Your customer service and marketing automation is only as strong as your weakest link


I want to share with you an exchange that I had with a local contact of mine (Joanne Munro @jojomunroro) on twitter the other day following something I tweeted. Here’s the exchange:

Now, automation is fine and automated responses are good too but only if they are in tune with everything else that you do in your customer service and marketing function.

What, I believe, this exchange illustrates is that when one department or element of your business ‘drops the ball’ it can shine a negative light on the rest of your business and your reputation.

Timed and automated responses are fine so long as everyone does their job in the right amount of time or, in this case, does their job at all.

There is another way of doing it. One, that is a little more labour intensive but has more flexibility built in to allow for unforeseen things happening. Why not make your process like a relay race, where each part of the process passes the ‘baton’ on once they have completed their job.

Your team, process or business is still only as strong or as fast or as effective as its weakest link but at least the ‘baton’ can’t set off without the runner.

Photo Credit: scpgt via Compfight cc

9 comments On Your customer service and marketing automation is only as strong as your weakest link

  • Adrian

    I like your suggestion of making responsibilities clear in the ‘relay race’ example.

    I think responsibility is key here. Who in that organisation (there are countless similar offenders) is accountable for an area of the business that is comprehensively disappointing so many people? Why don’t they care?

    If they don’t know there’s a problem, then they should resign because everyone else knows.

    If they do know, they should resign because they’re not fixing it.

    Having held a similar role, I know from personal experience that it is possible to improve customer satisfaction. But I also know that if you don’t measure it (obviously in a way that is appropriate for your customers) then the numbers that are measured, like profit, will mask the problem. But only for a while – profit is a trailing indicator in this case.

  • Hello Adrian
    What can I say except that instances like this are not rare. We speak of a brand or an organisation or a business or a company. And thus we delude ourselves into think there is one person, one entity, out here in the world with us. The reality is that ‘one entity’ is a multiplicity – each part having its own people, own priorities….

    Given this reality we should, if we were sane, be delighted when it all works – when all the parts come together and we experience a seamless interaction.


    • Indeed, Maz, I believe that they’re not rare. I hope, however, if we keep unsurfacing them that more companies will start to pay attention.

      That is my hope. Will it happen remains to be seen.


  • Adrian,

    In my (sadly not inconsiderable) experience half the problem with automation is that an e-mail is written, then a voice recording is made, then a menu is set up, then 2 years later another automated e-mail is created, and an SMS message, and it goes on and on.

    But because it is all automated it is also all hidden away and nobody ever goes back and looks at the whole thing.

    So you get gibbeish.

    On a positive note, it keeps me employed


  • Hi Adrian,
    Reading your articles is like giving words to my own thoughts. Thanks.

    James, so agree with you on the automated SMSs, etc… People in organizations move on and there is no record of who introduced an SMS and what triggers it! A clean-up is practically impossible as no one now wants to ‘own’ the repercussions!

    • Thanks for your comment and kind words, Richie.

      Perhaps we should advocate that companies do an annual ‘spring clean’ to keep on top of the mess that they create internally?

      What do you think?


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