Butting Heads: How to Align Marketing and CX Teams

By: Kate Zimmerman

June 29, 2016

Which two departments at your company interact with your customers the most? Arguably, marketing and customer experience are a pretty safe bet. However, both teams approach their customer interactions in conflicting ways that could ultimately hurt your customer’s overall experiences with your brand.

Marketing has a tendency to create customer segments and track them along a life cycle, while your CX team looks at personas along a journey. The terminology and use may be different, but the ultimate goal is the same. Aligning these two initiatives should foster cross functional work and ensure a seamless experience from end to end throughout your customer’s journey.

Customer Segments vs. Personas
Segments and personas need to be similar. Marketing is segmenting customers so that they can target their materials and communication channels appropriately, while the CX team is using personas to understand different buyer types and how they’re engaging with your brand. The distinction here is outbound vs. inbound. Marketing segments look at how you reach your customer while CX personas understand how your customer sees you. Collaborating together can help create a comprehensive 360-degree view of your customer and their full experience with your brand.

Customer Life Cycle vs. Customer Journey Map
The marketing team tends to look at these customer segments as part of the customer life cycle. The customer experience team defines this as a customer journey map. When looking at a life cycle, marketing’s main goal is the sale and possibly even repeat or expanded sale beyond that. The customer journey map is a bit more holistic and looks at the entire experience that the customer has with your brand, especially in between sale and renewal or repurchase. For example, a customer lifecycle may focus on customer acquisition as a stage while a customer journey map would focus on the research a company is doing around your brand or product.

While these customer life cycles and journey maps are more similar than segments and personas, different terminology can create confusion and silos. It can also create tension between your departments, which will quickly show through to your customers and harm their overall experience with your brand.

Marketing and customer experience departments need to work together to determine which processes and terminology work for your brand. The customer experience team can help the marketing team to understand which parts of their brand and company experiences are working and which ones aren’t. They can also share insights into what the customer likes about a brand or how they perceive a certain marketing campaign. This type of information can help inform and improve marketing activities. The marketing team can help the customer experience team have a better understanding of the market and what trends are important. Marketing can also share details on competitive intel, which helps the customer experience team in conversations with customers who want to churn.

Working Together
Both teams need to work in tandem throughout your organization. If two of the most customer-facing departments are at odds with each other, what’s to encourage your accounting team to make sure the billing cycle fits in, that your product team creates innovative solutions that meet customer desires, or that your HR department is hiring people that can foster a customer-first culture?

Creating a customer-centric organization won’t happen overnight. But aligning your customer-facing teams and the terminology they are using is an important step towards that goal. It may seem procedural, but we are sure that your customers will notice and appreciate the changes that are sure to come from it.


Kate Zimmerman is a Content Marketing Specialist at Clarabridge. Kate focuses on building content that supports CX efforts, product marketing, analyst relations, and has become an industry expert in Customer Experience Management. Kate holds a B.A in Politics from the University of Virginia and can be found on Twitter at @kmzimm.

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