Why a Customer-Obsessed Culture is About More than Persona Marketing

hug your customers

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Posted: February 4, 2014 | Lifecycle Marketing

So you have your database segmented by persona, and you’re running email campaigns. Good work! But remember, segmentation and email marketing are only the first steps toward achieving real customer engagement. A strong lead nurturing program will keep your database warm, but are your employees equipped to speak to each customer’s specific needs? Have you armed employees to get intimate with customers?

Customer intimacy starts with understanding your customers as individuals, beyond each one’s place in your demographic scheme. Rather than making assumptions about what their department’s broad interests should be, drill down into each individual’s specific needs. Not all sales operations teams have budget to invest in e-learning for their training initiatives. Not all marketers have marketing automation. Speak to your customers’ actual needs, not to what they should need.

The Changing Role of the Marketer

The role of a Chief Marketing Officer is evolving into a “Chief Customer Officer”, driving a culture that revolves around the customer experience, and empowering employees to connect with customers. Becoming customer-centric should be at the core of every business, because no company can be successful without engaged and happy customers.

But what does that actually look like? If you’re ready to create customer intimacy, here are the first three steps you can take:

1. Integrate Your Data, Tools, and Teams

You can’t drive a culture of customer intimacy unless all of your data is kept in one centralized system. Many companies have acquired multiple social and marketing tools that overlap in capabilities but are limited to only one department. This can create internal barriers – if systems aren’t integrated, the customer will be understood differently by each department.

For a unified, company-wide view of your customer, you must first integrate your marketing tools – social, marketing automation, and CRM. Alignment between these solutions will give each employee the same view of the customer’s needs and activities, both present and past.

When marketing to your database, take more than customer personas into account. Along with obvious metrics like a company’s size, region, and revenue, look at their activity on your website, response to your emails, and engagement on social channels (or lack thereof). Try to identify patterns of action and engagement. Delving deeper, you might consider an individual’s buying cycles or frequency patterns of engagement with your brand. Does the customer show interest only at the end of the quarter, or does he or she buy every month?

Lastly, the marketing team must cohesively work with sales, services, IT, and operations to identify joint business priorities, and deliver consistently and with the same tone. Each team needs accurate data and consistent visibility into unique customer moments.

2. Arm All Employees to be Customer-Obsessed

The modern marketer wears many hats and has cross-departmental influence within organizations. To achieve a customer-centric culture, a CMO’s first priority must be to equip all employees with the most relevant information.

This begins with employee engagement. When employees are supported and given benchmarks, the customer experience is immediately enhanced. Providing support, knowledge sharing, and training to your employees can enhance both internal and external engagement and brand support. Build customer engagement benchmarks into monthly or quarterly report outs. How are you measuring employees on customer upsell and customer retention?

In a recent benchmarking survey, Bluewolf asked our own customers if they were measured on increasing customer engagement within their role. The majority agreed that customer engagement was a central focus of their role:

  • 70% of customer service employees said customer engagement was a central focus
  • 65% of sales employees said customer engagement was a central focus
  • 60% of marketing employees said customer engagement was a central focus

3. Challenge Employees to be Brand Advocates

As you start to establish a culture of employee engagement, motivate your team members to engage with prospects and customers on all channels, including social. Encourage your employees to build a voice in your community, and to develop their thought leadership to build their personal brand. As employees develop into brand advocates, they will amplify your current marketing efforts.

At Bluewolf, we launched an internal initiative to tap into this idea, getting our employee base engaged around the customer experience. This project is called #goingsocial. With specific training on leveraging social channels, and continuous competitions through a gamification tool, we’ve seen a substantial increase in brand awareness and customer/prospect traffic to our website. We encourage all employees to engage with prospects and customers through social channels, and also to be aware of the customer’s activity with our brand, whether it is on our website, in emails, or on social. In less than a year, we transformed our internal culture and saw results that included:

  • 153% increase in blog traffic
  • 68% increase in social traffic to our corporate website
  • 57% increase in Salesforce Chatter activity and collaboration

Businesses have a huge, untapped marketing asset at their disposal – their employees. With the right technologies, engaged employees, and a comprehensive internal marketing strategy, a company can grow their employees as thought-leaders in their respective fields.

Create Customer Intimacy

Marketing is the driver of innovation, so your marketing must promote a culture rallied around the customer’s individual and unique needs. Integrate your tools across teams, arm your employees with information, and encourage your entire organization to become  advocates for your brand. Most importantly of all, create a culture in which your customers are more than their demographic qualities – focus on what makes each one unique, not on how they fit a profile.

To learn more about how marketing leaders can create a vision of how their processes and technology will personalize customer relationships to increase intimacy, download Bluewolf’s new guide: The Three Pillars of Modern Digital Marketing.

Corrine is Chief Marketing Officer at Bluewolf, responsible for branding and communications, marketing strategy, and marketing programs. Prior to joining Bluewolf, she held marketing communications, campaign, and CRM strategy roles at Kodak, Aligo, and Mindport. She received her BA in Journalism and Intermedia Arts from Mills College.

Read Corinne's Blogs

We know you love your customers, but are you customer-obsessed? Here's how #lifecyclemarketing will get you there.

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