As we periodically recap our efforts, all marketers will be evaluating whether it has been a year of achieving their targets. Hopefully you have won new customers through effective campaigns, and your existing customers have become net promoters, introducing you to their social circles. Your social media programs have been getting likes, plus-ones, fans and generating leads.
If it's been a year when your marketing campaigns have worked, then now what?
Most marketers do not have the luxury of time to think about what happens after they meet their metrics, because a new set of metrics is on the horizon. But in order to succeed from a company perspective, it is important to remember that your past marketing success can be easily undone in the future if any of it results in a poor customer experience for those who responded to our promotions. Customer experience issues do not typically show up on any marketing team's metrics, especially when related to customer communications. However, subsequent communications that happen after your marketing efforts succeed are even more critical to ensuring a company's long-term success.
When a prospect makes the decision to become a customer, the process of customer onboarding begins. This part of the process is generally budgeted, managed and owned by a different department. Regardless of which industry you work in, onboarding can include a large quantity of forms, disclaimers, statements, applications and other communications. The customer onboarding process generally uses a series of separate systems, forcing customers to re-enter data and fill out complex forms. Poor onboarding experiences can cause frustration, abandonment or even cancellation of a service or relationship within the first 90 days.
A cumbersome onboarding process is largely caused by a mismatch in goals set at the management level. Marketing teams seek high ROI, and understand the need to spend money to make money. Their communications are high-touch, multichannel and engaging. Operations, on the other hand, focuses on efficiency and dislikes perceived waste, which means this department often views high-cost communications as expensive and wasteful.
Customer experience failures are a frequent consequence of today's organizational structures, because the silos are well-defined. From the customer perspective, many well-managed companies switch from a welcoming customer experience during the marketing phase to a poor experience during onboarding or normal service. The effort to "save" on the cost of a positive experience shows up as operational costs in unrelated departments, like the call center.
What can you do in the future to take steps that improve your company's end-to-end customer experience by bringing your marketing expertise to other areas of the business? Here are four things to consider:
- Effective marketing means having a full understanding of the connection between pre-acquisition and post-acquisition customer communications, and seeing this handoff from the customer's perspective.
- Better marketing will introduce mechanisms to coordinate pre-acquisition and post-acquisition customer communications, to make the handoff more automatic.
- Expert marketing will assert control over the company's voice by getting involved in the development of any customer-facing communication.
- Holistic marketing will create cross-functional teams to ensure a streamlined customer experience at every stage in the customer lifecycle by executing all customer communications.
As you approach the future, look around your organization to identify key gaps in customer experience quality. One area to review is your customer retention at 90 days, one year and three years. Big drops here can alert you to post-acquisition communication issues. By getting involved and asserting your knowledge of what makes a customer happy over more areas of customer lifecycle communications, you can keep the momentum you have built in your marketing efforts and extend the customer relationship for many years.
Scott Draeger is the customer communication strategist for Swiss-based GMC Software Technology, a provider of multichannel and personalized document outputs for customer communication management. Reach him at email@example.com.