As consumers have embraced social media in the Digital Age, they are conducting more research online than ever before.The digital environment is rapidly evolving, and navigating it requires the insight and collaboration of multiple departments.
Marketing not only nurtures customer relationships, but it is also becoming the product, the experience, and the company, according to the McKinsey & Company article, We’re All Marketers Now. In the new model of customer engagement, cross-functional relationships play a vital and active role in coordinating the customer response:
In today’s marketing environment, companies will be better off if they stop viewing customer engagement as a series of discrete interactions and instead think about it as customers do: a set of related interactions that, added together, make up the customer experience. That perspective should stimulate fresh dialogue among members of the senior team about who should design the overall system of touch points to create compelling customer engagement, and who then builds, operates, and renews each touch point consistent with that overall vision. There’s no need to worry about traditional functional or business unit ownership: whoever is best placed to tackle an activity should do so.
Here are three strategies for staying effectively aligned and engaged in an environment of always-on customer communication, as summarized from the McKinsey & Company article, We’re All Marketers Now, and expanded with insights from our Marketing Organizational Leadership series.
1. Everyone contributes to the Customer Experience, which means cross-functional collaboration and alignment across multiple departments and functions is tantamount. Companies need to focus on readiness for social media and two-way customer communication. Guidelines for communicating directly with customers should be defined, and internal stakeholders across all customer-facing functions should be trained on these guidelines. Some ideas suggested in the McKinsey & Company article include creating a cross-functional digital-governance council that plans the customer engagement strategy and embedding Marketing personnel in other departments, such as a Logistics group, to localize the customer response.
2. Customer insights are critical. As the volume of consumer data grows, Marketing can help to capture customer insights and introduce qualitative and quantitative validity to measure and improve the customer experience. Customer satisfaction metrics such as the Net Promoter Score can be leveraged to reduce turnover risk, while customer forums and customer communities can provide direct customer insights and feedback that can be analyzed to uncover macro service trends, issues and wins. Additionally, with all departments playing a greater role in customer engagement, customer advocacy doesn’t naturally fit into one functional group or another. “Marketing can help other functions by taking either a leading or supporting role depending on the project,” says Jeff Borcherding, Vice President of Marketing at Paycor.
3. Structure can help streamline the customer response. According to McKinsey & Company, “More structured relationships with distributors and partners can help with customer engagement.” Marketing resource management systems can help to centralize governance of brand materials and coordinate delivery of streamlined brand impressions across distributed sales channels.
With widespread adoption of social media and more departments interacting directly with customers than ever before, it’s important to embrace the shift towards an all-hands-on-deck approach to customer engagement. While Marketing remains an important hub for customer communication, effective customer engagement is only possible through the cross-functional coordination of the customer response across multiple touch points, with all departments holding an ownership stake in the customer experience and moving into and out of supporting roles. Marketing resource management systems can help empower internal brand advocates and external distributed sales channels and partners to communicate effectively with customers through streamlined brand impressions.
How are you building effective cross-functional relationships to support your consumer engagement strategy? Read more tips and insights for improving cross-functional collaboration through our Marketing Organizational Leadership series.