B2B Marketing blog

The new marketer: marketing takes the lead in customer experience

According to a report recently published by The Economist The rise of the marketer: Driving engagement, experience and revenue CMO’s have discovered a global shift with regard to who is in the lead in customer experience. What is causing this shift? And is this shift also taking place in the Netherlands?

‘In five years 75% of the marketers will be responsible for the total customer experience’

Marketers in this international research note that almost everybody in a company has touch points with the customer at some point in his/her journey. This ranges from the financial department to customer support. They have also noticed a shift in responsibilities: over 33% of the respondents indicated that they have responsibility for the total customer experience within their organisation. Marketers believe that 75% of the marketers will be responsible for the total customer experience over time. It is remarkable that they expect to gain more responsibility, whereas customer support and sales will be losing this.

Jamie Moldafsky, CMO at Wells Fargo:

“There is more need for the articulation of an integrated holistic approach than before, because there are a myriad of channels and contact points.”

Holistic or not, who is in the lead?

Many agree on the holistic approach, yet few agree on where the responsibilities should lie. Customer centricity-expert Steven van Belleghem points out how important it is that management supports customer centricity and that it is not necessarily a role that marketing has to take on:

“Everybody, from HR to Customer Service to Billing to, has to do with it. Of course, someone has to take the lead and often this is marketing. Sometimes it is Customer Service and sometimes it is the Management Board. If the Board backs customer centricity by 300%, there is a great chance it will succeed.” (From the Dutch survey Customer Centricity – the top 5 investments)

Friesland Campina is an example of a company where customer centricity is led by the board. As Fridjov Broersen, Director Retail Europe Cheese, puts it: “It is a culture shift and that generally starts at the top. Admittedly there is an essential role for marketing, but the other departments count as well, from the factory floor up to and including customer service and finance. The customer’s wishes must be the starting point for the whole organisation including the board. They too play an important role in spreading the word: the customer’s experiences and the customer focus.”

Managing customer experience is key in reaching engagement

One of the explanations for the shift to marketing could be that to reach the customer, marketers need more of an overview on what is happening cross-channel, cross-product and cross-business.

Another reason that marketing shows this involvement in customer experience, is that only when all customer touch points are in perspective, can we really follow the road to engaging with the customer. Up to a few years back it was all about content marketing, now it is becoming more apparent that content is a tool to reach engagement and not the goal itself.

Engagement is becoming increasingly important once the prospect has become a customer. In a survey by The Economist, marketers responded that engagement happens during contract renewals, customer retention and repeat purchases.

In brief, it seems that marketing can take the stage where customer experience is concerned at several stages.

Customer experience counts

Years ago Forrester Research proved the importance of customer experience with the Customer Experience Index (CXi), a benchmark that offers insight into which companies score well on both customer experience and on long term revenue.

The survey shows how customers compare companies, on three scales. This results in three dimensions:

  • How enjoyable were they to do business with?
  • How easy were they to do business with?
  • How effective were they in meeting your needs?

source: Forrester Research

Jon Picoult, a consultant at Watermark Consulting, keeps up with Forrester and compares two groups annually: the ‘customer experience leaders’ and the ‘customer experience laggards’. It is great to discover that on the stock market the ‘customer experience leaders’ have left the ‘laggards’ trailing behind during a period of seven years (2007-2013).

“Leaders outperformed the broader market, generating a total return that was 26 points higher than the S&P 500 market index. Laggards trailed far behind, actually posting a negative return during a period when the broader market rose sharply.” Read the full report here.

“Marketing’s task is to tear down walls”

Customer experience – the complete package of experiences a customer has during his relationship with his supplier – is becoming more and more important in standing out in the market. By creating a personal, memorable experience, companies can retain customers and turn loyal customers into advocates.

One of the respondents, Manon van Poelwijk, marketer at Nuon Business, spoke during a recently published Dutch survey on customer centricity about marketing’s role: ‘When you consider customer centricity and customer experience you realise that everybody is really trying hard but only working from their own perspective. That brings your customer journey into view, and marketing’s task is to find common ground and work from there.’

The first step is taking responsibility for the customer journey

Marketing was an early advocate of the importance of customer experiences. Now we seem to be taking the lead in this as well, at least if we are to believe The Economist. How the ball game will be played is yet unclear, but shall become apparent in the coming years. I have understood that B2B companies are undergoing a definite transition from focusing on lead generation to focusing on engagement. To really engage with your target group, you need to take hold of the customer journey and the customer experiences that go along with it. Isn’t that a great assignment for marketing?

Who will be in the lead, shall yet be determined, but that should not keep marketing from making the first step and waking up the executive board. Interested in mapping the customer journey? Let me know, I’d love to share our insights with you.

Note from the author: In part 1 of this series I wrote about ‘The new marketer: marketing no longer a cost carrier’.

Ingrid Archer

Ingrid Archer is a marketing and communications professional ‘pur sang’ with more than 20 years of experience in B2B marketing and communication. She is co-founder of spotONvision and the B2B Marketing Forum. She initiated successful campaigns in various sectors and is one of the experts in the field of content marketing, buyer personas and lead nurturing in B2B.