By Catrina Logan Boisson,  director, Customer Communication Services, Xerox

Forget the all too familiar funnel, or Seth Godin’s megaphone or even, dare I say, the latest versions of the customer journey from McKinsey  and Forrester. When I visualize today’s marketing process, I see a rock climbing wall: We all want to help our customers get to the top, but there are a multitude of pathways they can take.

Here’s how it works: If we make it easy for our customers, providing handholds and footholds along the way that take into account their climbing experience (and aversion or appetite for risk), then they will ascend to the summit in record time and become good customers and great advocates.6 Silo-Busting Ideas That Connect Operations to  Marketing Strategy

Put too much distance between handholds or make it too dangerous, too inconvenient or just plain counter-intuitive, and they are more likely to rappel down than keep climbing.  And if that foothold you provide looks stable, but turns out to be less than secure, the lapse in trust from just one poorly timed misstep is likely to lose them forever.

This exercise forces you to think not just like chief marketing officer, but also like a chief customer officer and chief experience officer.

The reality of any organization is that marketing cannot control every touch point our customers encounter along the way, but if we don’t at least influence or get involved in the entire journey, then the work we do to convince a prospect to take the first step is wasted.

Marketers must reach across their organizations to ensure that the footholds and handholds managed by customer service, sales, call center, point of sale, and operations are laid out with the customers in mind, not the needs of our own organizational silos.

What does that mean, practically speaking?  It means making sure that:

  1. Your bill statement inspires action (pay this amount by this date); not confusion (what do I owe?)
  2. Your in-store shelf-tags are  in sync with the Sunday circular.
  3. Sales teams and product marketers are armed with tools that make it easy to create collateral that is both on target and on brand.
  4. Call center agents not only know what promotions you’re offering, they can actually access the mailer your customers are holding in their hands.
  5. Your website knows whether your customer already owns the product being upsold at checkout.
  6. Customer service can tap into and easily join the conversation customers are having about your brand on social media.

Easier said than done?  Definitely.  Worth the effort?  I’ll race you to the top.

 

This post originally appeared on Forbes.