A shock to the System: Customer Support is Marketing

I’ve been doing some research relating to our eServices organization at EMC.  It does not hurt to look around at what others might recommend. And I’m really glad I did. I found this http://bit.ly/OaCG5 on the Consortium for Service Innovation website. It was written back in 2006 and certainly it makes good reading from the perspective of what EMC did that this paper was recommending.

This really stood out to me from it: “The open society, the unrestricted access to knowledge, the unplanned and uninhibited association of “people” for its furtherance—these are what may make a vast, complex, ever-growing, ever-changing, evermore specialized and expert technological world, nevertheless a world of human community.” – J. Robert Oppenheimer, 1954

It’s an “duh, of course!”  moment when you look at Community engagement and Support in general. Gone are the days where a Support organization does everything for the Customer or even knows all that can be done with it’s own products. It’s no secret that EMC has Customers who are highly knowledgeable about our products, even more so than our own Engineers. That’s because they are on the front line, mixing our products in real production solutions.  Luckily EMC eats it’s own dog food, in that we use our own products and face similar challenges our Customers face in Production. So we share our Customers experiences.  Our Support Forums and the ECN Community overall has the vibrancy of the “human community” that Oppenheimer was talking about. But what stands out about ECN is the Support centric engagement across it.

I was notified about this blog post by Jeremiah Owyang (via a colleague in Marketing 🙂 ) : http://bit.ly/qLx8HN. It brilliantly covers the requirements we have today for Customer Support engagement, and offers a 5 tier strategy for Social Support.. Worth a read and a listen to the included video.One thing that Jeremiah said stuck out to me as horrifying, but is absolutely true: “Support is Marketing“. I almost screamed and ran to the shower to scrub my self down 🙂 .

I’ll be honest in my past life as a support engineer I had no love of marketing. In my experience marketing and support were always at logger heads. Marketing made the pitch and got the glory while Support was left to pick up the pieces. And those of you who have had the experience of the “Marketing web site” that’s marketing owned. Guess what, in nearly all cases of a Marketing website, 85% to 95% of it’s traffic is related to seeking some type of Support! That’s a fact when it comes to measuring EMC’s Powerlink website traffic.

But Jeremiah is spot on, Support is Marketing today. It’s a brand differentiation. EMC has it. Hell even Marketing people realizing this are  horrified I am sure:) . But the tide is changing. And so are roles and our definition of ourselves. I’m quite happy to see myself in a marketing capacity, when it comes to talking about eServices Support and superior branding due to Support.

Marketing and Support have to engage with each other to move forward. Rest assured it’s happening in EMC. Most times it’s somewhat subconsciously. We are focused on our Customers. We have to keep the marketing and support relationship strong. Because no matter where marketing decides to engage, Facebook, Linked In, Twitter etc, they have to be ready for that customer complaint or query for help with the product. Without the support presence and the required processes the brand could suffer untold damage. That’s my €0.2 cent anyway!

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