Choose one: great customer experience or brilliant marketing?

Why there doesn’t have to be a choice between a great customer experience and brilliant marketing. The customer experience and marketing debate.

  • Customer experience is the new marketing
  • Will marketing kill customer experience?
  • Marketing vs CX

These are all titles of blogs that focus on the topic of customer experience (CX) and marketing that I’ve seen over the last couple of months. A quick search for this topic reveals lots of varying opinions and arguments for each side. All of them I believe miss the point somewhat, but the most alarming point I came across was this one:

“The goal [of customer experience marketing] is to stop selling products and services and start meeting customer expectations and delivering personalised experiences.”

Stop selling products? Has the world gone mad? Having worked in customer experience for the last 10 years, I, more than most, know the importance of putting the customer at the heart of a business but let’s not forget what we’re here to do and that is sell products and make money – how we do that is of course a different matter and can absolutely include an amazing customer experience – in fact, it has to.

We’ve seen it all before…

The buzz around customer experience right now is the same one I saw when social media first emerged, brands were seduced and invested heavily in strategies to acquire new followers, get likes and receive comments, and for a while everyone was happy, but then the questions started coming. Where is the ROI? How do we link our followers to sales? Does a like equal loyalty?

When marketers struggled to answer these questions people started to question the value of social media but the problem was they were asking the wrong questions. What should they have been asking is: Why are we doing this? and Why are we investing so much of our budgets?

The problem was because of the hype surrounding social media at the time, the brands treated it as an arms race and shifted large proportions of their budgets towards this channel and away from tried and tested channels which were delivering results. What they should have done in hindsight was invest a little, treat it as an above-the-line activity, measure the results and at the same time continue to invest in channels that were proven to deliver an ROI.

This is the same problem I foresee happening with customer experience if we aren’t careful.

Remembering why we are here

The goal of marketing hasn’t changed in 100 years and in my opinion, it never will. Yes, it will include a wider remit, new techniques, innovative technology and different strategies but the goal will always remain the same – to raise awareness of a product or service and convince consumers it has enough value so they make a purchase. Professor Philip Kotler eloquently defines marketing as:

“The science and art of exploring, creating, and delivering value to satisfy the needs of a target market at a profit.”

Now that’s not to say that customers don’t value great service, high quality, brilliant communication and seamless experiences, on the contrary, they are integral, but they all serve to acquire more customers and keep existing ones loyal.

Why marketing and CX don’t need to be mutually exclusive

Net Promoter Score (or simply NPS as it’s often referred to) is the most common and widely used CX metric. It uses a simple scale (0 – 10) to measure how likely customers are to recommend you. If customers score you between 0-6 they are called a detractor (the haters), 7-8 they are passive (they don’t really care) and 9-10 they are promoters (your loyal army of fans who will tell other people how great you are).

To calculate your NPS score you detract from the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters – the better the score the more likely you are to have increased revenues and profitability. But here’s the thing, it is just a theory and like all theories, it may not work for you so you need to take control – but how?

One thing that hardly anyone does is actually get their promoters to promote them. This may sound strange but most brands just say thank you and leave it to the consumer to decide whether they actually will, and we all know that just because someone says something doesn’t mean they will actually do it.

A way of encouraging this is to explicitly ask as your promoters to do this after they have scored you. This could be as simple as getting them to share their positive comment on social media. However to really take advantage of this we would recommend incentivising them, it doesn’t have to be much either and can tie into your existing marketing programmes.

For instance, give the user a £5 credit for sharing their positive feedback and combine it with an exclusive offer for them and any friend who takes it up. This not only increases brand awareness and positive word of mouth it also encourages repeat business and helps acquire new customers.

This is just one example of how you can be customer focused and revenue focussed at the same time.

Other ways to bring customer experience and marketing together include…

  • Using customer testimonials in marketing campaigns and collateral
  • Segmenting your customer data using sentiment
  • Asking customers for feedback on your marketing
  • Creating a customer journey that included both service and marketing touchpoints
  • Using customer experience insight in your marketing automation

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