At a recent summit on customer experience held in Sydney, analyst firm Gartner debunked three myths about the customer experience. Instead of talking about how companies need to go above and beyond to delight the customer, innovate and use data to understand and over-deliver on their expectations, what they actually recommended was:
- Don’t delight
- Don’t innovate
- Don’t correlate data.
The point Gartner makes about this is that there is actually no return on the additional investment required to be constantly delighting, constantly innovating or using quantitative data (and correlating it with other data points to draw conclusions) instead of using qualitative data to understand causation and motivation: why customers do or don’t buy.
Arguably, great customer experience is about removing friction and creating “effortless experiences”: making it easy for customers to locate your stores, making it easy for them to use your product to get the outcome they were seeking, or helping them to access customer service quickly.
This is about doing the basics really well. Meeting expectations — but meeting them consistently, across all touch points.
This stance is supported by research Simple conducted recently with the Australian Marketing Institute that revealed some interesting and contradictory facts about marketers and the customer experience:
On the plus side, marketers are more likely than anyone to be in charge of managing the customer experience with 59% of respondents reporting the CMO or marketing team is responsible for the customer experience in their organisation.
But while they rate the importance of brand consistency very highly when it comes to creating that customer experience — with 87% saying it is either very important or extremely important — more than half say their own brand is falling short in key areas such as brand messaging and visual appearance.
So how can marketers improve the brand experience to help ensure they are ultimately delivering effortless customer experiences? Here are 7 tips to help marketers improve brand consistency, clarity and cut-through.
1. Standardise what you can
Ensure the objectives your campaigns are working towards line up with your organisation’s strategic goals to ensure your brand positioning and purpose is clear and consistent. Communicate marketing’s objectives back to the business so your key stakeholders know what to expect. Then make sure all your teams have access to your brand style guide, brand templates and other documents designed to keep you all on the same page and delivering to the same standard. Don’t forget to standardise your briefing documents, so marketing gets the information it needs the first time, rather than having to chase up stakeholders.
2. Centralise plans, reference documents and assets
Create an up-to-date marketing plan in a central location everyone can access. If you’re working in spreadsheets (and most of us are), consider a centralised calendar that can offer different views to different stakeholders. Create a central repository for key reference documents – such as legal disclaimers and approval matrices – and don’t forget to centralise your creative assets, approved images and the like to ensure fast-turnaround work remains brand consistent. In fact, a digital asset manager, coupled with the right processes, can function like a monitoring service where Marketing Central can see what the satellite offices are creating and get them back on brand as required.
3. Document and templatise your processes
How many of us have a central source of truth for how to get things done? Less than half, according to our research. But if you track, streamline and document your marketing processes — including average timeframes for often-repeated work and turnaround times for key approvers — and then disseminate and stick to them, you’re giving your team a better than average chance of producing the work you need to the standard you require in the time you have — all so you can create the experience your customers expect.
4. Triage ad hoc projects
Prioritise as ruthlessly as you can, especially when it comes to those random marketing projects that crop up. They always seem to be urgent but often end up truncating the time you can spend on your other important work. This is easier said than done, but if you have a prioritised public to-do list, or backlog, it’s clear to all stakeholders where their project stands in the pecking order and it’s then up to them to make the argument to have it elevated, allowing marketing the time it needs to focus on what it does best.
5. Collaborate in one place
How many marketers function as the go-between for stakeholders in other company departments and your creative agencies? That time spent forwarding and passing on emails — or even just looking for the emails or messages your boss sent you (only to find they put it in a text) — can take a day out of your working week before you’ve even noticed – a day that could have been spent creating great brand experiences. And who wakes up in the morning excited about delivering great ‘brand admin’?
6. Use technology to automate as much as possible
I’m thinking approval requests, audit trail creation and reporting. Use technology, such as a marketing resource management platform and reporting dashboards to lighten the load wherever you can to free up your marketing team’s time for marketing.
7. Borrow from agile thinking and improve process as well as results
The agile methodologies that are creeping into marketing — think ‘standups’ and kanban boards, among others — have one very beneficial element that is often overlooked: a focus on looking back once a project has been completed and assessing the process as much as the outcomes. This is relatively neglected in marketing, where improving your briefing process alone could save your team days, your agencies weeks and deliver a better brand and customer experience, faster.