BA Proves CMOs, CIOs Must Collaborate On Customer Experience

Any marketer out there who thinks the IT part of their business is the domain of the CIO and he or she should be left to run their own show need only look at BA to realise a painful truth. IT is increasingly becoming the core of a customer's experience, and that is most definitely right in the centre of the CMO's remit.

Following the aftermath of a massive hack in which 380,000 customers had their payment details compromised, Campaign brings news this morning that at +38, BA's impression score is ten points lower now than this time last year, according to YouGov BrandIndex data. The score, as you would imagine, is a sliding scale of what a consumer thinks of a brand.

Ironically, the only good news for BA here is that it has been worse. Last year its impression score slipped all the way down to +18 after an IT failure left planes grounded and customers stranded.

it could get even worse for BA because, beyond impression scores, a legal firm has announced that it is hitting BA with a GBP500m group action suit for customers affected by the hacking incident. 

That's the bad news. The odd part of the puzzle is that despite all the much-publicised incidents, BA keeps getting named as the nation's favourite airline. For example, it topped the big names of the airline industry in last year's Kantar Millward Brown BrandZ study.

Then there is reliability. Despite the headlines, a Which? study has today found that rather obviously, easyJet, BA and RyanAir dominate in the number of delayed flights experienced over the past year. They do so, of course, because they operate more flights out of the UK than other airlines. When the percentage of delayed flights is worked out, BA is sixth worst for long-haul, but then doesn't make the top three in short or medium-haul flights. As an FYI, Tui and Thomas Cook appear to be far more unreliable, with Norwegian Air clearly ahead as the most unreliable long-haul operator. 

So the impression score -- what people think of BA -- is a great way to show how factors beyond the traditional scope of the CMO can have a massive impact on their core responsibility, maintaining a brand's good name and favourability scores through excellent customer experiences.

If you have ever thought customer experience is limited to the speed of the booking process or pace of transit through check-in and then the smile of the faces of the cabin crew, think again. You can have a great booking process and friendly staff -- you can even have a surprisingly good punctuality record -- but if consumers can trust you with their credit card details, they will find it hard to recommend you to friends.

Cybersecurity is an integral part of the customer experience. It is one of those issues that is easy to overlook until it's too late -- but just look at a brand such as TalkTalk, and you can clearly see the devastating effect on customer trust and confidence after a hack attack. 

If BA teaches marketers one thing, it is that IT is the customer experience and that favourite old subject of a CMO and CIO having to work closer together is truer today than it has ever been.

Customers may love your services, but if they can't trust your IT, that will have a massive negative impact on brand image.

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