There appears to be no slack in the effort by organizations to create and distribute content designed to create meaningful interactions with prospects and customers across the customer buying decision process. However, despite the intent to create a dialogue, most of this work still utilizes a “push” approach that still feels like a monologue.
Being able to adapt to how customers behave requires Marketing to move from being a Marketing content engine to a customer engagement engine. This is a bold move and a big departure from how most Marketing organizations are structured. This article suggests how to restructure and measure the Marketing organization to adapt to the new era of customer engagement.
Based on several recent working sessions with Marketing and Sales people in a variety of companies, I can tell you that the concept of customer engagement is alive and well. There appears to be no slack in the effort by organizations to create and distribute content designed to create meaningful interactions with prospects and customers across the customer buying decision process.
However, despite the intent to create a dialogue, most of this work still utilizes a “push” approach that still feels like a monologue. With technology, marketers can push content smarter and faster, multiply touch points, and create more integrated campaigns. But it’s still primarily a push.
We’re now well into the Age of the Customer, where “empowered customers are shaping business strategy.” Being able to adapt to how customers behave requires Marketing to move from being a Marketing content and lead gen engine to a customer engagement engine. This is a bold move and a big departure from how most Marketing organizations are structured.
How to Get Started and Organized
The traditional Marketing structure focuses more on functions, digital marketing, event marketing, content marketing, etc., which emphasizes the work product. When an organization transitions to be more customer focused, these functions still exist, but ideally the primary roles within Marketing would be organized around customer engagement phases, such as pre-contact, contact, conversation, consideration and so on. This shift requires a marketer to own the entire customer relationship (all processes, system, touch points and channels) associated with a particular phase of interaction. It calls for marketers to expand beyond being specialists.
Intrigued – but not sure where to start? Use a customer experience map as your guide. Armed with your map, you can organize Marketing around the customer buying process. Consider these six steps to begin.
- Confirm that your customer experience map is comprehensive. A good customer experience map captures every stage of the journey. At a minimum, your map should string together the processes associated with each of these phases:
- Early stage as the prospective new customer makes contact
- Moves from contact to consideration to purchase
- Purchasing and implementation/deployment experience
- Post-purchase experience, such as support, billing, and problem resolution
- Loyalty, including repeat purchases, advisor for innovation, advocate and staunch recommender
- Determine the processes associated with each phase. Ideally your map captures the process from the customer’s perspective with the company’s internal processes designed to support each phase.
- Select phase owners. There needs to be someone who clearly owns the processes, systems, touch points and channels for each phase.
- Define what customer success means for each phase.
- Create focal points for common resources. All phase owners are going to need analytics and assets to support the engagement efforts associated with their assigned phase.
- Build for operational excellence. If you think of phase owners as individual instruments in the orchestra, it will be vital to have an exceptional conductor. With some fine-tuning, your Marketing Operations function can serve in this role.
Once you complete these six steps, you’ll have a potential structural framework for Marketing. It might look something like this:
How to Measure Success in this New Organizational Concept
Now that you have a framework, you will need an overall plan, engagement strategy, and a set of common customer-centric metrics to tie everything together. To focus on customer engagement, we recommend that all of the Marketing metrics relate to customer equity. Customer equity captures the total of lifetime values of all your current and future customers.
Customer equity in any year = ((number of new customers X average revenue of new customers) – (Acquisition costs)) + ((number of old customers X average revenue of old customers) – (Servicing costs)) – (number of customers churned X average revenue of churned customers).
If you buy in to the philosophy that it is customers that create all value, and it is Marketing’s job to find, keep and grow the value of customers, then customer equity is an excellent overall metric for Marketing.
Establish customer-specific outcomes for each customer phase owner, with customer equity being the overall measure of success. More than likely you will need a new dashboard that reflects outcome, outputs and activities metrics that relate to customer equity. To create the right metrics chain™, (sequence of related measures and metrics that link the work and investments of Marketing with outcomes and business results) start with outcome metrics.
See the following table for some examples.
Then, define operational and output metrics linked to the outcomes, such as:
Behind-the-Scenes Changes for Better Customer Engagement
If you’re serious about customer engagement, odds are you are going to have to change how you organize, manage and measure Marketing. For most companies, this will be a fairly significant transformation involving four main changes.
First, making such a structure work entails:
- Understanding exactly how prospects and customers interact with your company, your products, service personnel, etc.
- Knowing the desired experience for each interaction
- Maintaining skills and infrastructure (systems, tools, processes) to deliver and manage the experience
- Cultivating superb collaboration and coordination across functions
Second, this type of structure places a premium on being able to quickly capture and analyze customer behavior, process the insights, and make and act on decisions. These skills have implications on the talent you hire. Very likely they will also have implications on your reporting structure and performance measurement and management.
Third, because in this approach Marketing plays a significant role in designing, building and operating touch points across the organization, it very likely will create a complex web of solid- and dotted-line relationships. More robust internal and external partnerships will be essential.
Fourth, exceptional change management processes will be vital.
This is something that must be tackled to survive and thrive in our highly competitive world. But don’t tackle this alone if you don’t have all of these skills on staff or sufficient time for implementation. Partner with someone with Marketing, change management and Marketing Ops expertise who will transfer these skills to your team as part of the project.