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Driving Business Growth”

It's More Than Engagement: CX Leadership Is Earned
How Marketing Creates Great Customer Experience - Part 4 of 4

Lynn Hunsaker, Chief Customer Officer - ClearAction Continuum


Growth is the ultimate measure of Marketing’s effectiveness. In addition to revenue generation, Marketing is expected to stimulate customer lifetime value. Toward these growth objectives, this four-part series has explored four keys to Marketing that creates great customer experience*:

  • Part 1 - Holistic end-to-end view of customers’ cumulative interactions with your brand (i.e. what is customer experience).
  • Part 2 - Manage your brand promise in terms of customers’ goals and their cumulative expectations and perceptions of value they receive (i.e. what is customer experience management).
  • Part 3 - Continually build relationship strength with your customers by fostering trust (i.e. what is customer experience leadership).
  • Part 4 (below) - Earn customer experience leadership growth by embedding outside-in in your company’s DNA (i.e. what is customer experience-based sustained growth).

Customer Engagement Savvy
A goldmine of customer intelligence** is created in Marketing by engaging customers (studies, offers, events, digital tracking, etc.) and monitoring the market. In a way, this makes Marketing the most outside-in savvy group in your company. Yet outside-in is more than customer engagement***, customer intelligence, and application of predictive analytics.

Outside-in can be superficial or embedded. It’s skin-deep when customer engagement is primarily about getting the customer to do things for your company’s benefit. It’s embedded when customer engagement is primarily organic – as a result of Marketing and your whole company being in-sync with customers.

Customer Disengagement
A close look at the demise of brands that no longer exist (e.g. Toys R Us, Circuit City, Washington Mutual Bank, Blockbuster Video, etc.) will reveal a common root cause: Marketing and/or other disciplines being out-of-sync with your core customer segment’s expectations. Being out-of-sync with customers leads to customer disengagement.

A single decision or handoff by your Legal department – or Manufacturing, Engineering, Accounts Receivable, Sales, Quality, Facilities – can either harm or help customer experience!

Brands that have suffered serious mis-steps (e.g. United Airlines, JC Penney, Wells Fargo, etc.) prove that an individual decision can derail years of goodwill and Marketing’s precious investment in brand reputation.

Customer Engagement is a Two-Way Street
As these examples attest, it requires action by customers AND alignment throughout your company.

As marketers we already know a lot about generating action by customers. Let’s explore the other side of the street: why alignment throughout your company is mission-critical, and how Marketing can influence company-wide alignment with customers.

What’s the True Value Proposition? When customers buy your products and services, they’re paying fair market value – and have no obligation to engage with your company beyond payment. They’ve got plenty to do in their life or business, and they certainly buy from many other brands to fulfill all their needs. In fact, the value proposition they bought into often gets severely diluted by unexpected costs for customers: waiting, uncertainty, seeking clarity, and effort (time, stress and costs) resolving your company’s sub-par performance.

What’s the True Cost of Mis-Alignment? Anyone who’s seen a customer journey map gains an appreciation for the horizontal flow of customer experience and for the havoc caused by managing your business vertically. Seamless, frictionless customer experience requires cross-functional coordination and collaboration.


Bridges across silos (e.g. disconnected data, systems, channels, assumptions, vision, metrics, handoffs, etc.) are vital to both operational efficiency and customer experience excellence. Costs of mis-alignment within your company – and especially mis-alignment with your primary target segment’s expectations – include churn internally and externally, delayed revenue, wasted budget, deflated goodwill and productivity, and lost opportunities.

Why Incentives? Enticing customer engagement through various incentives can be an endless treadmill. Do a quick assessment of incentives your company offers customers: is the incentive basically making up for something that was out-of-sync with customers’ expectations (or out-of-sync with your brand promise, or in other words: eroded value proposition)?

Marketing’s Influence of Outside-In
Your company’s alignment with customers requires outside-in thinking and doing by everyone – no exceptions. Use customer intelligence to:

  1. Show all disciplines how their decisions have a ripple-effect on customer touch-points and customers’ experience (and the associated costs deeply diluting salaries, budgets and dividends).
  2. Set standards based on customers’ value quotient (what they get versus what they give up), rather than industry norms or subject matter experts’ views, to define getting the right things right.
  3. Setup systematic efforts that empower all disciplines to collaborate in preventing recurrence of customers’ hassles.
  4. Encourage all disciplines to anticipate customer experience consequences such that customers’ hassles are prevented in the first place.

These uses of customer intelligence are essential in protecting your value proposition, brand promise, and investments in customer engagement. Using customer intelligence in these ways bridges silos, minimizes waste, prevents dis-engagement, and avoids incentives as crutches toward customer engagement.

Make sure your own Marketing group is outside-in well beyond skin-deep. Use your goldmine of customer intelligence to guide your own thinking and actions. Do this by adopting the recommendations in Parts 1-3 of this article series.

Engage others in your company to consistently use customer intelligence in their teams’ thinking and actions. Partner with parties in your company who know how to drive change company-wide, to embed outside-in into your company’s DNA.

Embedded outside-in results in organic demand and customer engagement. Follow the example of companies you admire for the customer experience they consistently empower. They’re outside-in from the top, aligned within, and constantly adjusting to be in-sync with customers.

Outside-in alignment frees up resources to maintain customer experience leadership. Embedded outside-in makes your brand a magnet for the best talent and the best customers. It’s the silver bullet you’ve been seeking toward sustained revenue and customer lifetime value growth.

  * Customer Experience - Customers’ realities versus their expectations in selecting, getting and using a solution that enables a capability they want.

 ** Customer Intelligence - Integration, mining, and analysis of customer data for managerial wisdom and running the business effectively.

*** Customer Engagement - An interaction that strengthens the emotional, psychological or physical investment a customer has in a brand.

SoCal BMA Blog - Lynn Hunsaker - ClearAction Continuum

Lynn Hunsaker
Chief Customer Officer
ClearAction Continuum

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