Home > Columns > CRM Columns

Moving Toward a Culture of Customer Experience

Loyalty360

Presented By: Loyalty360



By: Mark Johnson, Loyalty360   

The prioritization of customer experience is becoming more important for brands and marketers across almost every industry. New engagement channels and evolving customer behaviors are combining with constantly emerging technologies to give consumers more choice, flexibly, and power than ever before. This is making successful customer engagement both difficult and daunting for many brands. But it is also presenting a host of new and exciting opportunities.   

Effective engagement now demands that brands truly listen and respond to the changing needs and wants of their customers. Consumers are willing to offer their loyalty to the brands that put the effort into developing the authentic, personalized, relevant, and meaningful customer experiences that actually resonate.    

Of course, this can all mean very different things to many different customer segments. But it is up to the brands to understand, target, and engage these segments accordingly.    

Loyalty360’s upcoming Engagement and Experience Expo is an event that is dedicating to helping brands and marketers achieve this goal. And with this in mind, we asked a number of leading marketing professionals what customer experience means to them, and how it fits within their respective organizations.   

Artemio Garza, Meineke Chief Marketing Officer:   

Customer experience is about building a long lasting relationship with customers. It is not about getting them in for a single transaction. It is about making sure that they keep coming back throughout the years. To do that, we think it is important to know our customers, understand what their needs are, and employ the right tools to provide accurate, timely information about their cars.   

That is what we are trying to do. The whole objective is to make it easier for consumers to do business with us. Because we understand that getting your oil changed or getting your brakes fixed is not the most exciting activity, we try to at least make it very convenient.    

We also know that today’s consumer is very savvy. They know that all the information is out there. More and more, they are expecting real-time and personalized information on their purchases. So that is how we prioritize customer experience. We think about what exactly to tell consumers, when to tell them, how to best use the data that we have, and, most importantly, how can we integrate all that information into a palatable format for their knowledge.    

In the past, we used basic data like car maintenance and make & model to try to personalize things, but there is more that we can tie into that. We look at the customer’s online experience, what they click, what they purchase, what day they come get their oil changed, and so on. This information helps personalize offers that make sense for their routine and to their habits. So, it is not just about understanding the hard data on the car. It is also about understanding the habits of our consumers, to make sure that we are communicating something useful to them. That is the priority.   

Al Perkinson, Costa Sunglasses Vice President of Marketing:    

For Costa, customer experience is not really a marketing tactic as much as it is a full company commitment. The brand is the company. It is not something that happens in a marketing department. A part of it is our attitude about the community. We are part of the community, and we want people to be a part of the brand. There is a constant feedback loop.   

We are at the fishing tournaments and boat shows where our customers are. We have a lifetime warranty so we repair over 100,000 pairs of sunglasses a year. And we are always on the phones with them. Also, when people call us there is not a voice mail. We talk to them directly. Many customers seem to think of us as a friend, and send us letters and pictures frequently. It is all very much connected. Unlike traditional marketing that acts as more of a conquest, our goal instead is to become a community member.    

There is a belief at Costa that people have become disconnected from their world, and from where and how their products are made. People miss that connection to things in their life. It is almost a human need for community, and there has been a movement to reconnect. Brands that are real and authentic, and allow for that connection, have become more popular. And we have tapped into that.   

We look at communities much like a cultural anthropologist might. We have identified key things within communities that drive actions. And we have people from those communities who actually work at Costa, and manage all of our activities and communications there.    

Luc Garneau, DataCandy Vice President of Strategic Consulting:   

For me, customer experience is anything that relates to the interaction between a customer and the brand. That’s at the store level or through social media, or any other channel. Basically, everything is about that experience because that will eventually drive engagement.   

But there is just so much noise in the market now. I think many brands are more likely to be lost in terms of the technology they should use, and in terms of the strategies they need to use. They don’t know how to tie it into customer experience.    

So simplicity and relevance are critical. Since brands don’t necessarily know where to go with all the technology and social media channels, they need to be reassured in terms of what makes sense for their type of business. Some ideas always sound good on paper, but in real life they end up being too complicated.   

Secondly, and I know its been a buzz word for years, but with personalization now becoming much more properly executed, relevance is now even more key. Brands need to understand that customers expect that kind of experience now, which should be fully integrated in the store, out of the store, online, through social media, and so on. 

All that needs to be integrated. And I want to make sure that customer experience is really the driver of customer engagement. The better you’re able to manage customer experience, the more engaged customers become..  

About the Author: Mark Johnson   

Mark is CEO & CMO of Loyalty360. He has significant experience in selling, designing and administering prepaid, loyalty/CRM programs, as well as data-driven marketing communication programs.