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It's More Than The Deal: It's About Trust
How Marketing Creates Great Customer Experience - Part 3 of 4

Lynn Hunsaker, Chief Customer Officer - ClearAction Continuum


Marketing offers are designed to grab attention, spur follow-through, and go viral. The intention is to build customer lifetime value as well as near-term revenue. The first key to marketing that builds customer lifetime value, as described in Part 1 of this four-part series, is an end-to-end view of customers’ interactions with your brand. The second key, explained in Part 2, is to coordinate various inter-dependencies of customer experience. The third key, illustrated below in Part 3, is to continually build relationship strength with your customers.


It's a fine art: the master artisan constantly takes on the customer’s perspective to double-check every marketing effort’s long-term and short-term effectiveness. Here are three examples of well-intended marketing that went awry because of mis-matches with brand essence, customers’ comfort zones, and interpretations of marketers’ motives.

Brand Essence Fiasco - A bank decided to surprise a certain customer after one of the bank tellers learned this customer’s far-away daughter was going to have cancer treatments. At an automated teller machine (ATM) this customer received more than a cash withdrawal: the ATM also dispensed an airline ticket and note of encouragement for her daughter’s cancer recovery – like virtual TV this was all caught on video, of course, and posted on YouTube. While this scenario generated appreciation for a charitable act, its effect was opposite for many viewers: a creepy feeling that the bank knows sensitive personal information and people are watching behind the ATM wall.

Over-the-top treatment of a single customer isn’t always interpreted as a brand caring about all customers. Bottom line, this marketing was inconsistent with what people expect from a bank brand: privacy and objectively consistent treatment of all customers. 

Jumping Through Hoops Snafu - A fast food restaurant waived the bill for customers if they followed a suggested act of kindness on their receipt during a certain promotional period. While this marketing generated positive word-of-mouth and appreciation by some customers, it also turned off a lot of customers complained of being uncomfortable with requests like hugging a stranger. They felt like they were jumping through hoops.

Transparency Mis-Step - A movie theater answered a complaining patron on social media with eight complimentary movie passes. While the social post went viral many customers saw through the over-generous response as self-serving public relations.

Customer experience is more than the deal. Marketers’ motives are more transparent to customers today. This means more harm than good can be caused by one-offs, inconsistencies, fine-print restrictions, hurdles, and self-serving tactics.

Trust-Based Marketing

Customer experience is about trust. It’s built through consistency across circumstances and time. Trust is strengthened by integrity to the brand promise your customers perceive. Trust increases by demonstrating respect, humility, and concern for others’ needs above one’s own needs.

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, trust of companies has been declining over the past few years.

       Trust Index.jpeg

Marketing’s role in customer experience leadership is to nurture trust for strong relationships with the customer base and the ecosystem. A trust-building marketing approach generates the best sales leads, supports profitable retention, and builds customer lifetime value.

A self-assessment can be applied to every communication, event, promotion, research invitation, and so forth across Marketing to encourage relationship-building results.

  • Is this based on our listening to customers?
  • Does this demonstrate that we understand our customers’ world? (by customer segment)
  • Does this respect individual customer circumstances?
  • Does this prevent surprises to customers?
  • Does this maintain consistency? (across time and circumstances)
  • Does this resonate with the brand promise perceived by our customers?
  • Does this show we care about our customers’ well-being?

In Part 4 of this series focuses on alignment with the array of stakeholders: customers, channel partners, media, analysts, alliances – even internal counterparts – demonstrating how Marketing creates great customer experience.

SoCal BMA Blog - Lynn Hunsaker - ClearAction Continuum

Lynn Hunsaker
Chief Customer Officer
ClearAction Continuum

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