7 ways to bridge the chasm between marketing and customer experience

We get top tips from the experts and brand leaders who’ve actively set out to combine their troops into a unified customer force

5. Find a structure that supports your mission

For Holt, a single leadership structure unifying functions including marketing, digital, call centre and customer service channels has been very useful in highlighting the contribution his team has made to Mercer and its customers.

“I’ve often seen well-intentioned colleagues acting at odds as there was distributed leadership of customer functions. You need to understand if your structure supports the mission,” he says.

“But overall, I encourage any organisation to redouble efforts to cement true purpose in every function regardless of where they report. You have to know how the work you do as a day job links back to the way customers experience that organisation.”

KPMG Customer, Brand and Marketing Advisory practice partner, Mark Hassell, is less committed to a consolidated ownership structure, arguing a clear customer vision of where you are going that’s compelling internally and externally is your best bet for unified customer teamwork.

“This provides a North Star and air cover for the whole organisation. And by definition, marketing and customer teams are dancing to the same tune, recognising specifically what personal and team-based contributions they are all making to the greater good,” he says.

“It calls out siloed-based activity, or initiative-based activities that organisations pursue which are not joined up.”

As a former marketing leader and now chief customer officer, Anderson’s biggest learning is you have to think holistically about a brand, top to tail, end-to-end. And that means considering the impact of your actions on others.

“As marketers, we can be selfish. It’s easy to want to do your marketing campaign as your love it, and it’s easy not to consult or worry about how it might affect level of phone calls that week, or whatever that might be,” she says.  

“It’s having the customer win – you’re now not making a marketing decision that will impact how quickly people get in touch with you, as you have thrown call volumes out the window. I definitely think more holistically. And I think it’s made me a better marketer. It’s made our team much more respectful of the whole business dealing with a marketing campaign once it goes out.”  

6. Find a way to foster vulnerability and trust

According to Bliss, more than 50 per cent of the work to building a customer-led business is change management, culture and leadership. All of that requires a foundation of trust. As an example, she notes work recently done with a big billing company that was at risk of collapsing due to an inherent lack of trust between teams.

“In this situation, we had marketing and operations, who hadn’t worked together before and there was a lack of trust. What was also hindering the situation was a style of leadership that challenged everyone. So there was a fear across the organisation of saying the wrong thing and being careful,” Bliss explains.

“In these situations, we do a lot of work around understanding how people feel and how they collaborate, along with the nature of the organisation. Because those are the foundation things you need.

“Yes, you’re trying to improve customer experience, but it’s completely impacted by the underbelly of the organisation and culture of an organisation to work together and trust each other. These have to be addressed with leadership, as it’s about collaboration, opening each other’s kimonos and working together versus separately. That’s a vulnerability people aren’t necessarily used to.”

7. Find the key to out-thinking the competition

Once you bring people together, it’s about finding ways to out-think your competitors, Hassell says.

“Getting to the right outcomes for customers requires different skillsets, capability, and diversity of thinking,” he says. “If you are going to develop a customer proposition better than what’s out there, you need out-there thinkers to create territory you can capitalise on.”

All this makes culture and unlocking the potential of your people to go beyond your number one priority for achieving great CX, Hassell says.

“People have finally clued in that better commercial performance and customer outcomes are driven by a culture orchestrated around customer and a customer-centric agenda, plus the engagement and enablement of your people. If you engage people that won’t strive for you, your ability to pull off the customer side is difficult,” he says.  

“So you have to have a culture that is all-embracing rather than vanilla. You need an open culture, rich with creative thinking, but one you can also coalesce, agree and plan together what you’re going to do.”

“We know brilliant CX is delivered and recognised by organisations that don’t say we have a digital solution and the job is done, but delivered through a truly integrated, harmonised and appropriate digital footprint with brilliant human-delivered service. The day of the person is back. And the culture piece sits right in the centre of it.”    

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