Why are so many marketing strategies still blinkered about customer experience?

According to Forrester’s 2017 CX Index™, the quality of the customer experience for most industries and companies plateaued or, even worse, declined. They forecast that in 2018 ‘30% of companies will see further declines in CX quality and lose a point of growth’.

Never has it been more critical that our marketing strategies enable us to design seamless customer experiences that drive growth.

And the word ‘seamless’ is key. From extensive work with our clients in this area, as well as our own global research, we know that growing companies excel at developing marketing strategies which are joined up across all levers of the customer experience.

But there are still many brands who fall into the trap of thinking that customer experience is multi-channel marketing, or even a separate function outside of Marketing. They do not take a broad perspective of the customer experience, recognising that customers demand outstanding experiences through every interaction with a brand.

Jeff Bezos sums this up: “We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It's our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.” It is this focus on the entire customer experience that results in innovations such as Amazon Prime, checkout-free stores, Amazon lockers, dash buttons, Alexa, and of course engaging content as evidenced by their recent Superbowl Ad.

So how do we go about developing these strategies in practice? Here are 3 tips for marketing strategies that are fully joined up to deliver a seamless customer experience.

1. Start with the future

Connect the business with the future. Highlight how digital disruptors are transforming perceptions of customer experience. Those businesses who ignore evidence of market disruption and procrastinate will get left behind.

At Davos recently, Accenture shared data showing that 53% of US food and beverage industry growth in 2016 was captured by small companies compared to 2% captured by incumbents.

Disruption can come from many different sources - bring together cross-functional teams to develop foresight into the future environment and invent ideas for the future experience. Don’t let this be dry – it can be energising and fun. For example, you could immerse everyone in customers’ worlds, co-invent with innovation hubs or customers, partner with cutting edge start-ups or networks to explore future market dynamics.

Capture the outputs in a future experience blueprint that embodies your brand positioning

2. Strategies must fully address all levers of the customer experience

This is the critical bit! When you are developing strategies use this tool to help you think about all the different levers that could impact the customer experience you have defined. The levers in this tool are illustrative, you may decide that additional/different levers are relevant for your brand.

Customer experience levers

Take the example of Cleveland Clinic, the not-for-profit medical centre in the USA, which increased its ranking in the CMS survey of patient satisfaction from average to among the top 8% in two years.

Three of the experience levers they focussed on were people, environment and service.

People – they reframed their staff as patient-centred caregivers (patient-facing and enabling functions) – involving everyone in setting caregiver priorities and integrating expectations into annual performance reviews.

Environment - they tracked and analysed patient perceptions which enabled them to maintain a patient centred environment, such as ensuring rooms don’t become too noisy or dealing with spillages immediately.

Service - they developed a HEART responsive service model (Hear, empathise, apologise, respond and thank). For example, if a patient is annoyed about having to walk the day after surgery, explain that ambulating is critical – safety is important above all other principles.

3. Develop your strategies cross functionally

In our experience businesses will talk cross-functional working but often give it lip service in practice. If brands are brought to life through the customer experience, then all functions in the business have a role to play in delivering that experience.

PepsiCo’s growth strategy is rooted in the ‘demand spaces’ they identify across the consumer experience, where PepsiCo brands can be paired together to meet a consumer need and leverage portfolio strength. The shared focus on these demand spaces brings together cross-functional teams to invent differentiated strategies and initiatives.

PepsiCo also brings together Marketing and Sales through continuous improvement of ‘demand pockets’ – pockets of growth based on granular understanding of consumer demand in a particular channel, such as the Doritos/ Mountain Dew customised programme for 7-Eleven which achieved 3.2m Doritos’ loaded servings in the first 30 days. By focusing on the micro ‘demand pockets’ as well as the macro initiatives, Marketing demonstrates its support for Sales teams’ specific channel objectives, building trust in their ways of working.

Additionally, PepsiCo established a Design function which works across the portfolio to apply design thinking to enhance their consumer experience through breakthrough innovation, such as the Spire digital fountains and vending machines. Close collaboration between designers, food scientists and Marketing is achieved through projecting out into the future and re-imagining the consumer experience as it could be.

The role of the Marketing function is to lead these cross functional teams to make the right strategic choices which drive business growth and deliver the seamless, end to end experience that customers expect.

Discover more about our research into what it takes to deliver winning customer experiences. If you would like to discuss how your organisation could become more joined up, please do get in touch.


Forrester report: Predictions 2018 A year of reckoning
Operating models for the future of consumption. An Accenture collaboration with the world economic forum. Jan 2018
‘Join up to stand apart’ – a study led by Brand Learning; Nov 2016

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