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Why Customer Experience Ops is B2B Marketing’s Best Friend

Posted April 22, 2024
Nicholas Zeisler, Principal of Zeisler Consulting, joins our host, Camela Thompson, Go-To-Market Thought Leader and B2B Insights Expert, in this episode of the Revenue Marketing Report. Z shares why CX operations professionals love marketers and what we can do as marketers to make sure the brand promise lives on throughout the organization.

Nicholas Zeisler, Principal of Zeisler Consulting, joins our host, Camela Thompson, Go-To-Market Thought Leader and B2B Insights Expert, in this episode of the Revenue Marketing Report. Z shares why CX operations professionals love marketers and what we can do as marketers to make sure the brand promise lives on throughout the organization.

So for those of you in marketing wondering what has CX (Customer Experience) operations have to do with marketing? The answer should be this episode for you because it’s everything. We are going to talk about why CX Ops is marketing’s best friend. Z we chatted about this a bit, why don’t you give us a little bit of the premise here?

“A lot of times I will speak with potential clients who are suffering from this customer churn and they think we need better sales folks. You probably don’t. If you do, I don’t know anything about sales, but good luck anyway. However, what may be happening is that sales is doing a great job following your marketing. It’s like, well, we probably need better marketers. I wouldn’t be so sure about that and not just because I am not a marketer either and I can’t necessarily help you with that. 

“But is the brand, is everybody involved following marketing’s lead? Marketing puts a lot of work into your brand promise. They investigated what the market wanted. They investigated what the customer wanted and they came out with this brilliant marketing plan from all the way from here’s what our mission and vision are.

“Here is what our brand promises are all the way down to the tiny things like font, the color scheme, and everything going on. There is so much work going into that and your customer interacts with your brand whether that is going to be your website, walking into your brick-and-mortar establishment, talking to somebody in the sales team, or your customer care organization, whatever it might be, and then their experience isn’t aligned with that. 

“Well, you can’t market away from that. You can’t ‘better sales’ your way out of that. It is your operations and you need to look at how you do the things you do. Look at your systems and processes, your policies, and your operations. That is where we come in from a process perspective, improve the things you do so that the output in the real world is more aligned with what your marketing team is trying to tell the world what you’re all about. There are plenty of examples of that.”

This really resonates since one of the reasons I got into marketing out of operations was as a technical buyer, I got frustrated with the gap between the promise and the reality, and I appreciated salespeople and companies that honestly portrayed the product for what it was and were upfront about the shortcomings. I would still buy the product. I was happier since I knew exactly what I was getting and what was on the roadmap.

“That is absolutely the idea. You talk to any marketer and they will recognize and they’ll tell you themselves that by picking a particular market or a certain brand promise, you are picking not the rest of the world. For example, if you want to be the ease-of-use brand or the most integrable brand, that means that the service or product that we provide for our customers is all about simplicity. Set it and forget it. 

“Don’t you have to worry about it. Don’t even have to think about us. In fact, forget about us as a brand and you never have to look twice at what we do for you, what you do and what you need from us. That’s great, but then when your customers interact with your brand, I don’t just mean when they are leveraging the service that you provide or when they’re using the product that you manufacture and deliver to them. I am talking about when they call you and when they go through the sales processes, when they get billed, are all those steps easy and set it and forget it?

“If they are not, then you have got to look at the operations within even those support organizations and address how those are doing and whether or not they’re aligned with your brand promise. Now that’s just one brand promise. You could be the luxury brand. You could be the discount brand, whatever that brand promise is. Everything along the entire customer’s journey needs to adhere to that and deliver that experience. Otherwise, you’re missing the boat and you are missing an opportunity. You’ve got a gap.”

 

I am hearing a couple of big themes here as it applies to marketing, one of which is aligning your expectations with what your product can do today. The other piece of that is, I think there’s a big misalignment between the teams and there isn’t that feedback mechanism that has to be there in order to understand where we may be falling short and we don’t know about or where we are over-promising and CS isn’t able to meet us there.

“Yeah. It is interesting, the engineers and the nerds down in the product department are always given a hard time about not being customer-focused enough. They are so in love with their own engineering and building the coolest, next great mousetrap that they don’t think enough about, well, what is the customer trying to accomplish? What is the customer trying to do? What are their jobs to be done? As the saying goes. 

That is unfair because even though the engineers might not, and I am kind of an engineer myself, so my heart goes out to them, and even if they don’t necessarily get it right every time and even if they’re somewhat enamored with their own brilliance, they are at least trying to concentrate. They are trying to solve your customers’ problems and any new great feature, any new attachment that they have, whatever it is that they’re creating is intended at least to be functional and deliver on behalf of your brand to your customers.

“Nevertheless, as I was alluding to before, there are a lot of other parts of your organization that aren’t even thinking about your customer’s experience with your brand. Here’s another example. If you deliver your brand experience perfectly, whatever that brand, again I was talking about the ease-of-use earlier, but say that it is a luxury brand. It’s a white glove concierge service. We make you feel super-special if you’re a client or if you’re a customer of ours, every time you interact with us and every time you come into contact with our brand, okay, well, I want something that you offer, but I want it a little bit differently from what you normally offer it. I want it to be like a cafeteria sort of thing. I realized that you do this, but I want only six of those instead of eight of these. Can I get it like that?

“Well, what’s the experience with the legal team and the fulfillment departments? What is that experience? Do these folks believe that part of their charter is to deliver that brand promise when they are interacting with your customer? When your customer wants something that is off the menu that way? If they’re not, that’s an operational gap. Your customer would probably say to you that the engineering of this was right on. I felt so special when it was delivered to my position, to my work site, it was done so in such a nice, lovely luxurious way, you absolutely knocked it out of the park. But let me tell you what it was like working with your account receivable department. I did not feel like that was a luxury experience. Are they even thinking about that? That is where CX comes into play. It’s the entire journey and it is the dedication to that brand promise along every touchpoint.”

I’m having conflicting thoughts in my head. As somebody with an operational background myself, being in marketing and seeing the end-to-end experience and the issues along the way. It is tempting to try to fix those things or champion to fix those things, but that’s where your role should come in and people should advocate for someone in CX Ops to come in and think about those things so that marketers can focus. However, I do want to talk for a minute about things where we should be, I don’t want to say sticking our noses into other departments’ business, but you know what I mean.

“You are absolutely right. The whole role of CX, if it is done right, if it was approached in the right fashion, should be enterprise-wide. Here’s the thing, you talk about CX and there’s a lot of confusion out there. I don’t even introduce myself as a CX anymore because I end up having to explain, no, I don’t work in the contact center. No, it is not about customer support or customer success. It’s actually an operational type of work.

Nevertheless, the trick of getting this right, doing this right, is that it’s enterprise-wide. Every interaction point with your customer needs to advance your brand promise. If you aren’t doing that anywhere along the line, you’re hurting your brand and you’re driving customers away from you. You can think of obvious examples. 

“For instance, the luxury brand–it’s so obvious to make an anecdotal example–that if you’re flying a luxury airline and your experience at the gate is like cows being herded into a plane, it is so obvious you are missing that luxury experience. Even if, when you get on the plane, the flight attendants are multilingual and taking care of you, giving you a foot rub and bringing you champagne. Those are sorts of over-the-top superlative luxurious experiences. But what I’m going to remember is it was such a pain in the neck getting on this plane and how I felt like I wasn’t special at all at the gating area. 

“That is what is going to stand out since that’s the sore thumb that isn’t representative of your brand promise all along the entire experience. For that matter, if I have to call and make a schedule change and I have to call into your contact center and I am not greeted with a hello sir and, sorry about that sir, and I am not treated with a luxury experience, that’s going to stand out as well. Do I get the bill sent to me in a luxury portfolio? Is that part of the luxury experience? I don’t know, but it is all along that entire journey and all of those touchpoints.”

I can attempt to summarize the most important point coming out of all this is that too often B2B companies think of segments. We think about optimizing marketing and it is just top-of-the-funnel and optimize sales and it is just getting the contract signed. What I am hearing is we don’t spend time or we should spend more time on thinking of the end-to-end experience holistically. Yes, this is resonating a lot, and I am having flashbacks of standing in airports waiting for people with over 50 lbs in their luggage to shuffle through their stuff and determine what they’re going to throw out. It’s just terrible.

“You nailed it when you said holistic, that’s truly the idea. This is operationalizing the great work marketing does, all the work they do to define, describe and design a brand promise needs to be put into operational action to ensure your company is also delivering on that brand promise. A good friend of mine who is in marketing said, Z we do all the brand design and you do the brand delivery, and that’s what it comes down to.”

Let’s brainstorm before we end this segment. I feel like we’ve so little time to talk about this, but we’re going to hit the next topic tomorrow. Yet, before we do that, let’s talk about a couple of ways marketing can better work with somebody like you to get more information on how they should adapt to their message throughout the company.

“What is funny is that marketing is the best example of the proper leverage and use. I know since we’re going to talk about this in future discussions, of the voice of the customer. I talk to potential clients, brands and companies all the time. And they’re so proud and so excited about the VOC program, the voice of the customer program. I say great! What are you doing with it? They’ll go on about their NPS, or their CSAT and talk about their KPIs and I say, that is awesome, but what are you doing with it? There is never any ‘here’s what we’re doing with it.’

“When I talk to my friend in marketing, they’ll talk about how well we had this campaign in Q1 and it was awesome. It was great. What we found out from feedback from our target audience was this and that and the other. What we did is tweak it, we changed it a little bit and in Q2, we did this and that. We further refined it in Q3 so as we went into Q4 based on the feedback and reactions from the market and our target audience, we had this perfect and refined great message, and that’s what we went with in Q4. That’s a microcosm of exactly what you should be doing with VOC. 

“Marketing is, I think oftentimes, the best example of the mechanics of how CX works, which is listening to the customers, getting those customer insights, and then, most importantly, acting on them. Marketing does that all the time. I don’t know why the rest of the company necessarily does it.”

If there’s a place we could improve, it’s when and where we are collecting the feedback and integrating it into the campaign. So if we’re just focused on top-of-the-funnel, we might get good at that, but we may be misleading customers because we’re out of alignment. I’m hearing that we need to talk about finding the voice of the customer and that is tomorrow’s topic.

For more content on B2B marketing trends, listen to the full Revenue Marketing Report episode at the top of the article or anywhere you podcast.

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