The days of building your brand solely through carefully-crafted marketing campaigns are long gone, and in this brave new world, every Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) needs to move cultivating a stellar customer experience to the very top the to-do list.
What that means is that every channel, every touch point and every interaction must work in tandem so that ultimately you communicate one essential message: Our customers are what matters most.
Of course, the entire c-suite plays a role in this synchronicity, but as CMO, it’s your job to take the lead in defining your customer journey. You’re responsible for elevating the brand by strengthening relationship (both internal and external) fostering loyalty and encouraging advocacy. And in order to do all that, you need to fully recognize that consumers – and their expectations – have changed . . . dramatically. For example, today’s consumers are:
- Empowered. The rise of digital communication and social media as marketing and customer service channels means that consumers have more ways to talk to you . . . but it also means they have more ways to talk about you, too. Word-of-mouth, for better or for worse, used to happen over fences and by the water cooler. Now consumers can share their unvarnished opinions with millions of others with the click of a mouse or the touch of a screen. And again, for better or worse, they’re not holding back.
- Fickle. Your competitors have as many ways to reach out to your customers as you do, and if you fail to value and nurture your customer relationships, your competitors’ experience could trump yours in a heartbeat. That said, social media offers tremendous opportunities to observe how your competitors engage with the market – and you can be there with tailored offers, insights and assistance to pick up wherever and whenever they fall short If your competitors’ customers are looking to jump ship, give them somewhere attractive to land, precisely when they’re ready to make the leap.
- Expecting relationships, not campaigns. Traditional marketing campaigns push out a singular message, while a great customer experience does so much more. In fact, leading marketers are gaining competitive advantage by leveraging data to build relationships and participate in the natural buying cycles that customers create. I fully expect that in the future, mutually-rewarding customer relationships will vastly outperform campaigns – which is why we’re already seeing more and more marketing organizations shift away from one-way, mass-market campaigns to personalized, continuous engagement.
- International . . . and local. “Think global. Act local.” That adage was developed outside of the marketing world, but we’ve all heard it – and now CMOs need to embrace it. Being international and local means not only speaking to your customers in their own language, but also connecting with them in ways they find culturally relevant and compelling, and being present in their communities. One size – or message, or product, or channel – will not fit all.
- Ready to be known. Companies that keep customer information in silos, by business line, department, channel, region and so on, will only frustrate customers who are seeking a cohesive experience. Priority Number One: Treat all customer data with care; customers will not tolerate misuse of their information. But once they’ve opted in, and you follow best practices for data privacy, leverage the data you gather as deliberately as possible. Use it to create responsive, personalized interactions and a truly meaningful customer experience.
I believe that CMOs who take on the customer experience as a strategic priority will see their marketing performance improve over peers who continue to focus solely on pushing out pitches. Today’s customers expect to be engaged in fresh, relevant ways. If they feel as though your brand respects (and meets!) their needs, they’ll be far more likely to pursue long-term relationships with you . . . and then they’ll pass on their glowing recommendations to friends, family and social networks – all of whom are just as eager for great customer experiences.