I’m fresh off of another exciting Dreamforce in 2014. It’s now my sixth straight Dreamforce in a row and I have to say, apart from crowd management, it was the best Dreamforce I’ve attended to date. The announcement of Salesforce.com’s Analytics Cloud, called Wave, was the logical next step for the company. But even more exciting was Scott McCorkle’s keynote around Marketing Cloud and the emphasis on Journey Builder.
Everyone was talking about customer journeys – and rightly so. Getting a customer journey right can determine how your customer feels about your brand. Beagle Research’s Denis Pombriant, our good friend, described it perfectly in the context of families. No family (or relationship) is perfect. It’s how you recover from a misstep that matters. It is a defining characteristic of great families.
Your relationship with your customer is exactly the same. Every touchpoint with your customer is a moment of truth to get it right. If you get it wrong, how you recover is an even more significant moment of truth.
As an example, let’s assume an airline had a misstep with your reservation and, to recover, offered you and your spouse a free roundtrip, first class ticket anywhere in the world. You would be surprised…ecstatic…and probably an evangelist for that airline forever. While this is not a practical solution for every situation, it serves as an important lesson for handling speed bumps in your customer’s journey with your brand.
Now ask yourself this….who within your company is responsible for YOUR customer’s journey? Not a simple question, since a customer’s journeycrosses marketing, sales, product development and packaging, purchase and ultimately customer service. Who will ensure this journey is delightful? Who will plan for the eventual problems and define the corrective response? Can you even describe your customer’s ideal journey?
My vote is for the CMO of companies to take on the role of the Chief Journey Officer. To be clear, I’m not advocating yet another CxO title. It’s also true that the CMO does not have carte blanche to dictate all the actions across a company. But, I can’t think of a better conductor to orchestrate the customer experience. Who else has a better handle on the messaging and image of the company to preserve in the mind of the buyer? Who else has more skin in the game to ensure customers are loyal to the brand and passionate advocates to pass recommendations on to their personal networks? Bottom line is someone needs to own it, and frankly, when the customer journey is not owned and nurtured, the result is usually a bad one.
I think of the late Steve Jobs as an exemplar of owning the customer journey. From the creative advertising we saw, to the fantastic experience in the Apple Store, to the elegance of the product packaging, to the delight in using the product – Apple is a company that gets it.
Not everyone has a Steve Jobs at their company but there are a number of fantastic CMOs that have the creative vision and passion to orchestrate their customer’s journey. I look forward to seeing those CMOs willing to step up and take up the challenge. We need role models to show the way and own the customer journey.