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C2B Marketing – Flipping the Paradigm

AcxiomJune 15, 2015

Many brands grappling with how best to improve their EBITDA results or their Net Promoter Scores (NPS), continue to think about marketing their products and services to consumers, when for years the paradigm has been flipped.  With the advent of social media, consumers hold the power.  Consider these statements from Bain & Co. in 2011 and McKinsey in 2014:

  • Customers don’t see the web of organizations and processes that operate behind the scenes to deliver their experiences. They see that series of interactions from the outside in, colored by their expectations and their alternatives. Customer experience leaders embrace the same perspective, rising above internal complexity to see and manage the whole picture from the customer’s POV.  (Bain & Co. – 2011)
  • Our work in this area suggests that the growth rate of EBITDA of grocers that focus on customer analytics is 11 percent, compared with just 3 percent on average for their main competitors. For big-box retailers, the difference is 10 percent compared with 2 percent.  (McKinsey – 2014)

Make no mistake; C2B marketing is not new.  Yellow Pages are C2B, so is Search.  Nonetheless, managing and improving the process from the consumer’s point of view, removing friction from sales and service processes, as well as providing information on a product or a service where and when the consumer requests it,  are each essential to contextual consumer engagement.  They require integrated systems that ensure information about a consumer is shared across all touch points.  Having access to the most up-to-date information about each consumer underlies a company’s ability to create experiences that surprise and delight.

Customer experience practitioners have a simple goal: create brand evangelists.  Evangelists are born when you surpass a customer’s expectations.

  • A lost credit card replaced via an AM FedEx delivery the following morning
  • Complementary car wash for a routine service visit

That sword has two edges, of course; poor customer experiences can drive customers to malign your brand across social media and their network, or at best, create indifferent consumers.

  • Calls to a cable provider that go into an endless loop and an eventual disconnect
  • The refusal to provide a loaner car for a vehicle being serviced for a recall
  • The inability of a customer service rep to provide a credit card recommendation when given information about how that card will be used
  • Retargeting ads from a clothing retailer that ignore the person’s gender or known product preferences
  • Subscription ads and emails from a publisher whose product you already subscribe to

So, how can brands become better C2B marketers? I recommend 4 steps for getting started:

1)     Analyze the results of your marketing campaigns, yes, but also analyze things like the speed of problem resolution, the number of contacts needed to meet a customer’s needs, the number of future sales for each consumer with whom you’ve interacted

2)     Cleanse your data.  Excellent data hygiene is essential to successful data integration

3)     Connect all your offline and online data, to ensure that, when you can recognize someone on their desktop, laptop, phone or tablet, you have all their information at your fingertips, regardless of how they are interacting with your brand

4)     Hire great people, train them well and equip them with the information they need to help you create brand evangelists

This is a marathon not a sprint, but well worth the effort! As a brand you will have created an approach to consumer engagement that will empower the consumer to initiate conversations with your brand, products and services, as well as to give you early feedback and speed resolution on the issues consumers may be having.

And for Pete’s sake, make that loaner car available, or whatever the equivalent is for your industry.