The frustration of marketing automation

Being a consultant at a leading marketing automation consultancy firm has its perks: new technologies, insights and marketing techniques are a constant thrill. But, besides working as a consultant, I’m a consumer as anyone else. Perhaps a more critical consumer towards the marketing efforts I come across, but nonetheless still a consumer.

And that’s where my two worlds collide: on the one hand I see all these great possibilities in my job, but as a consumer I still encounter many subpar experiences. And yes, that’s frustrating! So if you want a glimpse of the life of a frustrated marketing consultant AND some practical tips how to deal with this, read on.

First-hand Customer Experiences

Still here? Ok, welcome to my universe of first world problems.

1. Insured? Yes. Cured? No!

The other day I had some questions about an invoice of my health insurance company. Trying to avoid the never-ending queue of their contact center, I submitted my questions through an online form and checked the box that I wanted their answer by email.

Two days later, during business hours, my phone rang. Again and again. Whilst in a meeting I was unable to answer, but they’ve left me a voicemail if I could contact them by calling their general customer service number. So, there I was, back to square one, completely ignored in both my questions as well as my preferred way of contact leading to a more negative perception towards the insurance company.

Takeaway: If you ask customers for their channel of preference for a response, act upon it.

2. The battle of the channels

As a father of three small children, time is a scarce asset. So when I shop, it’s highly efficient. To save myself a 30 minute roundtrip to the local hardware store beforehand, I went online, saw the products I needed were in stock and chose to collect them at the hardware store the next day. A well designed order confirmation was sent to me, stating I could collect the products the day after 13.00 in the shop. Great!

The next day I arrived at 14.00 to pick up my order at the customer “service” desk only to find a very unfriendly employee stating my order was not ready yet, because I had to wait for their colleagues to “order pick my order”. I showed her the email I received and she bluntly replied, “Yes I know, but that’s from Headquarter, you have to wait on our own pick up confirmation”.

A classic battle of the channels I replied as there was absolutely no reference of this extra step in the initial order confirmation I received. So there I was again waiting for 30 minutes on my order to arrive in a very crowded store, thinking of all the things I could have done in the meantime…

Takeaway: always make sure you have the entire customer journey in scope, not only the parts you are responsible for.

All right, cheer up!

These are just two examples of the many, many subpar experiences I’ve encountered. And indeed, there is still a lot of work to be done. When analyzing these experiences, one could state that these companies need to think omnichannel, break down the silo’s, focus on agile marketing and all the hot topics of today. True. But, there is a very simple thing to do as well: make sure you are always aware of the entire customer journey and overall customer experience. And how to do better, than being a customer of the company you work for? So easily overlooked and yet so rewarding!

In my capacity as a consultant, I’m always amazed to find out that marketers have not been their own customers, if it’s within their reach. Instead, consultants (yes, like myself) are hired to map the customer journey and help create the “ultimate omnichannel contact strategy”. But, nothing beats first hand experiences with true emotions, hassles, insights and delights.

Practice what you preach

So marketers: I urge you…please be an active customer of the company you work for. Consider this your world your real-life test center and experience first-hand what impact your decisions might have. After all, no one likes frustrated people, right?

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