This blog is about the battleground for competitive advantage, the real prize of customer engagement, and how Marketers can join and win this battle.

As the battle lines are being drawn-up we’re alluding to Star Wars: Rogue ONE, which described: “In a time of conflict, a group of unlikely heroes band together on a mission…This key event…brings together ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things, and in doing so, become part of something greater than themselves.”

If we were looking to Yoda for advice, he would say: “The battleground for competitive advantage, customer experience is.”

Customer expectations are changing. Customers in 2017 expect brands to deliver service and value in any channel, irrespective of the channel or what kind of industry or product your brand represents. As customer expectations change a new commercial prize is becoming clear. Customer Experience is the battleground for competitive advantage, where customers will be won or lost.

Bain & Company recently wrote about how this is happening in the Utilities and industrial manufacturing industries. However, the challenge they summarise applies to every brand: “Many executives do not know who their best customers are, what it costs to serve them or how well satisfied these customers are. By bringing those facts into focus, companies can improve customer experience and loyalty, unlocking new value.”

The customer experience battle, how will you win?        

Firstly, Marketers will become accountable for the end-to-end customer experience. The Marketing role will move beyond traditional campaign marketing. Marketers will be measured on customer retention, engagement, and Lifetime Customer Value, in fact any customer metric, not just sales and customer acquisition. Campaigns will become invitations to longer term relationships.

Secondly, Marketers will become far more engaged in Customer Journeys, using real-time journey analytics to really understand their customers’ behaviour, needs and preferences.

Also, Marketers will switch to using real-time hyper-personalisation. We’re not talking about the ‘Hi Dave’ (aren’t we clever, we used your name, see what we did there) type of personalisation. We’re talking about very subtle, real-time moment-by-moment personalisation at every point of interaction in any channel. Battle-winning personalisation isn’t a slap-in-your-face obvious, or creepy-spooky application, it’s simply customers feeling at every point the brand understands them well enough to always make the experience relevant and adding more and more value every time. Marketers can deliver ‘uber moments’, delivering real-time value with every interaction.

Ultimately in order to achieve this Marketers will need to switch into having a new skill: Engagement Marketing, where Marketers are able to invite customers into an ongoing conversation and engage those individuals in a progressively more personal, valuable relationship.

Who won the battle in Rogue ONE? No spoilers here. But who won the customer experience battle for customer engagement? Spoiler Alert: Trail-blazing marketers who kept their eyes on the real prize of customer engagement during 2017.

This isn’t happening in a galaxy far, far away. The battle has come to your brand. You have to choose sides, so make sure it’s the same one as your customers.

May the Force Be With You.

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