Re-Org news….Marketing Department to report into Customer Service organization

July 13, 2007 at 11:34 am 1 comment

I attended a talk this morning by Andy Sernovitz, author of Word of Mouth Marketing.  Lot’s of good points from Andy, but two things in particular stood out for me – both coming from the Q&A.

#1

Question (paraphrased):  “Andy, you made a strong case for how customer service/support functions should not be separate strategies from marketing.  The challenge is call centers are cost centers and it’s difficult to change the investment model.  Would you say that customer service should report into the marketing organization?

Answer (also paraphrased): “No, the marketing organization should report into the customer service department.”

In the room of 80+ people, there were maybe 5-6 people I recognized from the support business and I’d guess the rest of the room from marketing functions.  My colleagues and I got a great chuckle from that…while watching the rest of rooms heads snap back in some amount of bewilderment – great moment- thank you Andy.  In all seriousness, changing organizational lines in very large corporations often just creates new problems, but I think the overall point is very valid.  I think the question to ask is whether 1:1 discussion and joint planning occur between your call center business and your central marketing organizations?  I know this will be an item for me to follow up on in my own world.

#2

Question (paraphrased):  “This word of mouth stuff makes sense, but how would work in a B2B context vs B2C.” 

Answer (also paraphrased):  “Ahh, this is the 1st or 2nd question at every speech.  Why would it be different?  Yes, the messages might be different, but the motivation and influence issues are exactly the same as in B2C.” 

This question (and answer) reminded me of an issue I’ve long been passionate about.  Many B2B companies struggle accepting the validity of the evidence of the methods of B2C companies (and vice verse) as there is a fundamental assumption that the marketing rules are different.  Even in companies that are both B2B and B2C, these two marketing functions sit in different places organizationally and really don’t typically interact with one another:  co-existence vs co-learning.  Ok, some things are different; the messages and the delivery vehicles would be good examples.  But what influences buying or trust or referral behavior aren’t different, are they?  Businesses don’t buy products, people inside businesses buy products.  I work in a large corporation and I approve many large POs on a regular basis to buy good and/or services.  When you sell to me, you are not selling to a business, you are selling to a consumer who represents a business and your track-record for success (ie references or past experiences) is still the #1 deciding factor in who gets the business. 

So, while there are some functional differences between B2B and B2C, I’d offer the following:  Every business is simply a collection of individual consumers.  Buying is a emotional decision in either case (you are taking a risk – perhaps a bigger risk when it’s your job).  This is especially true if you represent a business that sells to both businesses and consumers.  If you don’t think your users experience with your consumer products will impact how they talk about your business products, you are making a huge mistake. 

 

Sean

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Andy Sernovitz's Damn, I Wish I'd Thought of That!  |  July 17, 2007 at 7:00 am

    BtoB vs. BtoC word of mouth

    Almost every time I speak the first or second question from the audience is What about BtoB word of mouth. I always give the same answer … and it rarely satisfies the asker …but it’s what I believe: BtoB word

    Reply

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