Why marketers need to lead on customer experience

Russell Parsons

I recently had to book a hire car for a family holiday. My first move was to use Google, which suggested several brands, but I was attracted to one because of its snazzy website that promised everything that any occasional user would need. Things began to go awry when I couldn’t choose the pickup and drop-off points I needed, despite the pre-booking promise that I would be able to. A call followed where an operative delivered even more contradictory information. To complete my frustration, a friendly chap told me when picking up the car that what I had wanted in the first place should have been possible.

This is the very antithesis of a good customer experience. At no point (until the end) was the brand promise delivered, rendering the work of the brand and SEO completely redundant.

The number of channels where a customer interacts with a brand is growing and with it the need for a seamless, consistent and exemplary experience. All of this is easier said than done, of course. Marketers know the importance of creating a customer experience but few would say that they have the silver bullet. Best practice is therefore a valuable commodity.

Plenty of that can be found in KPMG Nunwood’s top 100 brands for customer experience and the secrets of their success. There are familiar faces that are often at the top of lists of recommended brands and less well-known ones. All share similar traits – they empower customers by offering specialist information and they understand, or at least try to understand, the individual needs of their customers where or however they choose to interact. The top 100 can be found here.

I would also wager that customer experience is central to their marketing plans: focusing spend on retention, investing in analytics to understand the customer’s journey and aligning customer experience and brand promise. Marketing and marketers are central to the delivery of great customer experience.

John Lewis, third in Nunwood’s list, know this. Just this week, it was announced that the role of marketing director Craig Inglis has been expanded to cover end-to-end customer experience, while BA has just appointed marketer Troy Warfield as its first customer experience director with oversight of brand, customer experience and service.

The department store and airline are the latest to be added to the growing list of those that have acknowledged the need to join the dots between marketing and customer experience. Asda has a chief customer officer in Barry Williams who oversees marketing, a role and responsibility shared by Tesco’s Robin Terrell. 

More brands need to follow these examples. If your brand’s marketing head does not have ultimate strategic control of customer experience, it ought to, as no-one in an organisation better understands the nature and context of brand engagement.

  • Using customer experience as a differentiator will be among the topics discussed by some of the world’s biggest brands on the customer experience stage at the Festival of Marketing in November. For more information go to www.festvalofmarketing.com

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