How marketing can be more effective with a fulfilling customer experience
Given a chief marketing officer's to-do list—brand building, demand generation, employee communications, crisis management—it's counterintuitive to add additional responsibilities. But that’s what Mika Yamamoto insisted on when she took the dual roles of CMO and chief experience officer at F5 Networks—an application services company with more than 5,300 employees in 43 countries and many Fortune 500 clients—one year ago.
Realizing that marketing is more effective with a fulfilling customer experience, Yamamoto—whose background includes GM and strategy positions—leapt at the chance to bring both roles together. For Yamamoto, the organizational challenge boils down to whether an activity removes friction or adds delight. And one of the strategies to managing her double duties has been radically simplifying measurement.
Why is it beneficial for a CMO to be CXO too?
The advantage of having a function that looks at customer experience across the board is that it lets you see the benefits and tradeoffs of investing in one area versus another. Often, when you solve something in an individual function, it causes a roadblock down the way. So unless we look end-to-end, we may be inadvertently causing more harm than good. Also, all companies, regardless of their profit margins, have finite resources—time, people, money—so you should do fewer things better. That's a notion of simplicity, doing fewer things better lends to simpler ways and focus.
What’s your approach to B2B customers?
Our role is to make things simpler for people and, in doing so, provide delight. Even if we're talking about a B2B instance of engaging with a customer, human beings are at the other end of those products who are inspired by the simplicity of an application or its heartfelt message. It has been something that I've driven a lot of in former roles, saying, “Let's boil this down, look end-to-end, and think about whether we're complicating things or adding delight.” The flip side is you're complicating things and making people sad.
How do you measure customer satisfaction?
Customer Effort Score—the amount of effort a customer exerts to, for instance, fulfill a request—is a point-in-time score that’s a very simple way to get more engagement and feedback. If you take a step back as a B2B company, you want more of your customers to tell you how they feel. Surveys are onerous, but if you can make it simple and meaningful—during or after moments that matter—you can gauge a general sentiment. In the case of net promoter scores, a 200-point scoring mechanism that takes a long time to administer to very small sample sizes is great for certain things. But a Customer Effort Score during moments that matter allows you to get a very quick pulse of how your customers feel in the moment, then dive in and actually improve those moments in a very agile fashion.
Did you make any internal changes?
We’ve decided to have a finite set of metrics where everyone is beholden to five key objectives or goals. Every single person on the team, contractors included, have subgoals that ladder up to the broader goals. You typically see B2B organizations, especially ones that have been around for 15 to 20 years, take a very traditional stance on marketing: Marketing helps with pictures, fonts, and logos, but doesn't add value from a business standpoint—so show me the numbers. Building trust is required to make sure that the opportunities we create are opportunities at the business. We have metrics that show how we brought this opportunity in, how it closed, and its value.
How has this helped achieve sales and marketing alignment?
I would rather lay claim to three things than 3.1 million things. I want to be able to say that, if we hadn't existed, they wouldn't have been delivered. That is true incremental value. That’s where we’re placing a lot of our emphasis—on the marketing sourced pipe and the shared number for opportunity we create. There's recognition in the company that the influenced component from a marketing standpoint does add value, but we're not going to put that on a financial metric. We drive that as marketers, but we really focus on the marketing sourced pipe, making sure that if it's created and handed over to sales that something's going to be done with it in a timely manner.
How do you test these non-traditional approaches to business?
It seems counterintuitive, but we’ve got a coalition of the willing working on a certain initiative right now. We’re testing this theory where, if we use data with 14 sellers to more effectively predict where they should focus their accounts, then they will close deals faster and those deals will be bigger. When you start to see, as a seller, other people around you that are, like you, retiring quota faster, getting to club faster, and closing bigger deals, that becomes a massive motivator to be interested in what they’re doing. That’s an instance where we could have forced everybody to drive these data-driven approaches or taken 14 people to do it among hundreds. I think, in the end, we’ll end up seeing bigger impact and bigger uptake of these approaches by having started small and going big.