Commentary

Why Marketing Must Lead The Charge With Customer Experience

Providing a better customer experience (CX) is no longer just a competitive advantage; it’s a matter of survival. More than 80% of brands surveyed by Gartner in 2018 said their success is mostly or entirely dependent on CX.

With so many functions -- from product development and support to supply chain to post-sales service -- touching the customer, who should own CX?

This creates an opportunity to elevate marketers to a crucial, new role, as drivers of change across the ecosystem, with a responsibility to the enterprise that extends beyond the marketing silo. The goal: to create a seamless CX that anticipates customer needs and exceeds expectations with every interaction, at every stage of the relationship.

Why marketing? 

No one has their finger on the pulse of the customer more than marketing. Today’s data-driven marketing organizations have access to valuable information on customer behavior, purchase preferences and experience with the product or service.

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These insights are essential for creating the personalized experiences consumers demand -- and to inform enterprise decisions to improve product/service design, deepen customer engagement, improve the sales cycle and expand share of the consumers’ wallet. 

Rethinking the mindset

Driving ecosystem-wide change is easier said than done. Marketers must first overcome entrenched ways of thinking.

Too many companies view CX through a very narrow lens, focusing only on the front-line exchange and what the customer sees. But what about back-end systems? How are billing and finance changing to accommodate the desired customer experience? In some cases, these interactions can make customers feel as if they are engaging with an entirely different company.

Without an end-to-end review of all functions and without the commitment by all stakeholders to put the customer at the center of every investment and decision, no amount of front-end “bells and whistles” will suffice to move the needle on customer satisfaction.

To successfully transform CX, companies must adopt design thinking: a way to combine deep customer insights with an understanding of market forces and the technologies available to facilitate more meaningful interactions with customers. This approach requires that all functions have a seat at the CX transformation table.

Leading the change

First and foremost, marketers need to break out of their own silo and share this holistic vision of CX with their colleagues across the ecosystem. They need to understand the critical role each function plays, from the back-end to the front-end, across channels and partner organizations.

Marketers must present to senior leadership a strong business case for horizontal ownership of CX that takes into account all contributions -- as opposed to the status quo, where CX is relegated to a siloed activity for one function.

By reminding everyone to put the customer first, marketers will be better positioned to work together with other functions to reimagine CX while owning their enterprise's growth and innovation objectives.

Delivering business impact through CX transformation

Forward-thinking marketing teams are already embracing this challenge and working with colleagues to drive CX-led transformations that deliver a measurable impact on customer satisfaction and business revenue.

For example, an airline was forced to cancel many flights due to a natural disaster, stranding hundreds of travelers who flooded the company with phone calls, emails and social media posts.

This customer satisfaction nightmare gave marketing an inspiration: What if the airline could analyze these customer communications and extract key insights to help solve consumer frustrations when traveling? They worked with colleagues across the enterprise to create a system that provides personalized guidance on how travelers can get where they need to go in near real time. The resulting solution showed measurable increases in customer satisfaction. Even better, the improved communication with customers also increased bookings and revenue.

This kind of CX innovation could never have been realized without collaboration among multiple stakeholders across the enterprise, or without strong sponsorship from senior management.

Engaging the ecosystem

Marketers have always played a central role in CX. Now it’s time to engage and lead the rest of the ecosystem in this endeavor. It begins with opening the lines of communication and focusing on shared goals. Your customers will love you for it — and so will your shareholders.

1 comment about "Why Marketing Must Lead The Charge With Customer Experience".
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  1. Ron Kurtz from American Affluence Research Center, June 17, 2019 at 5:53 p.m.

    Is this a new perspective? I thought the marketing department was always supposed to be the consumer advocate within a company. 

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