The communication weak spot in customer experience

Whilst marketing communications is just one of the ways Customer Experience can be demonstrated, it is often overlooked and the impact it has on customers not fully appreciated. There is little excuse for not getting customer experience right when it comes to communications, especially with the information feed from the CRM system and the ability of the data experts to translate it into meaningful insight.

In this blog we bring you two examples highlighting the impact on CX when communications aren’t aligned.

cx delivery channels The challenge for the customer experience, data analysts and communication teams should be figuring out how to make the communications a brand differentiating experience. In order to achieve this all aspects of the experience (of which communications is a very visible one to customers) must be beautifully aligned and complimentary to achieving a defined customer experience vision.

But let’s get real. Let’s get back to a world where the promotional communications are sent when customers don’t expect, need or want them. A world where products and services are released promising betterment but fall short or fail to even use communications effectively to get past shortfalls.

Typically these ‘glitches’ occur because of a poorly integrated communication strategy. Getting it right isn’t that challenging if everyone has ‘customer’ central to their planning.

Here are our suggestions on how to align communications with customer experience:

1. Make sure you communicate ‘what matters most to your customers’, in a format they prefer to consume, rather than what matters most to you through your most commercially efficient communication channel.

2. Make sure you know where your customer is in the buying process (easier for B2B to achieve, but equally important to D2C and B2B2C).

3. Only launch propositions, products and offers when they are adding meaningful value to customers by taking them forward in their lives. Otherwise expect your PR resource to be spent compensating for your brands lack of customer understanding.

Stick to these when devising communication plans and it will ensure customer experience and communication budget isn’t wasted nor brand equity eroded.  With this is mind we bring you two recent examples demonstrating what happens when you ignore this advice.

The airport emails that lets the customer experience down

Sending the wrong message during the customer relationship leaves the customer feeling confused; ‘I thought you knew me, but this proves you don’t’. This example from Stansted Airport landed in my inbox. It told me I could fly from Stansted to hundreds of destinations. I knew that – I was actually away on holiday at the time having used Stansted Airport in the previous week to travel to my destination and returning there in a few days. So there was a good chance I’d seen the array of destinations on the departure and arrival boards or through various websites when I’d been checking out flight options.

stansted2The shame of this poorly timed email is that at the time of travel, my wife and I had commented when we travelled how relaxing Stansted Airport was compared to some airports. We went as far to say they really understand how to look after their passengers when they travel.

The email diminished that positive feeling created from the customer experience. To make matters worse when I sent a note to the sender explaining the situation to help them with their communication planning, I received a new communication offering car parking discounts. I only live 15 minutes away.

It highlights unless the communication planning is aligned the investment in customer experience will be wasted and returns fall short of expectations.

The Box which isn’t fit for purpose

Who doesn’t like to relax and listen to music on holiday? Me and my family do. The advertising for Blink Box Music had caught my attention and the customer reviews hadn’t put me off. I decided to trial the free option with the intention of a subscription if it worked out. I created a small library of tracks which took about an hour so we were set. Most importantly I was able to cross something off the holiday list much to my wife’s surprise and gratitude.

Fast forward to the holiday in France. Day one and I opened up Blink Box full of anticipation. Instead of the fruits of my invested time I was greeted with this message.

blinkbox3 #disappointing

The message itself is jovial enough, but because it hasn’t been made clear when I set up the account, it wasn’t the right tone of empathy. I also was on holiday and not living in France which did frustrate me because I’d input my home details to activate the account so BlinkBox know I’m not living abroad.

I checked and buried as Point 17 in the T&C’s, there is reference to territorial coverage. If earlier in the experience BlinkBox had posed, ‘how are you intending to use BlinkBox?’ it would have saved time and effort, ensured my expectations were managed and kept the reputation of the business for me, in tact.

However, the anticipation and experience of the service as an alternative to itunes, is undermined by not presenting the ‘limitations’ up front. Which is why knowing ‘what matters most’ to your customers and fulfilling these criteria is critical in communications for brands which embark upon customer experience as a differentiation.

Tesco as a brand does has a ‘customer first. Profits follow’ philosophy. These are classic growing pains of bestowing values to sub-brands, but as much as they may hope it wont, it does impact consumer perceptions of the mother brand and suggests that the brand has over stretched this time.

Keep communications in line if you hope to exploit customer experience fully

For customer experience to be employed as an asset and a differentiating advantage, all parts of the business must be aligned and follow the CX strategy. Communications, like Customer Service and Complaints have always had a closer relationship with the customer than others, so will be the most challenging areas to get to fall in line.

But without their alignment, investment into customer experience and customer propositions to create advantage instead of relying on price will always be compromised. Sadly the FD wont see or care about this when reviewing the overall return of a CX strategy investment. Either get all communications aligned or run the risk of CX being ditched as ineffective in favour of the less sustainable pricing approach once more.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Customer Strategy Consultant

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency | Putting your customers at the heart of the decision

We work with brands to attract and retain happy customers | We achieve this by helping them to understand what makes their customers tick, building memorable customer experience strategies and creating engaging customer value propositions.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to our monthly ‘Putting Customers First’ newsletter. Or for a discussion on how we may be able to help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on M: +44 (0)7968 316548You can also follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter @consultingchris.

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