Consumers only have one experience of your brand - understand that, or say goodbye to them
A view from Kristof Fahy

Consumers only have one experience of your brand - understand that, or say goodbye to them

Customers don't think of brands as a set of touchpoints - so why are so many businesses still run that way, writes Ladbrokes' former chief customer officer.

Marketing has always been aligned with representing the customer across the wider business.

As I’m now officially a seasoned marketer, this used to be a bit simpler. Most brands had one or two channels with relatively clear patterns of customer use and customer expectation.

Now, customers have a huge choice in how they use and interact with brands and they rightly expect that it will all work together. Now more than ever, we have to understand the whole customer experience across our businesses.

Hands up, I admit the first time I heard the term "customer experience", I thought it was yet another "next big thing" that would fill the pages of marketing publications and session titles at conferences for the next few years.

On any one journey across our business you can imagine the complicated and disjointed path customers might end up travelling - if, of course, they could be bothered.

Then I was persuaded to run a programme where we mapped the complete customer journey end-to-end, from the first time a customer ever heard about us to the time when they would never use us again.

We brought people together from every key customer team across the business and mapped it out - piece by piece, breaking it down into every single component part we could identify.

Not only was it fascinating - it was a huge wake up call. We had just over over 70 individual touch points managed by over 20 different teams across four locations.

So, on any one journey across our business you can imagine the complicated and disjointed path customers might end up travelling - if, of course, they could be bothered.

Next, we assigned commercial values to these touchpoints - where were we losing money by not getting it right? What were the ones we could fix quickly?

How could we measure them and most importantly - what experience did we actually want to deliver?

You don’t wake up in the morning, check your mobile and log the fact that you have had a 'mobile experience' with a brand.

The Customer Experience Map was the first important step in trying to get a business lined up around a way of thinking that really does put the customer at the centre - every day.

We have to remember that customers really don’t care how a business is structured internally - why should they?

You don’t wake up in the morning, check your mobile and log the fact that you have had a "mobile experience" with a brand.

Then on your way to work, you pop into a shop (yes they still exist) - and yep, I’ve logged it - I’ve just had a retail experience.  Then maybe sit at your desk and have a desktop experience with one of the brands too.

Customers just don’t think like that but many companies still seem too. In fact, many are structured and assign and measure commercial value that way too.

So, who in your business is looking at the customer journey - from end to end?

I’ve spoken to senior leaders who allocate customer experience to UX, or the conversion funnel or CRM or, in the case of one business I recently spoke to, had simply renamed the customer services team to "customer experience", clearly feeling that they had ticked the box.

This isn’t about marketing making a play for more power, influence or building another conceptual flag that we can drop into every conversation and presentation.

And, aren’t we making it difficult for ourselves to look at how customers are actually behaving when many businesses allocate them to a singular channel P&L?

Does that really drive the right behaviours when we know customers are using our brands in so many different ways?

Unless we really start to look at the customer in the round, business will continue to be driven by silo targets driving blinkered behaviour - which is neither customer centric or value driving.

Why should marketers take it seriously? Simply because whatever brilliant and market changing customer insight you discover, product proposition you create, whatever smart comms strategy and creative platform that you use to introduce it to customers - there are so many places across the end-to-end customer experience where it has the potential to screw up.

This isn’t about marketing making a play for more power, influence or building another conceptual flag that we can drop into every conversation and presentation.

This about examining and creating behaviours that deliver hard commercial benefits and bottom line contribution.

Customers pay your wages. Being clear about defining the experience you want them to have, building that and looking after them at every single point of their journey with your business is key.

If we are really serious about putting customers at the centre of the business - then marketing should really be leading the customer experience charge.

Kristof Fahy is the former chief marketing officer and chief customer officer at Ladbrokes Coral Group and named among this year’s Power 100.

Topics