In your organization, does marketing have a seat at the table when financial, product, or other management decisions are made? Two recent personal experiences make it clear to me that in many organizations, decisions are either made without input from the marketing team or are made despite a marketing team’s ideas. Organizations should realize that marketing is a team sport.
The Business of Medicine
I recently asked my doctor to combine two outpatient procedures into one appointment. His scheduler said he wouldn’t do so. I noted that my last doctor had been willing to do this for me and that doing so saved me a missed day of work and saved my wife a lot of time having to drive me around. (No driving after anesthesia.)
The scheduler talked a good game: There was increased risk with a longer procedure. That’s why the doctor wouldn’t do two procedures together.
A quick web search turned up all sorts of studies disproving this, as well as some interesting chat room conversations between doctors debating the issue. The bottom line was, well, their bottom line: Insurance companies reimburse at a much lower rate for one combined procedure than for two separate appointments. I can only think that money was what motivated my doctor’s position.
The financial difference to the practice is not insignificant, but for an organization that probably bills more than $2 million a year, is $1,200 worth the negative word of mouth I’ve spread since my experience?
Of course, it’s likely the case that a small medical practice won’t even have a marketing team. So this decision may have been made without anyone thinking from a patient’s — that is, a client’s — perspective.
Penny Wise, Pound Foolish
DirecTV, on the other hand, most certainly does have a marketing department. I sure hope they weren’t consulting on the decision to withhold refunds from cancelling customers for four months — and then pay that refund via gift card, “for your convenience.”
My guess is that a number-cruncher somewhere realized how much they could make with this petty idea. And though I don’t know for a fact that the marketing team didn’t sign off on the decision, my guess is that the accounting department didn’t even consider how this interaction would make customers feel.
Every Touchpoint is a Marketing Touchpoint
The question for marketers is, “Why aren’t we more involved in these decisions?”
It doesn’t take much searching to find other instances like this, both in the B2C and B2B worlds. It’s critical for your entire team to realize that every touchpoint is a part of the client’s buying experience, even post-sale. That makes every touchpoint a part of your sales and marketing process.
Can You Put a Value on Customer Experience?
You may not win every battle when it comes to customer experience vs. efficiency, but marketing should at least be a part of the discussion. And you should be pressing for testing that can verify whether the efficiency is coming at too high a price. However you measure customer satisfaction, make sure it includes testing of the kind of policies that elicit complaints from clients.
Above all, don’t let these decisions force you to play your prospects and customers for fools. They’re not. They know how to use a search engine. They’ve seen the same tricks before from other myopic organizations. Consider interviewing customer service teams to find what policies make your customers miserable.
Marketing won’t get far without a great product to sell. It won’t fare much better without a great customer experience, too.