Businesswoman Leading a CX Meeting at a Boardroom Table
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Nearly twice the number of marketers say they lead customer experience initiatives across the organization versus two years ago, according to the latest edition of the Salesforce State of Marketing report. About 79% of marketers said they lead these CX initiatives in the report released last month versus the 45% who said the same in the December 2018 report.

“The fact that marketing leaders and CMOs are taking more ownership of customer experience while the demand of the customer appears to be getting ever more demanding says that this transformation is ever more urgent,” said Chris Jacob, director of product marketing for Salesforce Marketing Cloud. “Whether you're in uncertain or recessionary times or are in more prosperous times it's still there.”

Just how are those two worlds — marketing and customer experience — colliding? We caught up with practitioners on each side and discovered that marketers are playing a more active role in CX but it isn't without its challenges.

Customer Working Group Brings Marketing With CX

Jessica Fewess, VP of customer experience for Demandbase, said she feels marketing absolutely should share in the responsibility for renewal and upsell. In January, in cooperation with her CMO, Fewess put together a "Customer Working Group” that would meet bi-weekly, look at key metrics around customer engagement and renewal rates and brainstorm programs that marketing and CX could execute to increase core metrics. The marketing team was well-represented: demand generation, product marketing, field marketing and even the CMO.

“Putting this structure in place was effective in gaining the momentum and the mindshare of the entire marketing organization to think about customers as they did new business prospects,” Fewess said. “This was born out of a corporate initiative to focus on ‘Customers First,’ but became even more important as COVID-19 hit. As securing new business would be more challenging during this economic uncertainty, maintaining existing business took on even more importance in hitting revenue targets for the company.”

Related Article: How Your Marketing Stack Affects Customer Experience

Challenges: Data and New Territory

Getting this collaboration off the ground was naturally challenging, since programs like these have been long ignored, Fewess said. Data was a challenge, too. Most companies don't have contact designated in their CRM. Or if they do, the data is mediocre at best, she added. The key is to have main points of contact and other stakeholders IDs in the CRM in order for marketing to do its thing. Further, marketing teams largely haven't focused on customers before. “Coming up with the motions and plays that will impact those retention/upsell numbers is a new muscle,” Fewess said.

The good news? When teams dive into customer revenue marketing, they realize that they already have most of the infrastructure to make it happen through the work of the demand generation team. “Your customer revenue marketer can orchestrate the campaigns, plays, etc. with demand gen to create customer-specific webinars, include them in direct mail campaigns, nurture campaigns through your marketing automation system, invite them to field events and host special events at tradeshows (i.e. VIP dinners),” Fewess said.

CX Must Be in Marketing DNA

The idea of CX is engrained in company culture and hopefully that extends to day-to-day marketing tactics, according Tamir Sigal, chief marketing officer at Quadient. “We don’t get everything right, and we always look to improve,” Sigal said. “I don’t think CX is a one-time initiative. It’s part of our culture, KPIs, technology and corporate values. We are always eager to be better and listen to our customers. If we make decisions within our four walls without listening to our customers, we will fail in marketing.”

Sigal told CMSWire that across his company’s customer base, his teams put in specific customer-centric programs focused around advocacy, product training, support and thought leadership content. They include:

  • Customer advocacy: A global team focused 100% on understanding user community with the goal of turning each customer and partner into an advocate. “With the proliferation of social media channels, we know the importance of our customers’ voice,” Sigal said. “We want them to share their experience with other customers.”
  • Product training: This ensures customers get access to best practices, tricks and tips and content to improve their overall usage of solutions.
  • Customer support: This emphasizes multi-channel support across solutions and regions. “We want to be available and quickly respond to our customers,” Sigal said, “and we are looking at innovative ways of addressing issues. For example, we recently deployed an AI chatbot to quickly help our customers with the most common questions.”
  • Thought leadership: Educating customers and the market with content from the analysts, case studies and exclusive webinars.

“Before we put all these programs in place, it starts with having the right and most up-to-date data related to your customers,” Sigal said. “We have a customer insights team that analyzes our customers and deploys regular surveys to better understand the customer journey and customer sentiment. We cannot and should not always be selling. Our goal is to listen to customers, help our customers be heroes, promote our brand platform and ensure they get the most value of our solutions.”

Marketing Remains Close to Customers

Sigal said marketing teams at his company are structured in a way that is built around customers, solutions and marketing expertise. Marketing teams are close to customers, which is important for culture and language purposes, he said. A solution team aims to understand the market, solution and use cases. “Our marketing team has centers of excellence with specialists in various areas,” Sigal said. “Combined, the team works together in the name of the customer. We have regular cadence meetings and KPIs to measure our success.”

Related Article: Roadblocks to Epic Customer Experiences: Marketers

Marketing Has Life After Acquisition

Marketers seem to be onboard with playing more of a role in customer experience. In addition to the Salesforce study, the Annual Digital Trends report by Econsultancy and Adobe found that marketers noted "optimizing the customer experience" as one of the most exciting business opportunities.

Praval Singh operates from each side of the fence as vice president of marketing and customer experience for Zoho. The intersection of each discipline — marketing and customer experience — is inherent in his title. “Marketing doesn't stop at lead-generation,” he said. “In fact that's where it begins. Ensuring that a customer gets an exceptional experience across all stages of the lifecycle is the new mandate. That involves alignment of all customer facing teams and keeping the customer at the center so that all teams have the context when they engage with a customer.”