The Customer Experience is Marketing

Today, an interesting article was posted on MarketingProfs.com titled, “Why Brands Should Sweat The Small Stuff Of Customer Experience.” In the article, the author, Paige O’Neill, talks about how companies need to pay greater attention to the customer experience, and what they can do to restore a customer’s faith and belief in the company, and its products and services, when the experience has been less than ideal. While Ms. O’Neill makes a number of excellent points, I believe, there are two more points which can be added.

First, if front-line personnel (e.g., call center service representatives, in-store sales representatives, etc.) were trusted and empowered by the organization’s management to make critical business and service decisions on the spot, I believe, this would go a long way to prevent certain customer experience failures from happening to begin with or, at least, minimize them from escalating into larger and or more complex issues once they have happened. How many times do we hear, “Let me get my supervisor” or “I can’t do that”? Probably too many, and that’s the point. If front-line service representatives were empowered to handle and correct the experience issue/situation in the moment, at the point of contact, the potential for a satisfactory outcome to be had by the customer should increase.

Second, Ms. O’Neill makes no mention of a comprehensive system or mechanism by which customer experience glitches, system-wide and across the path to purchase, can be caught, analyzed and corrected by the company. When I worked at a multi-million dollar, nationally recognized company, I was privy to a boatload of customer service issues on a daily basis. What astounded me in this situation was that there was nothing in place for me, or others for that matter, to record these issues in detail, so senior management could then analyze and learn from them to make improvements or alterations to processes, systems, databases, SOPs, etc. This was a shame, because not only did present and future customers suffer, but so did the company in lost revenue and loyalty.

As an add-on to the above, I wanted to mention a recent observation I have made regarding the customer experience. For some reason, I have noticed people wanting to think of the customer experience as something separate from marketing, or even part of the sales function. In my opinion, it’s not. Because the customer experience is a direct by-product of a consumer’s interaction and engagement with a company’s brand, product and or service, I believe, it should be controlled and managed by the marketing team. To silo the customer experience from marketing makes it more difficult for the company to deliver a truly seamless, frictionless and world-class experience to its customers.

In addition, I believe that if a company can go out of its way to identify and resolve a major and regularly occurring customer experience flaw, fault, defect, call it what you will, then this could potentially be turned into a true competitive advantage and strategic strength. It also goes to the point I try to make in a previous article on bulletproof marketing.

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