Digital Marketer or Digital Customer Service Agent?


Are digital marketers and digital customer service staff like apples and oranges or are they more closely related than they might care to admit?

For me the difference between them is becoming increasingly blurred. The core function of a digital marketer is to help grow the business and success will usually be measured by factors like Dave McClure’s pirate metrics:

  • A: Acquisition — where / what channels do users come from?
  • A: Activation — what % have a “happy” initial experience?
  • R: Retention — do they come back & re-visit over time?
  • R: Referral — do they like it enough to tell their friends?
  • R: Revenue — can you monetize any of this behaviour

How would you define the core function of a digital customer service agent? Is it also to grow the business?

Are Digital Customer Service Agents responsible for Growth?

I believe the answer should be a resounding “Yes!” The customer service team is often considered the poor relation of the cool and creative types in marketing, but this is changing. 

Referring back to the AARRR metrics, customer service plays a key role under every heading and in many cases is more important than marketing.

Digital Customer Service as an Acquisition Strategy

If you provide good customer service people will hear about it and come looking to do business with you. The classic example here is Zappos. Their legendary customer support is referenced at conferences the world over. There is no doubting that many people head to the Zappos website to buy shoes, not because they have the best selection or prices, but because they have the best service.

Digital Customer Service as an Activation Lever

In an online context having a happy initial experience probably means getting to value quickly. In many cases this can be achieved without human intervention.

But the growth of live chat (particularly ones that proactively engage customers) shows how important customer service can be. Helping someone who has gotten stuck or is struggling to find what they’re looking for can increase happiness levels dramatically.

Digital Customer Service as a Retention Tool

There are two key elements to retention.

One is maintaining a place at the top of the customer’s mind and marketing can play a big role in that.

The other is wowing the customer so much every time they visit that they do not consider going anywhere else for the product or service next time they need it. This can be achieved through product quality, price or service. Market forces will typically dictate product quality and price, so service becomes the defining differentiator.

Digital Customer Service as a Referral Channel

You can have the best thought out referral programme in the world, but if your customer service is not up to scratch people are not going to recommend your product.

In fact, according to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, news of bad customer service reaches more than twice as many ears as praise for good service.


news of bad customer service reaches more than twice as many ears as praise for good service
Source: White House Office of Consumer Affairs 

Digital Customer Service as a Revenue Generator

It is never easier to sell to someone than when you are in a conversation with them, be that digital or in person. Properly trained customer service staff can see the upsell opportunities and convert them. And new messaging features in platforms like Facebook Messenger should improve conversion rates.

Compare this to blasting deals out on promotional tweets and Facebook posts. via considerably more likely than blasting promotional


There are undoubtedly areas where customer service doesn’t materially influence customer retention (e.g. Government agencies and monopolies). But for 99% of businesses it is a critical component of success.

The leadership of a company needs to set the standard and provide resources for customer support. Those executives who see customer service as a cost centre that needs to be streamlined out of existence should tread carefully. The oft-quoted line that acquiring a new customer is nearly 7 times more expensive than retaining an existing one (REF) shows the true value of customer service.

In my opinion, in an age where customers are better informed and can make themselves heard, customer service is one of the key differentiators in the marketplace. That makes customer service staff a key part of the marketing mix.

Customer service staff are marketers!


About the Author: Oisin Ryan
Oisin is the Founder and CEO of ServiceDock, which helps brick-and-mortar businesses drive customer loyalty and acquisition by enabling them to deliver improved customer experience and service.

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