BMW on why marketers should take an ‘outside-in’ approach to CX

The marketing bosses at Royal London and BMW explain why focusing on experience, rather than promotion, can re-energise both brand and marketer.

Marketers need to seize cross-organisation collaboration as an opportunity to “unleash” their skills and take a more central role, according Royal London Group CMO Susie Logan.

Speaking on the first day of the Festival of Marketing: Fast Forward (7 June), Logan explained that focusing on the full customer journey requires modifications in both approaches and method.

“It changes the role of all marketers, because we are now as focused on creating experiences as we are on promotion,” she said. “That means we have to have a different skillset.”

Collaborating with colleagues, particularly those in tech, digital and data roles, coupled with adopting a mindset focused on the customer perspective, provides a pathway for a company to create compelling consumer experiences, Logan argued.

“It’s a really big opportunity for marketing to play a larger role in an organisation and unleash some of their skills,” she added. “Marketers tend to be people who are both creative and analytical, and that becomes ever more important as you move into experience designing.”

We are now as focused on creating experiences as we are on promotion.

Susie Logan, Royal London

BMW UK marketing director Michelle Roberts agreed with Logan’s points about collaboration, but cautioned that the core work of a marketing function should still be maintained, even if its aims have altered over time.

“[Marketing] is there to protect the brand, but also to help it progress,” she explained. “That role is very different from what it was five or 10 years ago. It’s now much more rooted in the customer experience. A large portion of that is the marketer’s responsibility.”

Customer experience may be a primarily data-driven affair, but how can a CMO ensure the tone of voice and brand values are ever-present in those experiences? For Logan, that’s where the creative process is at its most potent.

“I think of a brand as a way of translating the company’s identity to our audience groups,” she said. “There’s always going to be a really important creative role so the brand can emotionally connect with audiences and create a feeling. Once you can do that consistently then you’re half the way there.”

The ultimate aim is to have the brand leading the experience, with guidelines and design principles that expand across a digital journey. “That’s where a brand creates a consistency and reinforces an expectation with a customer,” Logan added.

“It doesn’t have to be emotional at every single touchpoint, it’s knowing your audience and what they’re doing. But you need to make sure that you don’t undermine the creative expectation that you sell of the brand at the outset.”

Taking an ‘outside in’ perspective

The automotive industry has always been about experience and emotion but, as Roberts explains, there’s also plenty of what she calls the “transactional experiences”. The seamless customer experience, in other words.

In a world where customer expectations are increasingly based on individual, personalised experiences, that can be a challenge.

“It’s a tough thing to achieve, because it’s an experience that looks different for every individual consumer,” Roberts explained. “We are judged as brands, rightly so, by the experience that we create.”

BMW staff are increasingly being taught to see the customer experience outside-in, rather than from an inside-out perspective. Training, like the Best for Customer programme, are helping the organisation manage consumer journeys.

We are judged as brands, rightly so, by the experience that we create.

Michelle Roberts, BMW

When it comes to attracting talent to work on driving the customer experience at Royal London, Logan cheerily admits it can be tricky given the stuffy image of pension brands.

“We’re competing with companies that are more cool,” she said. “We work very hard on our culture, to offer a supportive, collaborative and engaging colleague experience.”

Last year the company set a strategy to become more purpose-driven. Logan readily embraces this shift, which is based on the idea of ‘Don’t tell me you’re good, show me you’re good’.

“Having a purpose to guide you helps deliver that,” she added. “It’s going to become an expectation of any responsible business.”