We’ve all done it: called a company about a product or service only to navigate through an endless voice system. Perhaps after that we fired off an email to customer service and then we got online to chat with a service representative. Then as a last resort, we hit our social media channels to blast our comments to anyone who will listen. Will a truck arrive with a smartly dressed service technician or is this just another entry into the customer service abyss?
I recently sat down with Rob Strickland, president of Strickland Consulting and former CIO of T-Mobile USA, to get his thoughts on how organisations can and should be using marketing to help drive customer satisfaction and engagement.
Marco: Do you think organisations today are missing the boat on providing a positive customer experience?
Rob: I believe customer experiences are like footprints in the sand; as fast as they are made they are quickly washed away. This results in a lack of information to determine the level of your customers’ satisfaction. Companies must learn to cement those footsteps to record which customer experiences lead to increased satisfaction, loyalty, higher campaign response rates and sales. Tracking the customer experience is especially useful when developing a marketing campaign. Companies must constantly listen to consumers– across all touch points– to analyse their behaviour and respond quickly to changing needs.
Marco: Where should these organisations focus to improve customer satisfaction and the overall experience?
Rob: Today’s marketers have many approaches to measure campaign and outreach effectiveness, including Web and e-commerce analytics, market research and focus groups. However, marketers are missing deep insight into the actual behaviour of consumers, which can tell them how customer response rates and buying habits are influenced by the company’s marketing initiatives. For marketing to drive customer engagement and deliver the end-to-end customer experience, it must have ongoing visibility to all experiences.
Marco: What tools should companies be using to gain visibility into these experiences?
Rob: Traditional marketing tools can provide great metrics, but often the volume of data is simply too large for consumer brands, such as telcos, banks and cable companies, to digest and see how a breakdown in one area of the business is affecting another. It’s important to look at each channel your customers use to interact with your company – Web, phone, in-store, interactive voice response (IVR), Facebook, etc. – then create a holistic marketing plan that anticipates customer frustrations and allows you to up-sell to satisfied customers.
Marco: How can organisations measure customer satisfaction?
Rob: A valuable way to measure how well your marketing resonates with customers is to look at your company’s Net Promoter Score (NPS). This straightforward metric asks customers, “How likely is it that you would recommend [your company] to a friend or colleague?” As a result, the customers are divided into three categories: promoters, passives, and detractors. Looking at your company through these groups can provide great insights on how to improve your marketing strategy.
Marco: Can organisations use satisfaction indicators like the NPS to improve the bottom line and increase profit?
Rob: The NPS goes beyond the traditional Customer Satisfaction Index because it looks at your entire customer database and not just a pre-selected group. However, the difficulty lies in tying voice of the customer metrics like satisfaction and NPS to actual business outcomes. Across the entire customer lifecycle, consumers are interacting across channels and making decisions based on those interactions. organisations need to engage customers whenever and wherever they interact and understand the optimal times, channels and offers based on past experiences and profiles. Many organisations, including T-Mobile, are beginning to leverage advanced analytics solutions to see the influence of customer service interactions, marketing campaigns, feedback outcomes and more on buying behaviour, engagement (think social media) and profitability through loyalty.
Marco: When you served as the CIO of T-Mobile, they had a very positive reputation in the mobile industry for their customer-centric approach. Can you share your experiences there?
Rob: T-Mobile is one company known for its customer-centric behaviour. They gained a solid reputation in the mobile industry by looking deep into the behaviours of customers and learning from their positive or negative experiences. They leverage experience analytics software, developed by ClickFox, to gain a clear picture of its customer interactions. Those insights were used to steer customers to the most appropriate services for their needs.
Marco: What advice do you have for organisations to improve customer experiences?
Rob: CMOs and their C-suite colleagues must collaborate to adapt their organisations to the way customers behave now and redefine the traditional marketing organisation. Now, more than ever, how customers enter into the ecosystem matters to both revenue and costs. Moving forward, the companies that will survive are those who react quickly and directly to customer experiences and constantly adapt their marketing to meet customers’ needs. Keeping a clear and consistent marketing message across all channels is crucial to customer satisfaction. Consumers are making decisions based on every interaction, so marketers need to engage customers at every touch point to deliver the right offer in the right channel at the right time.
Robert A. “Rob” Strickland is currently Director and President of Strickland Consulting LLC, which advises companies on how to improve efficiency, cut costs and drive revenue from a CIO perspective.
Rob serves on the advisory board of ClickFox.