They say that “change is the only constant”. It’s fair to say that in the 20 years I’ve been in marketing positions, the role of the CMO has changed completely.
Focusing on pre-purchase and post-purchase engagement, and ensuring the whole business takes responsibility for customer experience, lie at the heart of Sono’s customer focus, its national brand and marketing manager claims.
Speaking at this week’s AdTech digital marketing event in Sydney, Mark Sehler said one of the organisation’s core values is that the experience for customers comes first.
“Customer experience is owned by everyone at Sonos – it’s one team, one focus,” he told attendees. “That can be expensive and hard work, but everyone in our company is completely aligned on customer experience.”
It’s this emphasis that’s also prompting the organisation to look at product innovations such as voice-controlled navigation, as it seeks to remain relevant in a rapidly changing music ecosystem.
Sehler said engagement at Sonos is addressed on two fronts: Pre-purchase, by educating customers to avoid any confusion over how its products function; and post-purchase, by supporting consumers once they’ve become customers in order to ensure brand advocacy.
He then outlined six key areas Sonos focuses on to ensure customer experience is optimised:Retail marketing, public relations, customer care, product development, admin and finance, and brand experience including above-the-line as well as email marketing.
Retail marketing is about ensuring in-store demonstrations are optimised for customers “to experience the magic”, Sehler said. To do this, all Sonos point-of-sales displays have a live version of its operating app, and Internet connectivity.
“Our methodology is to get as many people to this point and converting as we can,” Sehler said. “Then we have trained staff that own Sonos and who become advocates.”
With regards to PR, Sehler said the emphasis is on building a network of journalists “as friends with product seeding”.
“When they know your product, they write reviews that don’t engender misinformation,” he explained. He also noted the emphasis on lifestyle over technology media, as well as the need to promote Sonos’ unique selling proposition in every media exchange.
Customer care is the third element in Sonos’ customer experience approach. Sehler said one of the things the company has done is ensured Australia-based phone support that is available when customer are setting up products in their homes.
“One thing that’s really important to our NPS [Net Promoter Score] is making sure when people are buying our products and setting them up that they have someone to help them if they run into problems,” he said. “There’s no point in a 9am-5pm customer care team when consumers are setting up on a Saturday. We have reengineered our customer care to be around when the customer needs help.”
In addition, staff can use the ‘Team Viewer’ capabilities within its products to remotely solve consumer problems.The company also employs a ticketing system and KPIs focused on reducing wait times, and gives each customer the same service contact.
“These are the things that get you great brand advocacy from owners, and that’s about customer experience,” Sehler said.
Sonos’ product development ethos revolves around app and product simplicity, and Sehler said the overarching catchphrase is to “remove tech out of a tech product”.
“It’s also about a product that doesn’t come back,” he said, noting Sonos’ low fault yield rates.
Admin and finance is important to delivering the right customer experience through despatch and delivery, Sehler continued. This includes VIP and dealer orders and discounts, as well as offering warranty flexibility.
Sehler also referenced the brand experience Sonos is trying to promote, and said it’s vital marketers understand the media channels they’re using and what to expect from them.
“We are focusing on awareness and familiarity in marketing,” he said of its above-the-line efforts. Email communications, meanwhile, are split into owners (who register with an email address when they purchase products) and prospects (to its branded website).
“Whenever we send, it has to be information that is totally useful and something the customer can get can value out of – for example, software updates or promotions,” he said.
“You have to start with the customer journey and go from there. Look at where they find out and learn about you, and where they potentially will convert, then try and inject strategies for customer experience to make them feel valued and love your brand.”
Listening to customers is another vital part of the process, and Sehler said Sonos uses a combination of online surveys and customer care team feedback, to gauge customer engagement. At a global company level, it also engages with customer by email for regular insights and areas to improve.