April 24, 2018 - By Ginna Hall, Senior Writer, Visual IQ
To succeed in today’s competitive climate, brands must create seamless, personalized customer experiences. People-based marketing can help make this goal a reality. But first, companies need to set themselves up to measure the entire consumer journey and execute on those insights.
We interviewed Natalie Petouhoff, Vice President, Program Executive in Customer Experience at Salesforce to get her insights on how people-based marketing helps improve customer experience.
“Most companies are not built to be agile. Working on organizational change management is the overriding capability that makes it possible.”
Petouhoff was voted one of the Top 250 Most Influential Women & Top 50 Customer Service, Field Service, Online Communities, Social Media & CRM Professionals. Her expertise includes ROI and the business value of digital /social media, communities, human capital and employee engagement.
Prior to joining Salesforce, Petouhoff was chief digital and social officer at Weber Shandwick; Forrester customer service and CRM analyst; and management consultant and systems integrator at PWC. She is a sought-after speaker, author, startup advisor and university lecturer.
“In a typical organization, marketing, sales, and service operate as siloed departments that, for political or other reasons, don’t communicate with each other, and their back-end systems don’t talk to each other,” says Petouhoff.
As a result, most companies don’t have a holistic view of their customers -- step one for creating a seamless customer experience. Without a deep understanding of their customers’ interests and behavior, these brands can’t begin to implement people-based marketing.
For example, when a customer calls the contact center, part of the service department, to express dissatisfaction with a product, but that information is not conveyed to the marketing team. Any efforts the team makes to engage that unhappy customer may be wasted.
Employing a director of customer experience or director of digital engagement who oversees marketing, sales, and service is a key part of the solution, believes Petouhoff. “It would be that person’s job to make sure the politics are solved, that people are rewarded for collaborating, and that the systems are set up to measure the entire consumer journey and all the touchpoints. Then you could see where the gaps are,” she says.
Indeed, there may be more gaps than a company expects. “Companies often say they feel comfortable with their ability to provide an overall customer experience, but when you talk to customers, most of them feel companies are not even close,” she stresses.
That makes listening closely to customer feedback essential to creating a seamless customer experience. “A lot of companies take feedback as people complaining,” Petouhoff says. “Amazon, though, saw it as gold. They realized that to make the platform work seamlessly, they needed to listen to people. They continually iterated and pivoted and made the platform better. Today, after years of taking customer feedback, they have a really good platform and recommendation engine, and are very successful.”
Organizing around the customer and a willingness to listen make the experience smoother for the consumer and more profitable for the company. However, implementing these two elements can create challenges. New companies have the opportunity to regulate themselves and their systems holistically from the beginning, while established companies may need to look into new systems and consult change-management experts to ease the transition.
“Most companies are not built to be agile,” Petouhoff notes. “Agility is key, but a lot of organizations don’t know what that means or how to execute on it. I think working on organizational change management is always the overriding capability that makes it possible to iterate and pivot.”
To read the complete interview and see what experts recommend for a people-based approach, download our ebook: 8 Experts on How to Measure People-Based Marketing Impact.