Customer experience has arguably been the marketing buzz phrase of 2015/2016.

But the interest in the term reflects marketing's increasing influence across the organisation, in a time when business models are changing.

At Syzygy's Digital Innovation Day, I listened to marketers from Lufthansa, Zalando and Consorsbank who discussed CX.

What to focus on - CX or branding? 

Brand advertising and product development / customer experience are two sides of business growth.

Rainer Hohenberger, head of e-business at Consorsbank, is in charge of both and sees the need to shift from push to pull marketing by focusing on product.

We decided to switch part of the media budget into product development.

It's more important how people perceive and rate your product - more valuable to invest in product and let feedback bring in more customers. 

However, there is interdependence between branding and CX, argues Carsten Hendrich, VP of brand marketing at Zalando.

"I see CX as part of marketing," he said, stating that "clear interfaces for example will influence the perception of the brand. It is interdependent with marketing. So nurture it."

Some of Zalando's curated commerce.

zalando

Improving CX is as much organisational change as marketing

"CX is disruptive." That's the view of Marcus Casey, VP of CX at Lufthansa who sees the discipline as a driver for organisational change.

He continues: "We have focused on product experience, but looking at organisations, how do you make sure there's a great CX across the entire customer journey?

"Organisations have to work together to do this - it involves more than marketing, from buying a ticket to arriving at a destination."

This organisational change, Marcus stresses, is valuable in its own right and should be considered a benefit of focusing on customer experience.

We definitely see [the benefit]... digital born companies have it more in their DNA. Customer experience is like ecommerce was 10 years ago. We’re on a path now.

Minimum viable products prove to the organisation that the process works. And you’re not just improving the customer experience but you’re changing the organisation, which should also affect ROI.

Is personalised CX a must?

Personalisation is a hot topic across all markets in digital, but is it necessary?

Carsten Hendrich, VP of brand marketing at Zalando, thinks that, within fashion, it may be a slight red herring.

Customers may feel more satisfied but we’re in fashion, so it’s not about showing people what they know about, it’s about providing new ideas and inspiration.

That's the overarching company goal - we think inspiration has the biggest impact on our net promoter score, though you can’t control or measure inspiration.

However, Carsten did admit to the value of personalisation, looking at "past transactions and entry points to serve relevant content."

Marcus Casey of Lufthansa argued that automation and personalisation are very important parts of a customer-centric approach in the travel industry.

He pointed out that trigger based communications are vital - "rather than broadcasting offers to everyone" (who might not necessarily want to fly to Vilnius, for example).

lufthansa

Products are secondary to service

Banking is a good example of an industry that in some part has lost focus on customer experience.

Can it be said that the public have sufficient information about their financial health?

Rainer Hohenberger of Consorsbank said the "whole industry is acting by providing solutions/products, rather than providing an experience tailored to what the customer wants."

That's the challenge for customer experience - being profitable whilst better satisfying the customer.

What about the role of the phsyical?

Zalando has acknowledged the role of the experiential for pureplays, recently buying a fashion fair in Berlin.

"Digital isn’t the reality of our customers and users," said Carsten Hendrich.

"There’s an opportunity to leverage physical experience with digital experience. Offline is a platform for our brands, too.

"We’re working hard on a direct-to-consumer approach, rather than the more typical 'exclusive' fashion event."

How do you deal with a 40-touchpoint customer journey?

The Lufthansa customer journey is lengthy. Marcus Casey discussed how to tackle such a beast.

The tech stack is sometimes old and not flexible. We were not born in an agile world. How do you deal with non-agile processes?

Pick small things, change these, demonstrate impact and work on core capabilities.

Ben Davis

Published 10 June, 2016 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is Editor at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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