Three ways to keep winning with customers
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Three ways to keep winning with customers

Always-on, multi- or omni-channel, customer-centric, honest and engaging... the challenges and opportunities of conversing daily with customers are almost endless. We spoke to three experts in the field to discover the inside knowledge that serves them everyday. 

Mark Mullen, chief executive and co-founder, Atom Bank  – "The truth will always out"

"You have to be honest about what you're doing. If you're trying to sell something, don't pretend you're just 'having a conversation' – people will smell a rat. Great marketing is built on truth, and the truth will always out. Society makes up its own mind and customers are more intelligent than companies give them credit for. To use online as an example, you have to listen to the social conversation, but occasionally you also need to 'endure' it. Your brand will be attacked and sometimes that's legitimate, sometimes it's not. These conversations were going on before, but customers now have more opportunities to voice their opinions – and millennials, especially, believe each other more than they believe people like me, or adverts, or brands."

Patrick Barwise, emeritus professor of management and marketing at London Business School – "Rigorously assess effectiveness"

"We are at the stage in Gartner's hype cycle where we agree that some aspects of social media are over-hyped. There are challenges for brands with measurement and with defining things like 'exposure' and 'impact'. Social can be used in different ways under the broad headings of marketing comms, customer insights, customer experience and relationship management, but there will need to be more rigor around assessing its effectiveness. I'm not aware of any great insights coming from companies listening to unmediated or unsolicited consumer conversations. Improvement will come from trial and error. We could do with a database of case studies where companies are honest about mistakes they've made in social – and the lessons they've learnt."

Jason Hemingway, chief marketing officer, Thunderhead – "Respond in real time"

"Customer engagement is not a direct journey, which means it's not about the funnel any more. Brands used to think that they could railroad people along the track, but it's changed. The customer is like a leaf blowing in the wind. You need to respond to them intelligently, and in real time, and you need to think more humanly. You also need to understand that value is co-created and meet customers halfway – meet them in the moment. But engagement is the relationship you develop over time, it's not something you can bolt on. Remember that even with customer journey-mapping, while it's usually well-intentioned, it often only provides a static point of view. It's not enough on its own. You need to journey map all the time."

Looking to learn more on this topic? Take a look at our Introduction to Customer Experience course, which builds an understanding of the customer journey on the way to purchase and after.

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