Your Customers are not Robots – Their Experience is Important and Unique

by Jackie Davis

An oversized green straw, a black turtleneck, and an orange swoosh? All symbols of iconic brands that are pushing the customer journey to a new level. A recent study by the CMO Council and Harte Hanks found that Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) believe that brands like Starbucks, Apple, Nike, and Amazon are excelling in customer experience and omni-channel engagement – but for us regular joes, customer engagement can be harder to perfect.

The study found that 42 percent of marketers believe these brands aren’t just building better relationships but are effectively leveraging customer experience to drive growth. For many organizations, the customer experience is lacking which may be due to a focus on data and the bottom line rather than human relationships. Over 41 percent of marketers surveyed said that relationship building falls second to campaign deployment and nearly one-third said they sometimes forget their “targets” are humans.

“Somewhere in our adoption of data, technology, and process, the customer and the very real, human and fragile relationships that marketers have worked so hard to build have been lost, giving way to settling for assumptions about broad personas and an almost obsessive focus on campaign performance,” said Liz Miller, SVP of Marketing with the CMO Council.

So, what does this mean for marketers? Yes, a focus on data, analytics, and ROI is always important, but so is the human relationships brands build. To continue to connect with customers on a human level, marketers must get to know their customers’ needs and wants and connect with them through a memorable customer journey before venturing into new channels and markets.

The report, Bringing a Human Voice to Customer Choice, highlighted that organizations likely aren’t ready to expand into an omni-channel experience. Not a single respondent said they were ready to integrate new experiences and points of intelligence to improve engagement.

“Developing the human experiences that customers are looking for can feel confusing for the data-and-technology-driven marketer of the 21st-century,” said Bant Breenof of Harte Hanks. “In every point of connection, our customers leave small data clues behind that can enrich our current profiles and give brands the insights needed to craft the right combination of message, channel, and timing. Customers will always tell us what they need. The real question is are we listening?”

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