized place for customer support reps to track, manage, and resolve customer inquiries and issues. Examples include Zendesk Support Suite, Zoho Desk, and Intercom. Common features include tracking/ticketing systems, knowledge base management, and self-service portals.
  1. Knowledge management (KM): provides a central repository for storing and organizing customer service and support-related information (FAQs, training materials, product documentation, etc.) Examples include Guru, Notion, and Zendesk. Focus is on facilitating knowledge dissemination with features like versioning, history, collaboration/feedback, permissions, knowledge sharing, templates, etc.

Gartner defines customer success as an approach versus a category of software:

“Customer success is a method for ensuring customers reach their desired outcomes when using an organization’s product or service. A relationship-focused customer success strategy includes involvement in the purchase decision, implementation and use of products or services and customer support.”

Customer success teams get a slightly different flavor of software tools compared with their CSR counterparts. These include:

  1. Customer success platforms: These help CSM teams track customer health, advocate for the customer internally, and prevent churn. Examples include HubSpot Service Hub, ChurnZero, and Gainsight. Key features include customer health scoring (by analyzing historical customer behavior data), customer profile creation, journey mapping, and playbooks. These platforms focus on improving the lifetime value of a customer by identifying when and where support is needed the most.
  1. Customer relationship management (CRM) tools:  CRMs store customer profile information (contact information, interaction history, customer notes) and manage sales and marketing processes. CRM tools help build and support customer relationships, improving the entire process of customer data gathering and organizing. HubSpot and Salesforce are two of the most well-known CRMs, but there are many others including Zoho CRM, Pipedrive, and Monday.com. 
  1. Product analytics (PA): PA helps CSM teams see which features customers are using (or not using) and how they’re using them. PA tools get marketing and product teams on the same page, with data that informs customer health scoring and can be used to prevent churn. Pendo is one example of a product usage data tracking tool as is Amplitude Analytics (for digital products).
  1. Customer journey orchestration: This is used to visualize the customer’s journey across touchpoints and own the end-to-end customer experience. Mapping customer journeys can help teams identify gaps and optimize the experience. Examples of tools that facilitate this include Treasure Data, a customer data platform (CDP) and Qualtrics, a customer experience platform (CXP).

How prioritizing customer service and success helps marketers succeed

Getting customer service and success right translates to more sales, more customers, and a better bottom line. Good experience is often the biggest priority a customer has when doing business with a company—trumping price, product, and brand. 

Nearly 60% of 1000 consumers in a recent Forbes survey said they would pay more for good service. The same survey found that convenience is valued over price, with 70% of respondents saying they’d pay more for convenience.

A strong customer service and success strategy can be a powerful marketing tool by:

  • Providing valuable customer insights that inform marketing campaigns. 
  • Reducing customer churn.
  • Facilitating communication between customers and businesses.
  • Motivating positive customer reviews and testimonials.
  • Increasing customer loyalty and customer lifetime value.
  • Being more competitive. 

A study by Deloitte revealed that companies who prioritize customer experience (e.g., “customer-centric” companies) were 60% more profitable than those who don’t. These companies spend time getting to know their customers and focus on using tools and processes that solve customer problems and deliver better customer experiences.


Get the daily newsletter digital marketers rely on.


A strong (and deliberate) customer service and success process supports marketers by improving   customer experience. It creates happy customers which leads to more sales, improved customer lifetime value, and much more successful marketing campaigns. It’s also the best way to futureproof your organization by keeping up with changing trends in customer expectations and behaviors while staying one (or ten) steps ahead of the competition.

Read next: What is CRM and how does it support marketing?


About The Author

Jacqueline Dooley is a freelance B2B content writer and journalist covering martech industry news and trends. Since 2018, she’s worked with B2B-focused agencies, publications, and direct clients to create articles, blog posts, whitepapers, and eBooks. Prior to that, Dooley founded Twelve Thousand, LLC where she worked with clients to create, manage, and optimize paid search and social campaigns.

Source link

MARKETING

Skills to Look for in a Freelance Software Developer

Published

on

Skills to Look for in a Freelance Software Developer

According to Statista, the number of software developers around the globe is expected to increase to 28.7 million by 2024.

Freelance software developers benefit companies because of the ease and speed with which they can be onboarded and used as project-specific resources. This blog will answer the most asked concerns about using contract services.

Benefits of Hiring Freelance Software Developers

When hiring a freelancer, your first expectation is impeccable skills and expertise, followed closely by cost savings, or vice versa. Here are the most popular reasons why companies choose to hire freelance talent.

Cost-efficiency

Full-time employees cost an organisation a salary, as well as added investments in training, equipment, perks, overheads of utilities and rented space, and benefits such as healthcare and social security.

Freelancers work remotely using personal resources; businesses reduce investments without losing quality.

Reduced Risk

Businesses reduce financial risk by working with freelancers on an hourly, monthly, or project basis. Setting a clearly worded contract that the freelance software developer agrees to and signs, mitigates financial risk and clearly stipulates ownership of intellectual property.

Expertise

Freelancers with niche expertise such as software development company in London, provide companies with the best talents for their projects. Hiring freelancers for different projects allows businesses to match the varying demands of each project, streamlines workflows and ensures productivity.

Global Talent

Businesses choose professional freelancers expecting them to complete any given task with minimum input from the organization. You can access talent from across the globe on platforms such as UpWork, People Per Hour, Fiverr, and Toptal, amongst others. Client reviews on such portals help in assessing proficiency and expertise.

Work Quality

A freelancer is as good as her or his portfolio. Successful freelancers achieve credibility by building long-term relationships and providing consistent quality. Freelancer work depends on referrals and good reviews, hence a potential contract employee’s work portfolio, and reviews showcase their abilities.

Skills of A High-Quality Freelance Software Developer

The first criterion for hiring a developer for your project is knowing what skill sets are needed. List your project specifications to customise your search and determine the expertise required for the project. Freelance developers may work on web development (front-end, back-end, or full-stack developers) or mobile application development.

Front-end freelance developers

Front-end software developers design websites and web applications and manage the graphical interface of websites. They use HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and technologies like Foundation, AngularJS, Bootstrap, Backbone, DOM, and EmberJS to create layouts and graphics.

Back-end freelance developers

Back-end developers handle server-side processes such as website security, speed, databases, servers, application logic, and APIs. Back-end developers are typically skilled in Java, Python, and PHP, as well as SQL, Git, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Full-stack freelance developers

Full-stack freelance developers handle both the front and back ends of the website. They are responsible for everything from project planning to website coding. Front-end frameworks include HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and backends employ NodeJS, ExpressJS, Django, Flask, and C++. Full stack programmers manage database systems (such as SQL SERVER, MySQL, PostgreSQL, MongoDB, and Oracle Database), version control, and web hosting.

Mobile app developers

Mobile app developers develop, create, and test mobile applications for iOS and Android operating systems. Mobile app developers have programming language skills such as NodeJS, PHP, Python, or Ruby on Rails. They must also be proficient in back-end frameworks, database management and security, and hardware interaction. They need expertise in UI/UX design, security, and the Internet of things (IoT) for mobile devices.

How to Locate the Best Freelancers  Online

Talent portals such as Upwork, People Per Hour, and Fiverr showcase many talented freelance software developers. Here are steps on how to hire talent from an online opportunity marketplace.

Set a Hiring Budget

Look for similar job postings to learn what are the current hourly rates for the work you require. Define a reasonable budget. Beware that a freelance software developer may have higher hourly rates than regular employees.  

Clearly Define Project Requirements

Freelancers can be effective resources when you provide clear details about your project requirements. Be sure to mention the following

  • Allocated Budget
  • Payment terms
  • Project start and end dates
  • Clear job descriptions
  • Project expectations

Shortlist and Assess Freelance Software Developers

Top software developers typically work harder and achieve results because client reviews are essential to their ongoing success. The details you post make it easier for them to determine if they fit your requirements. Once you begin receiving qualified responses, choose according to their ratings and reviews, your interview process, and any sample project to build software and check their skills.

Six Factors to Consider when Hiring Freelance Sofware Developers

Hiring a freelancer revolves around their technical skills, certifications and education, attitude towards work, and ability to deliver results. Here are some crucial pointers to help you find the most appropriate fit for your project.

Technical Expertise

Freelancers must be able to handle the technical requirements of the project. They should be well-versed in software stacks, coding, development and task management software, version control tools, and deployment processes. Freelance software developers may charge more for specific technical abilities such as mobile app development, web development, or project rescues.

Experience

Freelancers who have worked on similar projects will have come across pain points and solutions. Any relevant experience enhances their expertise for your project and boosts their ability to strategise toward productive outcomes. Note that a freelancer’s experience typically increases their pay rate.

Cost

Experience and expertise increase a freelancer’s worth, but their services must provide value for your money. Knowing current hourly or project rates ensures that you are connecting with the right candidates. Freelancers that accept less payment may be new to the market and want to create a client base. Or, are choosing to supplement their income with multiple projects, which may reduce their work quality.

Professionalism

Education and certifications improve a freelancer’s pay scale, but they do not signal a freelancer’s abilities. The easiest way to gauge work ethic is from social proof such as client endorsements and their portfolio. A professional freelance software developer will openly share these details, with their client’s approval, of course.

Reliability

A reliable freelancer will have a long-standing client base, developed by consistent efforts and proven results. The more repeat customers a freelancer has, the better the chances of them being dependable. The following actions demonstrate the integrity of any freelance work and can be testified by customer reviews.

  • Following instructions
  • Regular updates
  • Quickly responding to queries
  • Willingly accepting critique
  • Meeting deadlines consistently

Location

One of the best features of acquiring freelance talent is access to global resources. Ensure that your communication skills match. Also, check that the culture and holidays in the freelancer’s location do not conflict with project development. Location can also affect fees, where freelancers in the USA charge the highest as compared to their Asian counterparts.

Conclusion

Finding and hiring the right freelance software developers is easy when you have the necessary checklists in place. Software development work is complex, make sure you are vetting your candidates carefully to get the best fit for your project. Good luck!

Source link

Continue Reading

MARKETING

State of Content Marketing in 2023

Published

on

State of Content Marketing in 2023

I just pressed send on the manuscript for my book to be released in September. It’s called Content Marketing Strategy (snappy, eh?), and Kogan Page will publish it.

Last week, marketing professor Philip Kotler wrote the foreword. I won’t spoil it, but he mentioned the need for a strategic approach to owned media.

He writes, “(T)he company doesn’t carry an account of showing these marketing assets and their value. As a result, the company cannot show the CEO and company board members a return on owned assets or content.”

Luckily, my upcoming book shows exactly how to do that. Funny how that works out.

In any event, all this struck me that now is an opportune time to look at where the beloved practice of content marketing stands today.

First, let’s go back to 1999 when Kotler published Kotler On Marketing, one of his more than 70 books. The latter 1990s – a time of tumultuous change – fueled most of the thinking for the book. But he knew that it was merely the beginning.

Kotler concluded the book with a section called “Transformational Marketing.”  In the next decade, he wrote, “marketing will be re-engineered from A to Z. Marketing will need to rethink fundamentally the processes by which they identify, communicate, and deliver customer value.”

Well, it’s taken over two decades, but it’s finally happening.

Consumers have changed, but marketing operations are just starting to

In case you didn’t notice, almost every marketing conference these days starts with the same four or five requisite slides:

  • Digital technologies, such as search and social media, empower consumers today.
  • Consumers research, engage, buy, and stay loyal to brands in ways that have fundamentally changed.
  • First-party data and privacy are of the utmost importance.
  • Artificial intelligence begins to threaten the idea of the usefulness of search and pressure companies to deliver better and more personalized experiences.

You get it. Consumer expectations in the age of the social, mobile, and AI-driven web are different than they were.

However, the continuing challenge in 2023 is that content and/or marketing operations in enterprise companies are only beginning to evolve. Most marketing departments have remained as they were when Kotler wrote his book — they still work from mid- to late-20th century hierarchies, strategies, and processes.

Most marketing departments still work with mid- to late-20th-century hierarchies, strategies, and processes, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Content marketing isn’t new, but a content marketing strategy is

For hundreds of years, businesses have used content to affect some kind of profitable outcome. But the reality is this: Whether it was John Deere’s The Furrow from the 1800s, Michelin’s guide to car maintenance in the early 1900s, or even Hasbro’s GI-Joe partnership with Marvel in the 1980s, content was not — and is not for the most part now — a scalable, repeatable practice within the function of marketing. In short, companies almost always treat content marketing as a project, not a process.

That fundamental change will finally take hold in 2023. It could happen because of the digital disruption and ease by which you can now publish and distribute content to aggregate your own audiences. It could happen through the natural evolution that the ultimate outcome – more than the marketing – matters more.

As we roll through 2023 and beyond, content — and the exponentially increasing quantities of it produced by every organization — deeply affects not just your marketing strategy, but your business strategy. Content in marketing is now bigger than simply content marketing, and it should be dealt with as a component of that business strategy throughout the enterprise.

#Content in marketing is bigger than #ContentMarketing. Treat it as a component of the business strategy, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

In 2023, the No. 1 focus of my consulting and advisory practice these days: help companies transform content into a repeatable, scalable, and measurable function that drives value through a multi-channel strategy. It’s bigger than publishing a blog, creating a lead-generating resource center, or sending an email newsletter. Today’s content marketing team is being absorbed into marketing because marketing and its various operations are fundamentally transforming into a content-producing machine.

It is not good enough to produce content “like a media company would.” The goal must be to operate as a media company does. Your job is not to change content to fit new marketing goals. Rather, your job in 2023 is to change marketing to fit the new business content goals.

Your job in 2023 is to change #marketing to fit the new business #content goals, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

The unaware builds a case for the aware

The term “content marketing” continues to evolve. Even today, I run across those who still call it “brand publishing,” “custom content,” or “inbound marketing.”

My take matches with what Kotler described in 1999. I always thought the term “content marketing” would become part of “marketing” more broadly. In 2023, that happened. So, returning to the lexiconic debates of 2013, 2014, or 2015 doesn’t seem terribly productive. Content marketing is just good marketing, and marketing is just good content marketing.

That said, two kinds of companies do well at the broader view of content marketing. Some of them, such as Cleveland Clinic, Red Bull, Arrow Electronics, HubSpot, and REI, have purposely devised content marketing strategies as differentiating approaches to their marketing. They are succeeding.

Others, like Amazon, Microsoft, JPMorgan Chase, and Peloton, backed into a smart content marketing strategy. But executives at those companies probably don’t recognize it as such. If asked (and some have been), they would say acquiring or launching a media company operation was just a smart business strategy to diversify their ability to reach their consumers consistently.

They’re right, of course. Many have yet to read books about content marketing, been influenced by the Content Marketing Institute, or even recognize content marketing as a separate approach (as far as I know). And they are also succeeding.

Consider this proof: As I write this article, six companies have a market capitalization of more than $1 trillion. Four of the six wholly or partially use the business model of media creation to further marketing and business strategies. Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, and Amazon are all, in part, media companies that also sell products and services.

Why would you not avail yourself of that same model?

The future looks cloudy and bright

As for the overall state of enterprise content marketing, it’s in transition, as all marketing is. As a focused project-based approach, working in ad-hoc ways across a business, content marketing appears to have proven its worth. Hundreds of entries every year to the Content Marketing Awards feature myriad case studies using content marketing techniques in strategic ways to profitably affect business results.

And yet, it remains to be seen whether you can make content marketing a scalable, repeatable, measurable function within marketing.

As to what the discipline’s future holds? At last year’s Content Marketing World, one of my favorite events, the Executive Forum gathered senior leaders from brands succeeding with content marketing. As we talked about the future, one participant said: “The only certainty is change. I can’t tell you where or when, but I do know there will be change, and this is the principle we build on now.”

As for my take, Kotler’s idea of transforming the marketing function seems to have gotten lost along the digital road traveled by marketers. In so many cases, marketing – and especially content – remains just an on-demand service function within the business. Its sole job is to produce ever more voluminous amounts of content that describe the value of the brand (or its products or services) so that sales can sell more efficiently, customer support can serve more effectively, and all manner of customer interfaces are more beneficial to both sides.

However, and maybe because I need to rationalize now that my book is finished, I passionately believe it’s finally time for marketing to reclaim its ability to create value — not just reflect it in the polished shine of your traditional products and services.

Almost 27 years ago today, Microsoft founder Bill Gates wrote an essay called Content is King. In it, he said that “(C)ontent is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting.”

It certainly was one of his more prescient moments. Nearly three decades later, his words have proven true. The essay title has become the rallying cry for thousands and thousands of entrepreneurs who now make their living on creating, managing, optimizing, and measuring content on the internet. (A Google search for “content is king” nets more than 1.7 million results.)

But it’s the last line of his essay that I find the most visionary: “(T)hose who succeed will propel the Internet forward as a marketplace of ideas, experiences, and products – a marketplace of content.”

That’s what content marketing is for me in 2023. It’s just marketing – optimizing the value of ideas, experiences, and products in a marketplace of content.

Time to get to work.

It’s your story. Tell it well.

Get Robert’s take on content marketing industry news in just five minutes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=videoseries

Watch previous episodes or read the lightly edited transcripts.

Subscribe to workday or weekly CMI emails to get Rose-Colored Glasses in your inbox each week. 

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT:

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



Source link

Continue Reading

MARKETING

27 Best About Us and About Me Page Examples [+Templates]

Published

on

Your about page summarizes your history, values, and mission — all in one place. That’s a tall order for just a few paragraphs. If you’re feeling stuck, turn to these about-page examples for inspiration. 

about us page example: laptop held in palm of hand

(more…)

Continue Reading

Trending

en_USEnglish