Somewhere, someone is dreaming about being a marketer who drives millions of people toward their brand. As a chief marketing officer, I’d like to say I was that someone, but I wasn’t. In fact, I took only one marketing class during college—and I thought it was a waste of time.
I wanted to preface this article with that bit of information not because I hate marketing. (I love my job, and I love marketing.) I just want to emphasize that—like customer experience (CX)—marketing is constantly evolving. What worked 20 years ago simply would not fly today.
Back when I was in my marketing class (and still today, no doubt), marketers were taught The Four Ps of Marketing: Price, Product, Promotion, and Place. While the four Ps certainly have their merits, they are also one of the main reasons marketing is killing the customer experience.
The majority of marketers receive compensation and bonuses for creating brand awareness and pushing people to buy whatever product or service their organization is selling. Unfortunately, this system promotes brand selfishness and creates a disconnect between customer experience and brand expectations.
In a recent article by Sean Hargrave from MediaPost, he argues that customer experience and brand value are the same thing. Based on my experience and the evolution of marketing and the customer experience I’ve witnessed in my career, I would agree.
The article cites research from brand valuation specialists Markables, who report that the contribution of brand value in a company’s overall valuation has decreased by half from 2005 to 2014, while the value of customer relations has doubled.
Customer experience expectations are increasing by the day. This is a good thing. Instead of brands differentiating themselves through product offerings, brand image is now a mirror image of how your organization treats people. Your brand’s value comes not from what you say you’re going to do but what you actually deliver. With social media platforms and people spending hours upon hours on the Internet each day, customer perception of your brand is everything. Customers will be loyal to brands that value them as people not numbers.
5 Ways to Align Customer & Brand Expectations
Start with a Vision
A mission statement is all well and good, but to be an effective CX vision, it needs to be clear. For marketing, this means listening to employees and customers and closing the experiential gaps that exist between them.
It’s common for different specialties to have different words for what turn out to be the same thing. For example, marketing approaches campaigns in terms of personas. In CX, they approach things in terms of customer segments. They’re the same. By interweaving methodologies, we can eliminate confusion, communicate, and ultimately create a better experience.
Similar to interweaving methodologies, we need to get rid of silos and create solutions that we’re aligned on within our organizations. Increasingly, I’m seeing the CX function move under the marketing umbrella. In this new leadership role, marketers need to get outside of themselves and take ownership beyond the close of the deal. We need to understand how the brand promise is delivered on the front lines.
Connect Brand and CX Metrics
Brand perception and NPS (Net Promoter Score) are not all that different. Look for opportunities to measure CX in terms of brand promise. Is your brand’s customer feedback aligned with the experience your organization has committed to delivering? If not, why not?
Become a Storyteller
For this point, I’ll quote Joana van den Brink-Quintanilha, senior analyst at Forrester Research, who said, “The power of storytelling is undeniable. A quota-busting salesperson knows how to tell a story in which the product is the hero. An effective CEO uses an emotional narrative about the company’s mission to attract investors and inspire employees. And a great CX pro can weave a story that helps employees understand their role in a customer journey.”
As brands, we have to take an honest look at who we want to be. Are we going to go the route of traditional marketers and place more value on sales over experience, or are we going to ground our business firmly in CX and integrate this longer-term perspective throughout every level of our company?