The new role of marketing? Create people-friendly businesses.
Advertising is always changing. Remember when UX was all the rage, along with its little brother, UI? Then they kind of merged and created the monster of CX? And everyone decided they needed CX expertise? If you don’t remember that, then you’re not paying attention. Because CX has subsumed every other type of acronym in the world of advertising right now.
And it’s for good reason. A recent Gartner study showed that "89% of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience, versus 36% four years ago." That’s massive. Customer Experience (CX) is the darling of the industry right now. I agree with every tenant of CX, but I think it has a higher order need than just improving the Customer Experience. Businesses that are taking over the world understand that at their core, they have to be people-friendly. And that’s really what seamless CX does ... it makes businesses people-friendly.
Taxis are inherently not friendly. Flagging them down is terrible. The payment process is super terrible. Lyft has succeeded by putting a great CX layer on top of a bad business, making it much more people-friendly.
Hotels are generally not designed for the way people live. The rooms are all the same, and there is very little allowance for the way people want to live. Airbnb put a great CX layer onto the lodging rental experience that accounted for people’s individual tastes, which created a people-friendly business.
Every business can move in the right direction if they focus on a few things:
It all begins with empathy. Companies must be able to (or hire agencies who are able to) be incredibly empathetic. They need to put themselves in the shoes of people who use their product or service, and they need to uncover a brilliant, targeted insight that allows the business to be useful.
Once they have the insight, they need to make sure they are solving for the right problem. This is one of the biggest pitfalls of advertising. We don’t spend enough time identifying and aligning on the problem because we are so eager to impress the client with our brilliant solutions. It is incumbent upon agencies to act more like consultants in that respect; agencies need to meet with the right people to make sure we are solving the right problem that will create the most people-friendly outcome.
Obfuscation is the enemy of friendliness. It’s crazy that so many businesses overcomplicate things when we all know that simplicity wins. A writer in our office has a sign of the Ron Swanson quote, “Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.” And it speaks to me. Focusing on something is hard, but necessary to create utility.
It’s often hard for companies to objectively address CX failures with internal resources. In fact, one Oracle study said that 93% of senior executives stated that improving customer experience is one of their company’s top three priorities in the next two years, [but] only 37% are currently moving forward with a formal initiative to improve it.
This represents a huge opportunity for ad agencies. Great creatives and planners inherently embrace the tenants of people-friendly business creation and design, and as an industry, we are uniquely suited to tackle this problem and provide solutions that create real business value.