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Marketing Wins Strategic Clout by Driving Customer Experience Management 

Lynn Hunsaker | Dec 28, 2009 513 views 10 Comments

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Traditionally, Marketing takes the organization’s message to the customer base, but now equally important is Marketing’s potential to take the customer base’s message back to the organization.



Marketing sets up the value proposition that the brand represents, but ultimately customers define what brand truly means to them. The way we actually deliver the value proposition is more relevant than what we tell customers.

This theme emerged in my recent online interview with David Cliche, Vice President of Global Interactive Marketing at Aon, a leading provider of risk management and workforce productivity solutions. Dave’s role includes leadership of interactive marketing, customer experience management strategies, sales operations, corporate communications, marketing research and analysis, and knowledge management.

“Delivery on brand expectations is most important and customers will tell us how well we do that. There’s so much to learn from the Sales and Customer Service interactions with customers”, explained Dave. “Take all those lessons learned for improvement, and drive them into creation of Marketing programs and value propositions. Then take the customer experience full-circle back into the organization as part of the strategic discussion for the whole organization to accurately understand customer needs, and to impact strategy and structure, to better manage delivery of the value proposition.”

Dave suggested that Marketing should own the message flow both ways. Take the customer’s message to parts of the organization that may otherwise not hear it. Customers are generally treating company messaging like noise. They think:
*At end of day, did you actually do what you said you would do?
*If I told you something did you listen?
*And most importantly, did you let me know that you did something differently because of my inputs?

There is a world of opportunity to create new relationships with customers that are potentially much more valuable. Where most organizations seem to experience the greatest challenge is making sure appropriate field data and customer feedback are understood and used across the company. Marketing can enhance the organization’s ability to incorporate customer feedback into new product offerings, organizational structure, revenue models, strategic resourcing of talent, operations, and more. We are probably squandering numerous lost opportunities to do what customers tell us they want. How can we ignore this guidance from the customer?

Customer-centricity is not just a buzz word, it’s a structural challenge to assign accountability
into an executive policy committee, smooth hand-offs between functional areas, and commit to using customer feedback data. Marketing should own and facilitate customer experience management by leveraging all of the functional pieces to deliver the value proposition to stakeholders efficiently and cleanly. Marketing can help everyone understand how what they’re doing plays a role in how the customer receives the brand. Give equal importance to satisfaction and advocacy metrics as to financial metrics. Compare revenue, share, profit, forecast, satisfaction, and retention data to gain a fuller picture of reality and to perk up the whole organization to maximizing the potential value available.

Historically, various functions have managed CRM and related initiatives, but Marketing is the natural fit for managing customer experience, as an essential strategy to brand management and business growth. Marketing executives can elevate their role in the company by owning customer experience management.

Listen to the interview: Marketing Wins Strategic Clout by Driving Customer Experience Management (recorded internet talk radio discussion, 28:34)

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10 Responses to Marketing Wins Strategic Clout by Driving Customer Experience Management

  1. Wim Rampen December 29, 2009 at 1:46 am (76 comments) #

    Hi Lynn,

    Love the post, but to some extent I have the feeling it is also contradictory. I fully agree with you that the way we deliver the value proposition is more relevant than what we tell our Customers. I’m furthermore totally with you when you put feedback management and closing the loop at the center of Customer experience management.

    When it comes to ownership I think it highly depends on the capabilities of marketing whether they could own Customer experience management. Many marketing departments are actually just sales departments that perform combinations of direct and not so direct campaigns in order to move prospects through their “thought-to-exist”-sales-funnel. I think it’s not likely these departments will do a great job when “owning” CEM.

    More importantly I think it’s the C-suite’s responsibility to provide context, direction and continuous insights in the Customer’s perception of the experience. It is also the C-suite’s responsibility to monitor and drive business based on a balanced view on performance metrics.

    Because delivery of the proposition, in the end, is what matters to Customers, everyone involved (basically the entire company) is in essence a marketer, or a service employee if you will. And if all are marketers it is of utmost importance to foster collaboration internally and externally to deliver the value proposition, the way Customers want/need to experience it.

    It may well be that times for silo’d ownership models are over. It is time to truly design business the way we know delivery of value propositions stands the best chance: through cross-functional collaboration. Maybe it is time for a Social Business Design!

  2. Lynn Hunsaker December 29, 2009 at 8:16 am (96 comments) #

    Hi Wim,

    Thanks for the thoughtful comments. I agree with you. Hopefully CMOs who have the propensity to facilitate CEM will rise to the occasion. So often I see the Marketing organization (and the C-Suite!) content to relegate customer experience management to the call center or sales or quality or IT organization, while Marketing stays largely un-involved in CEM. Cross-organizational ownership is essential for true customer-centricity, and for high-impact CEM.

    Hopefully readers of my post (and listeners of the talk radio show) will be inspired to take a broader view of brand management and the importance of managing operational delivery of the value proposition. This in itself would be a huge step for many companies.

    By the way, my ehandbook Customer Experience Improvement Momentum suggests methods to engage the whole company in improving customer experience.

    Lynn Hunsaker helps companies improve customer data ROI, customer-centricity and customer experience innovation. She is author of 3 handbooks. See ClearAction.biz, Twitter.com/ClearAction, Facebook.dj/customerexperience.

  3. Graham Hill December 29, 2009 at 8:42 am (992 comments) #

    Lynn,

    A complex post with many intertwined messages.

    I agree with Wim 100% that the CEx is probably too important today for a relatively lowly department like Marketing to own; The Marketing department is often not influential enough, doesn’t own the all important consumption touchpoints in the experience, isn’t interested in customers and let’s face it, has been doing a rotten job of managing the CEx so far.

    Delivering a real experiential brand that delivers 100% of the time is not the same as simply ‘branding’ the customer experience. Doing so requires that the whole organisation is involved in the experiencescape. It is way too important to leave to the Marketing Department.

    Graham Hill
    Customer-centric Innovator
    Follow me on Twitter

    Interested in Customer Driven Innovation? Join the Customer Driven Innovation groups on LinkedIn or Facebook to learn more.

  4. Monique Jansen December 29, 2009 at 10:12 am (1 comment) #

    Dear Lynn,

    I find this a really interesting discussions because I have also wondered what the best “place” for operational CRM/CEM would be. I have put a blogpost on this topic in November, please see http://www.customerthink.com/blog/operational_crm_the_crm_manager.

    The reason why I find this so difficult to define or decide (and I am happy to learn I am not the only one wondering…) is, like I mention in my blog-post, from experience I know that when a company has made the bold decision to give CRM/CEM the attention it needs, a power-fight starts between marketing, sales and the CRM responsible about who does what exactly, and who is accountable.

    I would say that if a Marketing department is not powerful enough within the strategic board, than forget about giving it the CEM tasks. But still, it is important that CRM/CRM is near marketing, otherwise the customer will still not receive consistent messages accross channels and since Marketing normally sits on the research budget, if you want to measure CEM you need to stay close to the CMO!

    Best regards,

    Monique

  5. Lynn Hunsaker December 29, 2009 at 3:07 pm (96 comments) #

    Hi Graham,

    Thanks for your comments. I’m intrigued with the statement that Marketing isn’t interested in customers. I’ve also noticed that many Marketers have a narrowly defined self-serving definition of customer experience management. I suppose *some* CMOs may be strategic enough to grasp the opportunities they have as part of brand management, in helping CEM become more broadly defined and embraced throughout their company. It would be interesting to find out what functional areas are most represented in the readership of CustomerThink, if Marketers aren’t customer-focused.

    In fact, perhaps the majority of companies have a narrowly defined definition of customer experience management, and they generally have yet to engage most of the functional areas in co-ownership.

    I hope this post — and the discussions — opens some new perspectives to Marketers (and CXOs) who may have been sitting on the sidelines of customer experience management. The content of the post reflects the discussion that occurred on my Customer Experience Optimization BlogTalkRadio show.

    Best regards,
    Lynn

    Lynn Hunsaker helps companies improve customer data ROI, customer-centricity and customer experience innovation. She is author of 3 handbooks. See ClearAction.biz, Twitter.com/ClearAction, Facebook.dj/customerexperience.

  6. Lynn Hunsaker December 29, 2009 at 3:46 pm (96 comments) #

    Hi Monique,

    You’re right that Marketing departments that aren’t powerful enough within the strategic board will be unsuccessful in driving customer experience management.

    In any case, Marketing’s detachment from CEM actually causes a lot of customer experience pain. Too often customers are given offers that are primarily self-serving to the company, participate on advisory boards for next-generation product offerings, and asked to provide customer satisfaction feedback that is designed for public relations purposes.

    What I wonder is, who IS running these programs that seem to be at odds with the best interests of both the company and the customers in the long-term? If it’s Marketing, then let’s get the CMO’s attention to manage the brand more strategically. If it’s some other CXO, then let’s help them broaden their definitions and involvement.

    As the discussion has pointed out, Customer Experience Management is way too important to be viewed narrowly or managed at any level but the highest. And I agree with your blog post, saying that if CEM (and CRM) is managed correctly, it can be the primary source of successful business performance.

    Best regards,
    Lynn

    Lynn Hunsaker helps companies improve customer data ROI, customer-centricity and customer experience innovation. She is author of 3 handbooks. See ClearAction.biz, Twitter.com/ClearAction, Facebook.dj/customerexperience.

  7. Ray Brown December 29, 2009 at 6:22 pm (23 comments) #

    Some great comments. I’d make two points:
    1. Are we not in danger of “doing a CRM” here i.e. deciding that a long existing term now has a new/different meaning. We tried to change CRM from software only to a broader concept of software plus systems and processes and we have confused the market. Marketing is a clear function that is rooted in the “telling” space. If we now say no, marketing is the “listening function” of business then we risk further mixed messages and confusion.
    2. On the topic of how you drive the customer agenda I think Jeanne Bliss makes an excellent point in her book Chief Customer Officer when she describes 6 different power centres in business. She describes these as “the dominant factor in decision making” These are: The product, Marketing,Sales, a vertical business (or industry competence e.g. banking),IT or the customer. The role of marketing (and the customer)therefore can depend on where power sits in a business.

  8. Lynn Hunsaker December 30, 2009 at 12:15 am (96 comments) #

    Hi Ray,

    Thanks for your comments. You’re right, along with Jeanne Bliss, that roles are dependent upon where power sits in a company.

    I’ve been teaching a graduate Marketing course at University of California Berkeley Ext for the past 5 years, and my preferred textbook author is Kotler (with co-authors Armstrong and Kelly). In his textbook, chapter one is “Marketing: Managing Profitable Customer Relationships”, followed by “Company & Marketing Strategy: Partnering to Build Customer Relationships” (ch 2). One of the final chapters is “Communicating Customer Value”. As such, it appears that the newer generation of Marketers is being taught to build long-term customer equity. Hopefully, this generation is finding inroads within companies to apply what they’re taught.

    I agree that many companies severely limit the role of Marketing. Even when I took Marketing courses a couple decades ago, I picked up on the broader strategic potential of the discipline. Savvy Marketers may indeed be able to educate fellow CXOs on this and boost their impact within the company; I’ve personally known some CMOs who did this successfully.

    Perhaps Marketing isn’t the *ideal* place for CEM ownership, yet Marketers really need to embrace and support customer experience management from wherever it may be managed within the company, for all the reasons that are given in my blog post. By doing so, they’ll likely earn some strategic clout that they’re currently leaving on the table.

    Best regards,
    Lynn

    Lynn Hunsaker helps companies improve customer data ROI, customer-centricity and customer experience innovation. She is author of 3 handbooks. See ClearAction.biz, Twitter.com/ClearAction, Facebook.dj/customerexperience.

  9. lucie7usa December 30, 2009 at 1:13 am (374 comments) #

    Hi Lynn,

    Thanks for another thought-provoking post and an equally thought-provoking follow-up thread (which validates complement #1 here). Keeping customers front and center in staff minds, if only through controversy, can be surprisingly challenging, especially in constrained conditions as currently prevail, in which everyone is thoroughly stretched.

    Not to evade the content discussions here, but what impresses me most is how well you’ve headlined structural CRM/Customer-centric issues, etc. and thus returned what truly should be our #1 focus out of the haystack and back on the radar (excuse the mixed metaphors!). Maybe now I won’t have to have yet another “we’ll get to know our customers after we’ve developed our products” conversation (seriously! happened just last month!) for awhile.

    Thanks again,
    – Lucie

  10. Lynn Hunsaker December 31, 2009 at 11:58 am (96 comments) #

    Hi Lucie,

    Thanks for your comment. As you say, it’s mind-blowing that Marketers as well as much of the rest of the company often struggle with keeping the customer as #1 focus. My paycheck stubs for 11 years at Applied Materials always contained this reminder: “Your payroll dollars are made possible by satisfied customers!”

    For a paradigm shift, see my post “From Campaign Treadmill to Truly Superior Customer Experience”. I’d be happy to help any Marketers get up to speed and reap higher growth rates from this shift.

    Good posts on this topic that I’ve seen from others lately include:
    *Chief Reputation Officer: Whose Job Is It, Anyway? Forbes http://j.mp/6opOp2
    *What Does Customer Experience Mean to You? Linda Ireland http://j.mp/5CYX3z
    *Marketing is the problem! Only 22% of CMOs think listening to customers is 1 of their top 5 tasks, Forrester http://tinyurl.com/yll5wtt

    Lynn Hunsaker helps companies improve customer data ROI, customer-centricity and customer experience innovation. She is author of 3 handbooks. See ClearAction.biz, Twitter.com/ClearAction, Facebook.dj/customerexperience.

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