How To Boost Collaboration With Customer Service and Digital Teams — Q&A

Gladly Team

Read Time

5 minute read

Every ecommerce brand’s goal should be to create a strong, loyalty-driving customer experience. Building that experience is often discussed in the context of the support center, where brands directly interact with shoppers — but digital experiences, driven through UX-focused marketing and design, can also play a huge role in winning customer loyalty.

Many organizations have a communication gap between these two crucial departments. If brands do the hard work of removing interdepartmental barriers, their customer experiences will improve across their digital presence.

Bridging the Gap Between Support and Digital Marketing for Unified CX

Digital marketing and support teams should be collaborative and not live in silos — otherwise, they risk detracting from the CX that keeps customers loyal. When the digital marketing team designs a UX that keeps support processes and personalization in mind, customers will notice — and reward those brands with repeat business.

Brands can actively work toward bridging the gap between these disparate teams in a few key ways. Team leaders should provide interdepartmental training, coaching, meet-up sessions, and more conduits for idea exchanges and discussions. These collaborations can help these teams work together to improve and understand certain facets of the overall customer experience, including:

  • Designing a digital experience around modern customer expectations
  • Measuring and optimizing the impact of personalization
  • Creating more personalized web experiences across the customer journey
  • Interpreting how experiences contribute to improved self-service functionality

An Expert’s Take on Breaking Down Interdepartmental Barriers

Sara Hanley, Sr. Director of Growth Marketing at Gladly, knows a thing or two about striking a balance between digital and CX teams. Below we discuss her experience working with numerous Gladly clients to break down barriers between departments and create a communication bridge for better customer outcomes.

1. What are the main roadblocks for creating channels of communication between digital marketing and support teams?

SH: I think one of the major challenges that digital and support teams face is departmental silos and a lack of clarity on what each team is responsible for delivering. More so with digital because it can take on many shapes at different organizations.

Digital teams have different goals and objectives at every company that are not one-size-fits-all. They use more of a variety of tools, channels, and strategies to nurture soon-to-be and current customers into an offering than support teams do.

For example, many digital teams are focused on acquiring new customers and fostering existing customers through journeys solely drawn from digital channels. Digital channels don’t talk back in this way — they mostly provide data. Digital teams rely on data, user behavior, customer journey mapping and funnels, and third-party software to help make informed decisions. It’s great quantitative data, but the heart of the “why” is missing.

Support teams, on the other hand, have conversations — whether in person, via chat, email, etc. — that allow them to have a two-way dialogue. The insights they get from their customers can greatly influence the way in which a digital team adjusts its strategy and provides relevant, personalized experiences for customers. This includes what offerings to showcase, what products to elevate, and the pain points and friction points the customers have — all of which can benefit a digital team greatly.

Digital teams primarily only have a one-way conversation and make a lot of hypotheses in order to optimize web experiences. Support teams have firsthand sentiment and feedback that help provide the qualitative context that digital is oftentimes missing. Conversely, digital holds the mass-scale data and trends that the support team could use in their day-to-day. For example, digital teams can see in real-time if a portion of their digital strategy is resonating or causing friction with customers.

Gladly Pro Tip

Digital teams can learn from support and turn one-sided communication into more effective, loyalty-building conversations. The digital experience should further build lasting relationships — like how some brands use social media to become radically personal brands.

2. How can support teams best communicate their needs to digital teams to make the downstream results better? Is there a “language barrier” between the two?

SH: I think there’s a big language barrier between the two teams, but even more importantly, the two teams aren’t speaking to each other on a regular basis. They haven’t adopted the habit of or folded the other team into their strategy and decision making — they are absent from the decision table.

Loyal customers come back — and come back often. They expect the same level of personalization and concierge-like treatment that they receive in support scenarios as they do when skimming social media and making their way to your website.

When digital teams are disconnected from support, it can lead to the digital experience being a friction point rather than a smooth and seamless transition. A customer doesn’t care what point of entry or exit they take in your organization’s digital footprint — rather, it’s the organization’s job to create consistency and a seamless journey from the very first touchpoint through to when they are a customer of many years. When the two teams aren’t talking, regularly holding feedback loops, and learning from each other, it can manifest in your digital experiences and ultimately hurt your brand.

Gladly Pro Tip

Your CX solution plays a significant role in your brand’s sustained success — therefore, it's important to get your digital team's buy-in when selecting your technology partner. Use this guide to get interdepartmental buy-in on your next support solution to make sure every team understands the value of these tools.

3. Do you think digital marketing teams don’t always prioritize personalization as much as they should? Is there a reason why?

SH: Hands down, yes. Personalization is hard. And it’s a major investment. What comes through in digital experiences directly reflects the strategy and understanding of the company on the inside. How well do you know your customers? Can you predict what they may like or dislike? Do you have an understanding of where the friction points are in your customer journey?

Customers expect a level of personalization that makes it feel as if the offering or experience was made just for them at the exact right time they were looking for it. It takes the right technical foundation, regular insights, creative, UX, customer journey mapping, and customer insight to make it feel as if what was digitally created was personally meant for a customer. There’s a lot of room for interpretation.

Gladly Pro Tip

Support teams are trained in the art of empathy and personalization, but there’s no reason why that training couldn't be used beyond this department. Try introducing these practices to your digital team, such as these Gladly Connect courses on applying personalization in a customer context.

4. What are some brands you’ve seen that have been particularly effective at bridging the gap between digital marketing and support?

SH: I’m always impressed by luxury brands because they spend the time and energy to get to know their customers. They create luxurious digital experiences that make their brand feel immersive and touchable, something that a person can feel and evokes emotion.

BMW does this the best. They create such well-crafted, curated experiences digitally and they translate to their showroom floor and trickle through their departments. Even their service and digital support teams are bought in and provide a level of concierge service that makes it hard not to feel special. They’ve built a lifestyle — the ultimate customer loyalty goal. I’m always enamored with what they are doing to build customer loyalty and the unique ways in which they showcase their dedication to customer service.

Another brand that I find does this incredibly well is Wayfair. I’m amazed at how well they deliver personalized experiences to me across numerous digital channels. From their site to their app, they deliver a seamless and easy customer experience with user-friendliness in mind. They use robust search filtering, detailed product descriptions, and other tools that enrich the experience. I’ve had a few instances where I’ve needed to contact their support team and they operate in a synergy with their platforms. They offer very timely and personalized customer service and always ensure my questions are met. They really do have the same level of care and attention to detail across their online and support presences, which creates a cohesive and satisfying shopping experience.

Gladly Pro Tip

'Concierge-level service' describes the quality with which luxury brands treat their guests — but any brand can provide this level of support by building a customer-focused organization.

How to Boost Customer Service Collaboration Across Departments

Creating an Environment for Open Knowledge Sharing

Customer service teams interact with shoppers daily, providing them with access to a mountain of customer data. As a CX leader, encouraging your team to consistently share this data with other departments can offer a wealth of cross-team benefits:

  • Level sets your real-time customer experience
  • Encourages interdepartmental problem-solving
  • Clarifies current areas of strength and opportunity
  • Reinforces a customer-centric mindset outside of support

By sharing this knowledge openly — whether through department- or team-level meetings, collaborative messaging channels, or quarterly reporting — you’ll foster better results for every team within your organization.

Boosting Customer Engagement and Customer Satisfaction

Often, customer support and/or digital teams are responsible for gathering data about customer engagement and satisfaction. Examine how this happens at your own company. For example, are you regularly sending out engagement or CSAT surveys? If so, which team owns that process? Are they sharing the resulting data afterward, and if so, with whom?

Gladly Pro Tip

Want to start gathering customer engagement and satisfaction data but don’t know where to start? Look for a support platform that offers robust CSAT reporting and measurement. Some of the most popular partners for this include Delighted, Medallia, TurnTo, and Qualtrics.

Pushing for Collaborative Problem Solving

Facilitating better communication between departments increases the likelihood of sharing valuable data related to customer experiences. When departments interact more, they’re able to surface pressing issues that others can help solve through their day-to-day work.

Gladly Pro Tip

Customer service collaboration can increase efficiency while boosting customer experience. For instance, customers tend to repeatedly contact support for product-specific information on sizing, materials, or ingredients. The CX team can inform the digital team that customers are requesting these details — that way the digital team can answer these questions directly on the product pages, which should then cut down on contact to support teams.

Using the Right Collaboration Tool

It’s important to use the right tool for the right job, but when it comes to collaborating across departments, it’s even more crucial. Teams looking for an integrated, customer-centric platform or software should prioritize the following features:

  • Enhances efficiency
  • Unlocks interdepartmental task management
  • Grants access to actionable data
  • Centers interactions around customers, not case numbers or tickets

A Checklist for Integrating Digital and Support Teams

Use this checklist to gauge how well your digital and support teams are interacting with each other to deliver high-quality customer experiences.

  • I’ve established an overarching CX strategy to implement across teams.
  • I’ve established communication channels between my digital and support teams.
  • My digital and support teams have one-on-ones or regular meet-ups to discuss insights and applications of CX tactics.
  • My support team is versed in digital experience journeys so agents can help ideate opportunities for optimization.
  • My digital team has received training for implementing personalization across channels, including social media, SMS, and email
  • I feel confident that my customer’s digital experience matches the high quality of their support experience.
  • A Cohesive, Interdepartmental Approach to CX

    By breaking down communication and implementation barriers between digital and support teams, brands can pave the way toward better, more unified customer experiences. For a clearer picture of what concierge-level service looks like in practice, try a demo of Gladly and see how the right solution can unite teams to collaborate toward higher quality CX for all.


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