KCDMA Direct Marketing Symposium Recap: The Bridge Between Customer Experience and Marketing
Jessica Best, Data-Driven Marketing Director at Barkley
Every year, the Kansas City Direct Marketing Association hosts a fantastic symposium of trends, case studies, and happenings in the direct marketing industry. It covers everything from loyalty programs to mobile app marketing, from email marketing to direct mail, from insights to analytics. Data-Driven Marketing has come to mean just about ALL marketing and the KCDMA does an excellent job of staying on top of education and connections in the industry.
This year, the theme was the Age of the Customer. There were lots of smart speakers on the topic of when and how marketing touches other elements of the business, specifically customer experience and service, research and development, fulfillment, etc. Even the billing department is part of the customer’s experience with a brand, and marketers can’t afford to ignore those interactions just because they don’t manage them directly.
I got to moderate the closing panel at the Symposium, featuring three customer experience and marketing pros side-by-side from three very different walks of business:
Tosha Everhart, Sock101’s “Sock Boss,” a catch all that means she is marketing but oversees operations when it touches customer satisfaction.
Roberta O’Keith, operator and queen bee of the Business Excellence department at Black & Veatch. Her role is unique in that she actually sits outside the marketing, operations, finance and research and development teams and peers in to see how things could go more smoothly or could work together where they may not yet.
Judy Bloch, head of the Command Center for Citibank cards, in the customer listening and response world.
In 2017, these panelists pointed out that lines between departments blend quickly. Judy, for example, acts as a front line and early warning system for inbound concerns or trends. She also has access to a huge database of data on each individual customer that marketing can/could use in their communications to tailor messaging down to each individual recipient.
“In the command center, I can see things start to come together,” Judy said. “Plus, we’re the first to know about new tools and then to hear feedback on them. Before a new tool rolls out, Marketing gives our team the tour first and tells us when the emails/social campaigns go live. We can then report back: How many people are using it? Are there any issues or frustrations with how it works?”
This is vital information for the product team, but it’s also excellent insight for the marketing team as they tout the benefits, create FAQs, and craft future rollout communication. Citi Bank has regularly, standing weekly phone calls with product owners and monthly calls with marketing teams to always stay in touch. During a new product rollout, Judy says they could talk more like weekly or even daily.
This played perfectly with Roberta’s biggest advice for marketers: “Don’t be afraid to talk to your other functions! Know what your customer is experiencing across ALL touch points.” In order to do that, you’ll have to actually go TALK to them. Personally. Even if it’s informal. Ask your social media listening team what they’re hearing. How about inside sales at a Business-to-Business organization: what do they hear most often as reasons to buy or not buy? How do the IT, billing, service center departments interact with your customer… and with each other?
For Tosha, her biggest insight was joining Sock 101 back in July and realizing that their only real database was their email list. Not a bad way to start! But she realized that she needed more information on each of her customers in order to keep them happy and to provide them with exactly the right type of products. If you’re into fun bohemian socks, you get one type of product and messaging. If you’re into “banker blue” but with a bit of personality, you get another.
The kicker is that Tosha’s using “voice of the customer” words in her ads, much like the bigger companies BV and Citi Bank do. Sort of like user-generated content but “next level,” brands use actual client feedback and wording in Facebook ads or email campaigns. Tosha raves: “Our buyers are loyal and they love us. They can talk about our product with love even better than we can! And it’s all genuine and relatable: a real person actually said this.”
The whole panel said that most companies are working to really bring these data sets together: customer service center call logs plus social media comments plus email marketing open rates. They all make a more complete picture together, if you can figure out how to get them stored in one place.
Dig into more of this data-driven, customer-focused side of marketing at the upcoming events for KCDMA!