KPMG Nunwood’s annual list of the top 100 brands for customer experience threw up some familiar faces. At the top was Lush, which went from third to first, while First Direct and John Lewis rounded out the top three.
One of the key outcomes from the survey was that brands with a higher ranking understood their customers better and were able to offer more tailored experiences aligned with their marketing promise.
At John Lewis customer experience is now an even more important part of its marketing after it explicitly included it in marketing boss Craig Inglis’ job. Last week his role was expanded to cover end-to-end customer experience, as well as marketing and insights, and his title changed to customer director.
John Lewis Partnership chairman Charlie Mayfield told Marketing Week at the time: “The root cause of Craig’s change is the continue move to omnichannel within the business and ensuring John Lewis is organised to deliver against the changing ways the customer is choosing to shop.
“Our shopper is thinking about the business as an end-to-end experience, irrespective of the part of the business they interact with.”
Sir Charlie Mayfield, chairman, John Lewis Partnership
The changes to Craig’s role will ensure he is critiquing every aspect of our customer experience to the board.”
John Lewis is not the only brand to have its marketing focused on customers. British Airways has just appointed Avis’ Troy Warfield as director of customer experience while both Asda and Tesco have scrapped the CMO role in favour of a chief customer officer.
Engaging with connected consumers
That customer experience is increasingly coming under marketers’ remit is a sign of the increasingly connected lives of consumers. They are constantly online and expect brands to be too.
Richard Robinson, managing partner at Oystercatchers, says: “Today’s customer lives an ultra-connected life. As a result customer experience has fast-become the vanguard of marketing, stepping up to go way beyond the 40 hours a week the average brand manager is working and stretching to the full 168 hours a week that the customer is living,” he explains.
Brands need to adapt to this change in consumer behaviours, breaking down silos that previously separated out store and online sales, mobile and loyalty.
What BA and John Lewis have done is recognise that marketing has the best understanding of the customer and is therefore best placed to work across customer experience roles.
“The ability today to engage with a customer through their true end-to-end journey from initial engagement to the sale and then ongoing customer engagement requires a wholesale shift in the way in which a business deals with the customer experience.
“That is why we are seeing experience marketers seamlessly shifting into these customer experience roles,” explains Scott McLean, chief operating officer at marketing consultancy The Intelligent Marketing Institute.
The changing nature of marketing
What the changes signify is the wider skillset required by the modern CMO and the move beyond a focus on creativity to more of a commercial role.
“When you look at the end-to-end customer experience, we are talking about the shift towards customer-centricity, the breaking down of customer communication silos and the need to identify and measure commercial returns from customer engagement. This commercial marketing capability is going to be vital to modern marketers moving forward,” says McLean.
Brands’ relationship with agencies will also need to change. At the moment the big creative agencies still govern much of what marketing does but in the future design agencies and shopper marketing agencies, for example, could become more important.
“Marketers have for so long been focused on communications work they lost sight of the mismatch between the real customer experience and those shiny promises embodied by advertising.”
James Poletti, head of digital strategy, RPM
“This is a big challenge for both client side marketers and agencies as we look to define coherent experiences of our brands across the channels where empowered consumers now take control of their relationship with our products and services.”
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