In my first post, I discussed the importance of brand equity and its relationship to good customer experience.
Consider this scenario of an organization where brand equity was negatively impacted by a fractured customer experience. In this case the “brand” is the corporate brand.
Internally, employees knew that the company was in trouble because:
- It did not have a clear, complete picture of customers.
- Each business area had their own definition of the customer based on their own partial data.
- The marketing group targeted middle-aged, price-sensitive customers.
- Advertising bought media that was targeted to younger audiences.
- Merchandising targeted affluent households.
- Customer service had no customer information.
- Stores, catalog and Internet channels had different marketing programs.
- Digital channels interacted with customers based on their narrow view of the customer.
- Data was not shared, so no one had a complete picture of customers.
- Marketing programs were not coordinated.
Needless to say, this negatively impacted customer experience. Customers were showing up in the stores holding two or three different promotions valid for that week. Confusion reigned as neither customers or employees were sure which promotions were good in which channel, or which could be used in combination.
The customer experience was a negative one, and marketing response rates declined as did sales and perception of the brand. It did not take long for Wall Street to figure out there were deep problems and the stock price sank.
What saved this brand?
- A unified view of the customer.
- Shared customer insights.
- Transparency of marketing processes.
The impetus was a turnaround CEO with a maniacal focus on customer and transparent coordination of processes around customer.
- His first order of business was to accelerate an already in-progress effort to consolidate customer data across the organization.
- He made data accessible to all business groups and channels for the tactical customer interaction decisions.
- For strategic decisions, he demanded an analysis to clearly identify and profile the best and next-best customers. He then required every decision be aligned with these customers.
- Every business area and every channel needed to show how their resources were being allocated to align with the various customer segments.
- Interactive channels needed to show how they were supporting consistent messaging to various customer segments and using data to personalize the experience.
- For the first time, there was transparency of advertising and marketing promotions across all channels.
- For the first time, business groups were aligned and had a coordinated message to communicate brand value to customers.
- Customers saw the same messaging across all channels.
- Customers understood what the brand stood for.
- Over the next few years, market share increased, stock price soared 800 percent.
- Employees were confident in their decisions and proud to work for the brand.
This scenario is a great learning experience of what can go right with a brand by consolidating enterprise-wide customer data, and providing transparency across business groups and marketing programs.
Management needs visibility into company-wide plans to make sure that budgets, creatives and programs all support the overall business strategy and the customer experience.
SAS has strong marketing resource management capabilities that are completely integrated with marketing execution capabilities as well as performance metrics. For example, SAS Marketing Operations Management provides the ability to plan, manage and share programs across your SAS Customer Intelligence 360 platform gives you the ability to put those plans into action and engage with customers.
Epilog: Turnaround of the turnaround
Unfortunately, for the organization mentioned above, all the good was undone when a new CEO came in and decided that the current customers were not important for the direction he wanted to take the company. He changed pricing and promotions, corporate logo, store layouts and ditched strong product brands that current customers were loyal to. He severely eroded brand equity among current customers. He insisted that his changes would bring in younger, hipper customers. But it did not because the brand was not one those younger customers valued – no brand equity. That CEO did not last long but the damage was done. The company is now trying to recover from a massive debt burden and damage to its brand equity.
Hope for the future
In our scenario, the current CEO grounds every decision in data and information – not intuition and we will be able to tell a good story of recovery in the future.