Customer Experience… a better name for Marketing?

You might be reading the title of this blog entry thinking “Wait a minute? Is this guy serious?”

So – am I serious?

Now, of course, we can argue for a year and a day as to what makes marketing & customer experience different, however I think a lot of this comes down to what a person’s definition of marketing is. This is the key to the problem. Marketing is the most misunderstood of all business activities.

If you walked down the high street and stopped every person you met and asked them what marketing was, you would be more than likely to get a different answer from each one. The majority of them would tell you something that bore some resemblance to the truth, however you would be highly unlikely to get a truly accurate answer from any of them. Some might get it completely wrong. Some might give you the partial truth, along the lines of:

“It’s something to do with advertising isn’t it?”

or even…

“It’s like selling isn’t it?”

Someone with a little bit of knowledge or training might stretch as far as to say:

“It’s all about the 4/ 7 P’s isn’t it?”

Now, to be fair, none of these are completely inaccurate. They are, however, incomplete and as such, partially inaccurate. The best definition that I have heard to date comes from the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) in the UK, that defines Marketing as:

“The management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably.”

Now, how we achieve all of the above is, of course, through the use of sales, advertising, the 4 P’s, etc., hence me saying that all of the earlier potential responses held partial truth. However if we take a very long, hard look at this definition, I would argue that it is very hard, if not impossible, to differentiate between this and any definition that we might be able to come up with to accurately describe customer experience.

Now there are some (possibly many) people who would argue that customer experience isn’t just about making a profit. Of course, there are many decisions taken from a customer experience perspective that have no short-term impact on the profit position. However could the same not be said for brand advertising too? If an organisation is carrying out customer experience practices, it aims to make the customer happy; and if the customer is happy, the longer they remain a customer; and the longer they remain a customer, the greater the amount of profit the company makes.

So why not call ‘Customer Experience’ Marketing instead then?

For years I worked in Marketing for a number of different organisations and when I told lay people what I did for a living, most of them thought I made adverts, or I was a salesman or did copy writing. Now, I have, of course, done all three of those things in my time, however as time evolved, my role naturally became more strategic in nature.

When I became an independent consultant, I found that describing myself as a marketer often gave people completely the wrong impression of what I was about and what it was that I wanted to do. The last few years of my career in corporate had been more focused on the customer experience/ retention/ loyalty end of marketing and I quickly came to realise that this was the best way to consider marketing – from the perspective of the customer – as per the CIM definition of Marketing.

Now, there are bound to be a few marketers and customer services professionals who may argue with this post, how I would ascertain that it’s because they might be looking at their role with too narrow a focus. Let battle commence… ;)