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What makes us love a brand? Is it the product? Is it the employees that help you find what you need? Is it the expedited free delivery? Is it the timely communications they send? Each of us could give several answers about the brands we love the most, but at the end of the day, it all ladders up to the customer experience they’ve created, and the way they make us feel.

Marketers’ jobs today are harder than ever before – we are expected to anticipate the needs of consumers and customers, but not too much (because that would be creepy). We have tons of data at our fingertips, but not all of it is usable. Year after year, we are asked to do more with less. Customer expectations are high across every touchpoint, and we need to partner closely with other areas of the organization to fix any broken seams.

We can create the greatest marketing campaign anyone has ever seen, but if a customer has a bad experience in the store, with the product, or at any other point, the brand becomes tainted. One negative review out of 100 positive reviews still has an impact on people deciding whether or not to buy  your product.

Marketing’s goal is to act as the voice of the customer and it’s our job to surface insights, create actionable plans and be good partners to the rest of the organization so that everyone can rally around the customer experience. As Customer Relationship Marketing professionals, it’s our job to ensure that we build a strong relationship with customers across their journey and lifecycle with a brand. We need to treat them like a friend and provide useful and helpful information when they are buying a new product. We need to recognize them when they continue to come back and purchase more. We need to thank them and reward them for helping bring new customers to the brand.

I recently spoke on a panel during Advertising Week New York, hosted by The Drum Arms and Microsoft. The topic was The Future of Marketing is Customer Experience, and we talked about the importance of the customer experience, and that the future-focused marketer not only has to put the customer at the center of everything we do, but think about the full customer experience. We need to understand the what and the why of what isn’t working.  For us, Customer Relationship Marketing is just that – putting our customers at the heart of everything we do and building a strategy around how we get them to become a lifelong advocate.

What are some ways marketers can get started and identify broken seams in the customer experience?

  • Monitor call center logs and email inboxes.
    • Are there themes that come up? Are there pain points we can help close with clearer communications and information?
  • Ask for more than a Net Promoter Score response.
    • Just knowing that a customer will or will not recommend your brand isn’t enough to fix pain points. We need to know why and how the brand made the customer feel.
  • Conduct Journey Mapping sessions across key customer audiences.
    • By putting yourself in the shoes of the customer, you can document what they’re doing, thinking, feeling, as well as the pain points and challenges they encounter along the way. You can identify where there are opportunities and gaps for additional communication throughout the process.

Simply asking for our customers’ feedback and paying attention to what they say may be the difference between providing a great customer experience and a bad one.

For more on the importance of putting the customer at the center of everything we do

Author: Melissa Berger, VP/GD, Connections Strategy, NA CRM Center of Excellence Lead, Digitas

The original article was published on Digitas Insights.