Marketing-Led Customer Experience: What It Is and How It Can Benefit B2B Companies
Customer experience is incredibly important for your brand. Co-founder and CEO of DemandLab, Rhoan Morgan joins the AMP Up Your Digital Marketing podcast with Glenn Gaudet to discuss the importance of turning customer experience into a company-wide effort.
Traditionally, the B2B customer experience has been a siloed practice, an effort focused on by one or two teams. But in this episode, Rhoan Morgan is encouraging businesses to start using the marketing-led customer experience approach.
“What you’re doing is you’re using technology, data, and content to really engage with a company’s audience — but in a way that matters to the customer,” Rhoan says. Embracing the marketing-led customer experience approach requires cross-team collaboration and setting specific customer experience goals using relevant data.
Listen to the full episode or read the full transcription below:
Glenn Gaudet (00:02): This is AMP Up Your Digital Marketing. This podcast is designed for you, the modern marketer. Our host Glenn Gaudet interviews, intelligent, fun, and insightful marketing practitioners, allowing you to open up your own marketing aperture. Amp Up Your Digital Marketing is sponsored by GaggleAMP. Gaggleamp is the leading employee advocacy platform that empowers companies to align their employees with their digital marketing efforts.
Glenn Gaudet (00:27): Welcome back to the show. Today we’re speaking with Rhoan Morgan. Rhoan, welcome to the show.
Rhoan Morgan (00:32): Hello, Glenn. Thank you so much for having me.
Glenn Gaudet (00:35): Rhoan, could you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do?
Rhoan Morgan (00:39): Sure. So I’ve been in marketing for 25 plus years, and I have founded a company about 10 years ago, in 2009 called DemandLab. So it’s an agency that I launched to really respond to the impact of technology in marketing. So I’ve done a lot of non high-tech marketing, but as things were progressing and growing, really exciting opportunities to be able to really explore what technology and how it was impacting the work that I do, and the work that we do for our clients, ultimately to help bring customer obsession into tactical action. So my work now is actually really making sure that the team at DemandLab is supporting our clients, achieve their business goals around customer experience, around leveraging technology, leveraging data, and also content to do things like increase revenues at the end of the day.
Glenn Gaudet (01:34): So if we work backwards from customer experience, could you just define when you, when you think of customer experience or define customer experience, what would that be?
Rhoan Morgan (01:44): Sure. So customer experience has you know, it occurred to me as I was learning early days about customer experience and hearing this buzzword really develop, I thought, but wait, that’s what we’ve been doing all along. Right. And I think any good marketer probably is having the same thought, well, that’s what we care about. That’s why I’m here. So at DemandLab, we started very much around martech enablement, really ensuring that people, companies, our clients, were using platforms like Marketo or Salesforce and that sort of thing to drive a customer journey. It really ultimately bundles into what we now call the marketing-led customer experience. And for us, this is a new approach that really elevates marketing into the role of, we think about as the customer champion, a journey creator, and we even call them the experience innovator at times. So, you know, when marketing-led customer experience is really well implemented in an organization, we’re seeing that it’s optimizing every customer interaction, right? And it’s really pulling together what used to be a rather siloed process where customer experience was sort of owned by maybe too many different teams or organizations within a company. So what you’re doing in this is you’re using technology, data, and content, as I said a lit bit earlier, to really engage with a company’s audience, but in a way that matters to the customer. So to us, it’s sort of married with being highly customer-obsessed.
Glenn Gaudet (03:27): Do you see it ubiquitous between B2B and B2C or do you see real distinctions between the two?
Rhoan Morgan (03:33): I think that there are still distinctions, but I don’t think that there should be any distinctions. So it’s a great question, actually. So there are still distinctions because, the way I see it, I think that it really was born out of the B2C environment in the way that we look at it now and sort of experience it now, especially in the digital age, right? So digital marketing now there are dozens and dozens, if not hundreds of touchpoints, and you know, most of that is on multiple devices and that sort of thing. So the B2C side of the house was really innovating around this. You see these big giants, Amazon, Zappos, Apple, that sort of thing, really taking that and diving head-on into creating really spectacular customer experiences that were highly engaging and drove a lot of value for the customer, but also a lot of value for the business.
Rhoan Morgan (04:30): And I think that the B2B space was a bit slower actually in taking that on. And in a sense, the customer was expecting it, you know. The customer has really become accustomed to and expects to have a very fluid, very non-frictional sort of experience with whoever they’re engaging with, be it a B2C organization or a B2B. And at your work, you’re maybe a buyer within your organization and you’re reaching out to another company to purchase something. You need that to be just as easy as everything else that you’re doing right now. So I think expectations have really risen which are pushing the B2B organizations in this direction, which I think is fantastic.
Glenn Gaudet (05:15): So I think one of the challenges that many companies have is they have this bifurcated experience, right? So the experience of actually going through the buying journey to become a customer, and then once they become a customer, it’s a different experience. So I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that you think there should be some consistencies between them. How should companies start thinking about that?
Rhoan Morgan (05:38): Oh yeah, there has to be consistency between the two, you’re, of course, I think that you certainly are reading me very well during this conversation. I wear my heart on my sleeve, as they say, you know, loyalty is one of those. I don’t want to say it’s an afterthought because it isn’t. But too often, it’s not given enough attention, probably and even budget, you know, within organizations. So from loyalty then builds your champions and the people that are going to be your referral customers and really deepen the relationships that they have with the company that ultimately helps you to grow, right, your organization. They’re the ones that are coming in saying, yes, I believe in this company and I will help. I will support their efforts. You know, we believe in that. So, how do you bridge the two? It’s really ultimately about teamwork.
Rhoan Morgan (06:37): You know, we all have to be rowing in the same direction. We have to make sure that organizations are, you have the performance indicators that are all sort of ultimately bubbling up to the highest level. So from the top-down sort of vision, we have to know, okay, here are the 15 things we need to accomplish, or here are five ultimate business goals. And how does every single one of the individual teams within the organization impact these goals? So when you think about the organization, every single team member, every single team has to understand how they’re impacting the customer experience. They have to know how important it is that they’re playing a role. So an example might be accounting where accounting, who’s sending out invoices or, you know, that sort of thing. They might not feel like they’re really part of that customer experience division or workstream.
So when you think about the organization, every single team member, every single team has to understand how they’re impacting the customer experience.
Rhoan Morgan (07:38): But in fact, they absolutely should be, and they can be. And there’s some really exciting ways to pull every team member through a customer experience plan. So when you have somebody in accounting, who’s also dedicated to customer experience, they might be more aware of when to, you know, handle maybe a big client who is maybe late in payments, but they might, if they have the access to the insights within their ERP system or the CRM, they might see what’s going on in some other organizational functions so that they can say, well, how can I improve that experience? Maybe it’s not sending out an invoice at that particular time. Maybe they need to talk to somebody internally. So they also become much more integrated into the full organization. I think
Glenn Gaudet (08:30): So I think I see where this may be going because what I was thinking in the back of my head is marketing doesn’t necessarily control accounting. They don’t, they don’t control sales, they don’t control customer success or even support. So then how does marketing have that influence without the authority? And so it sounds to me that the direction that you’re recommending that marketing departments go is through data and through the education using the data, is that a good description of this?
Rhoan Morgan (09:03): Without a doubt, and, you know, the data flows through systems and those systems need to be integrated. And the challenge that a lot of companies, large and small have is the integration of those systems, and of course, and if they’re not, the data is all siloed. So certainly you have to have data and you have to be collecting the right data. You have to be putting the data into the right spots and sharing that information cross-functionally. And not only collecting it, but knowing how to then transform that data into something that is usable within the organization. So without a doubt, we are huge believers in data as a foundation of everything that we’re doing within marketing within an organization.
Glenn Gaudet (09:46): So is where this is going, that every company is going to have to have their own data warehouse? Because as we know, when it comes to the sales technology stack, the marketing technology stack, while the Nirvana is everything talks to everything else extremely well, in reality, that’s not always the case. So do we have to build this on our own?
Rhoan Morgan (10:11): I don’t think it necessarily has to be built on your own. There are a lot of platforms that can really support and pull data from a lot of different sources to support some of that decision making and insights. And it’s a data warehouse. It’s a master data management, sort of, discipline. It could be a data lake. So there are a lot of ways of approaching the data. In fact, we’ve actually built with a couple of clients who are in sort of a proof of concept stage what we call the data puddle. And, you know, it’s just sort of like, let’s collect one piece of that information that’s going to help you and see what we can build from there. And then we’ll start to create that little pond into the lake, right? And those are really exciting because there’s a great opportunity and aha moments, and there is some work behind it. And I do think you’re right, actually. And there are some limitations within platforms in terms of how long they’re holding onto the data, how long they can hold onto the data. There are also regulatory things that we need to consider in this as well. But ultimately I do think people or rather companies should be owning all of the data and they should have this within their company. Not necessarily just held inside of another platform. I do think you’re right.
Glenn Gaudet (11:29): I’m trying to get a sense of what you need to make this happen. I can certainly go to an agency like yours and try to leverage an external resource to help us build this. I could build it myself. At what point does this really make sense for the investment? Is it size of company? Is it revenue? How should we be looking at that?
Rhoan Morgan (11:54): That’s a great question. I do think that you have to look at your numbers. Again, we go back to data. Regardless of the size of the company. If you can collect even a few data points that help you identify the impact of a really impressive customer experience. So, you look at your baseline. If you’re taking three points or two points, whatever you have in the moment, and then add to that, what would you like to collect and how will you use that data, once you collect it, to improve your customer experience? There’s a little bit of analytics juice there that you need to bring in. Even if you’re small. I think you can start by looking at a few measures that you can tweak. You can correlate to revenue and to growth, and then tweak to grow revenue. And if you’re very large, obviously you’re going to have more budget to put towards this. So I don’t think that it has to be size-specific, I would hate if it was size-specific, because any company should be able to really deliver on an excellent customer experience.
Regardless of the size of the company, if you can collect even a few data points that help you identify the impact of a really impressive customer experience, you can correlate to revenue and to growth, and then tweak to grow revenue.
Glenn Gaudet (13:33): Most companies have a deluge of data, so they have a lot of potential noise. So in order for them to really start thinking about pulling some of these crumbs together, a lot of times it’s mixing the crumbs from different systems. So if I was starting from scratch, are there a few key things that I might, and I know it’s going to be different for every organization, but is there a way to think about going after that first few crumbs that can really just kind of turn on the light switch for me is certain areas of my business?
Rhoan Morgan (14:15): So top of mind for me is looking at some measures that everybody has, right, renewal rates, churn rates, sales cycle. So how quickly are your buyers moving through the sales cycle? Most businesses should have this, even if it’s on an Excel spreadsheet, you know. Our clients will typically have this inside of their ERPs and CRMs and that sort of thing.
Rhoan Morgan (14:40): So looking at these very assertive sort of microscopically looking, really putting them under the microscope and saying, okay, what is every process that might impact renewals? What touches that renewal process or find out why people are churning. So then once you’re able to sort of really dissect these measurement points and understand what’s impacting them, start making tweaks to those programs or those tactics, and really monitoring very tightly, those measure points, right? So if you’re looking at churn rates on a monthly basis, depending on your type of business or quarterly or annually, you know, that will change how you’re going to approach it. But I really do think that these are the top three for me, that I would sort of always start with, because I think that everybody should have them.
Glenn Gaudet (15:33): And do you find that most people have them in one silo so they can get that number in one silo? Or are they going to have to mix a couple of silos to get to those numbers?
Rhoan Morgan (15:46): I’m pretty sure a lot of companies are going to be mixing, even the really big ones. They’re going to find that that information is siloed for sure. You know, and things like, I know a big measurement to see, to really identify if your customer experience programs are really successful, are things like your customer satisfaction score. And you think about that, that’s always in another environment, you know, I mean, it should be in the same record as that customer, right? So you have a single customer record, but so often it is found in the platform that you’re using to measure your customer satisfaction. So it’s a lot to pull together.
Glenn Gaudet (16:24): Yeah. So when a company is actually doing this, a lot of times, they may not know where, especially if you’re in marketing, you don’t necessarily know all the data points that might exist in some of these other systems. How would you advise a marketer to go about in kind of bringing all these groups together to get some visibility, to even start making some recommendations on what data to pull in?
Rhoan Morgan (16:45): Great question. And I think, you know, the way that we think about it here is that we might say it’s a marketing-led customer experience, but it absolutely is a full company-wide initiative. And there are few things that are really critical about this. First, you have to have buy-in and real belief in this from the CEO. So that means putting it into the context that they can really understand or appreciate. Right. So how does it impact revenue acceleration, revenue growth, organizational growth? These are the things that they’re accountable for. And once you have the leadership of the organization and the CEO into the executive team, you know, you can sort of pull that through into the entire organization because you do have to have, I think buy-in from every level within an organization.
Glenn Gaudet (17:46): So Rhoan, if there was one thing our audience could put into action today to really have impact with their digital marketing, what would that one thing be?
Rhoan Morgan (17:50): You know, I’ll admit we talked about this a little bit earlier. And the first thing I thought about was to be the optimist, right? So this is much more theoretical though. You know, push the company forward, look at life and work through as though anything is possible and that sort of thing. But through the conversation changed my mind a little bit, although I think everybody should really work on that. But I would say, you know, kind of going back to what we were just touching on, look at the data, start with the data, because this is how you’re also going to be able to pull your leadership. So if you can start to ensure the data is collected, that it is accurate, which is critical because it has to be believable.
Rhoan Morgan (18:42): And then you can start to leverage that data, to identify where you can improve and how that will impact the growth of the company. Then you’re able to really build the argument for developing a larger sort of customer engagement initiative within the organization. You have to be able to start with that executive team, drive their belief in how important this is. From my perspective, you have to have real numbers behind everything you’re saying.
Look at the data, start with the data, because this is how you’re also going to be able to pull your leadership. So if you can start to ensure the data is collected, that it is accurate, which is critical because it has to be believable.
Glenn Gaudet (19:17): Rhoan, if people want to get in touch with you, what’s the best way to do that?
Rhoan Morgan (19:20): Sure. Listeners can find me on Twitter at @rhoanmorgan and LinkedIn by looking up DemandLab or searching for me on LinkedIn, first and last name.
Glenn Gaudet (19:33): Rhoan, thanks so much for being on the show today.
Rhoan Morgan (19:37): Sure. I’m really glad to have the opportunity to chat with you a bit and share a little bit of our thinking around customer experience.
Glenn Gaudet (19:46): Thanks for listening to amp up your digital marketing, sponsored by GaggleAMP. Do you have any questions or feedback about the show we’d love to hear from you just email firstname.lastname@example.org.