Customer Experience

3 Ways Marketing Creates Customer Experience Leadership

Marketing’s role in customer experience leadership can be powerful, especially if it’s managed holistically.

Step back and think about what makes or breaks great experiences for yourself as a customer. For products or services you buy for more than $100 a month, pick one where you’ve switched brands, and answer this quiz:

  1. What was most instrumental to your decision to switch: deals or respect?
  2. For the brand you switched from, which organizational unit was probably the cause of your decision to switch?
  3. Was your switching decision based on a one-time effort by Marketing, or by a pattern or series of experiences you had?

When I ask those questions to my friends who aren’t in Marketing or Customer Experience roles it’s very interesting to see how quickly they answer: 1. respect, 2. legal or engineering or accounts payable or marketing or other, 3. a pattern or series. These answers tell us that business-as-usual touch-point focus is missing the mark.

  • The first answer, respect, means customers care about more than transactional deals.
  • The second answer, non-customer-facing groups in your company, means the brand promise is deeper than touch-points can manage.
  • The third answer, pattern or series, means relationship strength is earned.

Until Marketing incorporates these three principles, we’re likely leaving money on the table when it comes to achieving the full potential of great customer experiences.

1. Customer Experience is Cumulative

Marketing creates vital touch-points with every campaign, event, study, and program. These touch-points characterize your brand promise. So the experience Marketing creates is itself of great importance in two ways:

(a) Was it enjoyable for the recipient? . . . As creatives and nurturers, it’s natural to focus primarily on (a) making our marketing enjoyable. That’s also easier to manage.

(b) Did it accurately convey what customers can expect from the brand? . . . Every Marketing touch-point should establish expectations that can be met or exceeded consistently by everyone else in the company. As the basis of trust, (b) is equally or more essential.

Customer experience is cumulative: a collection of impressions, interactions, judgments and situations that add up over time. We need to assess all we do by both transactional and longitudinal value to customers. (Part two of this series will share examples and steps to craft longitudinal customer experience.) 

2. Customer Experience is Relationship-Based

Marketing offers deals that can benefit customers: discounts, packages, freebies, content, experiences, awards, and so forth.  As much as these may be integral to influencing and respecting your target market’s behaviors, what determines customer lifetime value is the strength of your brand’s relationship with each customer.

Like any positive human-to-human scenario, customers respond best when they feel like their needs are valued above your business needs. This goes beyond deals. It’s about showing you care, listening, demonstrating you understand their world and respect individual circumstances, preventing surprises and maintaining consistency. With this caring approach, Marketing programs and messages play a pivotal role in building strong relationships with customers. (Examples and how to nurture customer relationships will be included in part three of this series.) 

3. Customer Experience Leadership is Earned

Marketing engages customers in clicking through content and offers, participating in studies and events and programs, and involving them as brand evangelists.  Yet a single decision or handoff by your Legal department . . . or Manufacturing, Engineering, Accounts Receivable, Sales, Quality, Facilities – can either harm or help customer experience!

As we’ve seen from painfully public fiascos such as United Airlines evicting a passenger and Wells Fargo setting up phony accounts, an individual decision can derail years of goodwill and Marketing’s precious investment in brand reputation.

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Customers’ trust is earned by meeting and exceeding customers’ expectations consistently. Not only must Marketing continually earn customers’ trust, but so must all your execs, employees and partners. As a steward of customer intelligence, Marketing has an opportunity and obligation to make wider use of it internally. Influencing the whole company to be in-sync with customers is an absolute for customer experience leadership.  (Part four of this series will provide examples and how to earn industry leadership in customer experience performance.) 

Do your customers know they are valued and respected? Are they satisfied? See customer experience as your customers see it, and empower your Marketing organization to go beyond the norms to reap its full promise.

Note: Adapted from Lynn Hunsaker’s article originally published by Southern California ANA: How Marketing Creates Great Customer Experiences Part 1 of 4 – It’s More Than Marketing-as-Usual. Also appeared at CustomerThink.com August 12, 2019. 

Lynn Hunsaker

Chief Customer Officer at ClearAction Continuum
Lynn Hunsaker led customer experience & marketing at Applied Materials and Sonoco. She is a CXPA board member, SVAMA past-president and CustomerThink Hall of Fame author. She taught 20 courses at UC Berkeley Ext, SJSU & Mission College (Marketing Ops at UC Santa Cruz Ext currently). Lynn authored 6 benchmarking studies and 3 CXM handbooks (Amazon). She is a CXPA Recognized Experience Education Provider with CCXP students from 70 countries. Lynn is Chief Customer Officer at ClearAction Continuum and co-founder of ClearAction Value Exchange.
Lynn Hunsaker

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