Customer experience: Strategy vs reaction

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Despite the increased competition caused by global commerce and social media empowering the regular consumer, chief marketing officers (CMO’s) are not doing enough for customer experience.

Findings from Gartner for senior marketing executive community The CMO Club alluded to such as only 3% of the 105 respondents said that their business’ customer experience strategy was where they wanted it to be.

Customer experience was on the agenda for most CMOs, with 90% revealing it was in various stages of planning and execution. Although one worrying stat is that 7% did not have any plans for this important field of modern marketing.

Do not plan, react?

One man that sympathises with the 7% slice is Andrew Gallagher, the senior marketing director at Papa John’s UK, who believes creating a customer experience plan can be difficult for brands.

“To some extent, you cannot plan a customer experience strategy, because customers’ experiences and expectations ( and those they have with and of your competition ) are constantly evolving,” he said.

Gallagher advises businesses that are investing in customer experience technology to listen to their customers and do it in real time, so they can adapt to any feedback they might receive. Although he did add that Papa John's does more than simply react.

"Getting the customer experience right, and making sure your teams are able to deliver it does take time and certainly takes planning and so you will some exciting initiatives from Papa John’s in 2015 that have taken detailed planning and collaboration."

Losing money

Not everybody agrees with Gallagher’s view though, Michael Ni, CMO of cloud commerce provider Avangate, thinks that the number of engagement points where consumers interact with a company dictate the need for strategy.

“With the increase of touchpoints, there is also managing the growing complexity of these new engagement facilitators and wiring them back to an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system during different points of the customer lifecycle,” he explained.

“In addition, we will see companies transition away from single-point transactions into deeper, longer-term relationships with their customers, impacting a company’s future revenue stream. So not having a customer experience strategy or a digital commerce strategy this year means you’re leaving money on the table and damaging your business in the long term."

Leadership pressure

According to other research, CMOs are not known for their longevity in a role and with customer experience being the activity where management expectations of marketing has risen most, they could find a lack of strategy becoming an issue with their superiors.

In comparison, digital commerce tied for third in increased management expectation, but Gartner discovered that it had the highest planned marketing investment over the next two years among study respondents.

Last year’s Gartner figures underline the importance of customer experience, with it being one of the top five strategic priorities for companies. It is also expected to be the second-highest planned marketing investment area over the next two years.

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