The Devil You Know

The folks at Forrester issued a study on marketing and customer experience the other day and it makes a number of interesting points.

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Maybe “interesting” isn’t the right word; maybe it could be more like “disappointing” or “confusing.”  Entitled The Convergence Of Brand, Customer Experience And Marketingthe study deals with the intersection of brand, marketing, and customer experience.  One might expect those three areas to be operating in sync.  One would be wrong.

Forrester found that 63% of Chief Marketing Officers consider customer acquisition their number one priority, while only 22% give precedence to retention. Kind of a silly choice, because there is a lot of  evidence that shows that generating loyalty and holding onto existing customers is better for a brand financially  than spending resources to bring in new customers.  In fact, the 22% statistic represents a decline in the focus on retention.  In 2011, the number was 30%.

What’s a little strange is that many of the CMO‘s do believe that they are, in fact, highly customer-focused.  The research found, however, that they are highly transaction-focused and are trying to foster conversions, not conversations.  Lifetime value is only a concern to a little over a third of these folks while two-thirds focus on segmentation studies to pursue new customers.

It’s almost as if there are two completely different experiences – one for prospects and one for existing customers – while it seems obvious that those experiences should be united into a vision that derives from the brand itself.  Otherwise, as the study found, there is customer confusion, dissatisfaction and departure.

No one likes to be treated like royalty when they’re being wooed only to be given short shrift once the deal is sealed.  Even worse, if a brand is a promise to the customer, no one likes to be confused about what that promise is or how it is to be kept.  Heck, even accounting recognizes that and puts something called “goodwill” on the balance sheet.  The disconnect cited in this study is disturbing and the trends it recognizes are even more so.

I’m a believer in “the devil you know” and the value of doing everything I can for existing customers.  I’m a believer in making the brand the source of strategic thinking about customers, current and future and expressing that thinking in a cohesive way.  Are you?

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