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Can marketing automation really boost the Customer Experience?

5 October 2017
by Nick Washbourne

Every year, it becomes more important than the last for marketers to nail the customer experience (CX). At the start of 2017, 72% of businesses ranked it as their number one business priority for the 12 months ahead, namely because customers are demanding more.  Value and experience now often trump price, so it’s unsurprising that some brands are getting pretty awesome when it comes to the CX they provide.

As we start to think about 2018 (yes, we said it!) there’ll be even further onus on CX levels, as chat bots are getting savvier, intuitive machine learning now underpins decision making for a number of companies, and in many instances, personalisation is going off the scale.

But time-precious marketers, in their hunt for a better CX strategy, don’t always want to play the long game. They’re on the lookout for quick wins – and with so many tasks to juggle on a daily basis, who can blame them?

Unfortunately, however, a great email alone won’t provide the fix that they’re so desperately searching for. A great email, in isolation, cannot boost the CX – certainly not with any long-lasting impact.

Why? Because an email is only one piece of comms. Yes it can be personalised. It can have a stand out creative design. It can be constructed so that it renders beautifully. And it can include some clever features (have you seen our html toolkit?!) But what about recipients who don’t actually want to receive an email at that time? What happens when the timing is a little…off? The email alone can’t do all the work.

Can marketing automation really boost the CX, on the other hand? Possibly, yes.

Let’s picture a simple B2B scenario.

A sales person puts the phone down to a customer. They hit one button in the CRM.  Then that individual’s journey and the comms they get are updated, in an instant, as a result. There’ll be no irrelevant messaging appearing in that person’s inbox. And if they’re at a different stage in the buying lifecycle compared to when they first picked up the phone, they’ll then receive useful, meaningful comms to nurture them along further. Everything will be tailored to their needs thanks to the upfront effort of the marketing team and the intuitiveness of the automation platform. Marketing automation will even tell the sales or customer service team the right time to speak to that customer again, human to human.  This is evidence too of how sales and marketing are now intertwined, rather than it being a linear process of marketing first, then over to sales.

Switching over to a B2C scenario, similar principles apply. Two days before a consumer’s car is booked in for a service, they receive a simple, friendly text from the garage to remind them of the appointment and notify them that, if they need a rental car, all they have to do is reply RENTAL + YES and bring their licence that morning. On the day of the service itself, another quick early morning SMS tells the driver that John looks forward to welcoming them at 08:30. In this situation, the marketing team has deemed that SMS can add value to the CX, so the automation has taken the hassle out of making these messages happen. It could even ask the customer to complete a short survey at the end of the day (and we all know how important surveys are becoming).

Are we saying that marketing automation alone can nail the CX? No, of course not. If SMS was chosen as the channel of choice to encourage a prospect to download a brochure for something they’ve, as yet, shown very little engagement in, it’s unlikely to have the same impact as the garage example above. A great deal of thought has to go into the multichannel journeys that are built within automation, so it can then go on to do its job effectively.

But is automation pushing marketers out of their comfort zone so that they truly do start to boost experience levels, beyond some simple email sends? Absolutely, yes!

Photo of Nick Washbourne
Nick Washbourne
Commercial Director

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