Less than one in five of all businesses are truly ‘high performance’ marketers, according to a study conducted by Salesforce. These top performers improve the customer experience by creating a seamless journey across all channels. They also focus on personalised communication rather than ‘one size fits all’ mass marketing.
Though few companies have got there just yet, every forward looking business understands the importance of cultivating customers in a world where your competitors are only a click or two away. Here are six key characteristics of high performance marketing organisations. If you recognise all of these from your business then congratulations are due: you are already part of the marketing elite.
1) You have a Chief Customer Officer or Chief Experience Officer
The Chief Customer Officer and Chief Experience Officer are fast becoming part of the corporate fabric. In 2014 seventy-seven per cent of brands answering a Gartner survey said they had a Chief Customer Officer or equivalent, and the numbers continue to rise. These senior executives have a remit to help organisations become more customer centric by integrating channels and improving the customer experience across an increasingly complex range of customer interactions. In a multi-channel world, managing the customer experience is a major challenge – and at the same time a powerful way of creating a competitive advantage. You need someone who sits on the executive management team to ensure resources and strategy are focused around understanding and improving the customer journey across all touchpoints.
2) Your sales managers are organised around customer groups rather than products or brands
Your sales people are more likely to be incentivised to maximise value from specific customers and customer segments rather than just push specific products. If they’re organised in this way they’ll be more likely to look at the bigger picture and nurture sales opportunities involving whichever of the company’s products are the best fit for the customer.
3) The balance of your marketing budget has shifted from mass marketing methods to personalised marketing
Your organisation is likely to be adept at interactive two-way communications – using a variety of digital channels – adapted to customer behaviour, and working with analytics and automation tools such as customer communications management technology. You’re probably making use of personalised correspondence – letters, emails and SMS messages – which are triggered by events or customer actions, for example. You may also be getting the customer’s attention by using transpromo to add personal messages to ‘white space’ on transactional documents such as bills.
4) Your organisation pays close attention to customer lifetime value metrics
Sales, profitability and market share are all important business performance metrics, but if you’re working within a high performance marketing organisation that is committed to cultivating long term relationships with customers, you will also evaluate success based on a measure of Customer Lifetime Value.
5) You’ve moved your call centres back from offshore
Offshoring call centres and customer service to countries with cheaper labour was once a popular cost cutting measure, but it can be detrimental to the customer experience. Basing telephone support in the same country as customers makes it easier to establish empathy with customers and generally results in easier communications. Tellingly, consumer organisation ‘Which?’ reported last year that not being able to ring a call centre based in the UK was the biggest customer service gripe of British consumers, with nearly half of those it questioned saying they were irritated by have to speak to agents in other countries.
6) You’re working towards creating a holistic ‘customer view’
If you work for a high performance marketing organisation you’re probably already able to interact with customers through the channels and touchpoints they most want to use, whether that includes email, text, social media, the web or messaging apps. In addition, you will be bringing all of the information about those interactions together, in the form of a single customer view. Whichever channel a customer chooses to communicate with you, there’s an up-to-date record about their relationship with your company, including previous interactions they’ve had with you – no matter which channels they used.This would mean, for example, that a customer can request technical support via online chat on your website and follow this up with a phone call or email without having the hassle of explaining the problem again.
All of these characteristics indicate that a business is looking at the totality of the customer journey and exploring every avenue to create a better experience for the customer. The logic is simple: happier customers are more loyal, and loyal customers are more profitable. And as traditional barriers to competition – location, startup costs, customer reach – continue to be eroded by technology, customer experience will soon become the main source of competitive differentiation in many industry sectors. Today’s high performance marketers are setting the standard that we will all have to follow.
About Lynda Kershaw
Lynda Kershaw is marketing manager at software and services company Macro 4, a division of UNICOM Global. A marketer with over twenty years' experience, Lynda helps organisations use technology to personalise customer interaction, improve customer experience and make a painless transition to digital communications. www.macro4.com