What is customer experience? And what does its rise in prominence mean for marketing?

Customer experience (CX) is the product of an interaction between an organisation and a customer over the duration of their relationship. A good customer experience means that the individual’s experience during all points of contact matches or exceeds their expectations.

As a full service marketing agency, we deliver a whole host of services under one roof that contribute to the overall customer experience, and we educate our clients on the benefits of taking a holistic approach to marketing activity. But an effective approach to CX stretches far beyond the realms of marketing and into all aspects of a business. It requires an examination of the customer journey and all the touch points between a brand and a customer, developing a harmonious approach that meets the needs of the customer at every step.

For many companies, especially large organisations with various departments with their own targets and KPIs, this can seem like a mammoth task. So where do they begin?


Integrated services

A recent Forbes article proclaimed that marketers for big brands are spending less time thinking about disruptive outbound methods of reaching the customer and more time thinking about how to leverage and engage inbound support contacts. In essence, resolving a customer’s issue is the key moment of connection and truth when they can offer other value-added services or products. By integrating marketing and customer service, brands can foster brand loyalty through anything from digital interactions to retail ambiance based on how they make their customers feel.

Recognising the importance of integrating all aspects of business is crucial in order for brands to deliver an effective CX, and the same approach can be adopted to marketing services.

We are often approached by clients to help them improve their sales or for support with one or two of their marketing channels such as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) or Pay Per Click (PPC). We advise them on the importance of each marketing channel working harmoniously as part of a wider strategy that is integrated with the goals and values of the business and with the experience of the customer at its heart. After all, according to Accenture, CEOs who demonstrate a continuous pursuit of excellence in CX reap not only customer loyalty but also positively impact revenue growth.


Perception, emotion and personalisation

Customer experience is developed as a reaction to a customer’s perceived experience with a brand. It is therefore subjective and different for each customer, but by making sure that customer interactions add value, are user-friendly and, perhaps most importantly, are enjoyable at every stage of the customer journey, brands can go a long way to develop a positive customer experience.

Tapping into customer’s emotions and personalising their journey are important elements of the CX strategy. Indeed, personalised marketing helps to evoke emotions and create a stronger and more memorable connection with consumers. Personalisation requires effective collection and use of data.


Data is key

Data driven marketing is closely tied to effective CX. Brands that are well-known for their approach to CX often make innovative use of data. According to Econsultancy, leading CX companies are twice as likely to say that they routinely take action based on insights and recommendations from analytics than their peers in the mainstream.

Understanding how your customers interact with you and understanding their perceptions of each touch point along the customer journey is crucial in order to form an accurate picture of how to engage with them effectively and improve their loyalty. A common mistake made by many brands at this stage is to measure the ROI of CX rather than gaining insight into how they are delivering value to their customers.

For many companies, retrieving this kind of data can be a challenge, not just because of limitations in technology or expertise in methodology, but because the structure of most companies is a barrier, with individual departments working in silos and using data for different purposes without anyone taking control or ownership of the overall customer experience.


Ownership of CX

Organisations that spread the responsibility for the customer experience across various departments run the risk of delivering a disjointed and ineffective CX. By contrast, those that implement CX leaders have a greater chance of getting the customer experience right and reaping the benefits that result from it.

A good example of a strong CX leader in action comes from the multinational insurance company Aviva. Heather Smith, who was appointed by the company as their chief customer officer, kicked off with an intense 16-week period mapping out every customer journey, looking into the silos and recognising all the pain points. She is now masterminding a new brand strategy focused on translating the company’s brand purpose through digital channels. Heather explains:

“I really believe if you’re going to deliver it has to work end-to-end. If you operate in silos you lose something in the execution, because it comes through too many touchpoints and is not as aligned to a really well executed vision.”

(source: Marketing Week)

It is crucial for someone in a senior position to bridge competing priorities and investment decisions and there is likely to be a growing trend for brands to appoint customer experience officers to oversee all customer engagement in this way.


There is no question that CX requires improvement in the majority of organisations as many are not delivering at every stage of the customer journey, but there is a growing understanding, particularly amongst marketeers, that CX is the key to improving sales and conversions. For many organisations, this is about culture change to ensure that their values are reflected across the organisation and perpetuated through effective brand guidelines, a unified tone of voice and by, building them in to all businesses processes.

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