Imagine this situation. Your company has asked you to investigate and recommend a new marketing technology. For the sake of conversation, let’s say a podcast hosting platform that will integrate with your website. You complete some initial research, talk with some colleagues, reach out to your LinkedIn network and identify a list of potential providers and some basic cost information. You make your recommendations and your leadership team gives you the green light to complete the due diligence and make a final recommendation. 

After the initial review, you narrow the list down to a select group you want to learn more about. You go to each provider’s website but there’s no real way to interact with your shortlist of providers. You send a few email messages to general mailboxes but the response is slow or not at all. There are no phone numbers on the sites or any chat options for the providers on your short list. Eventually, after more searching, you finally find some phone numbers. You call up the providers, but you cannot reach a person. In one case, there is voicemail and you leave a message. In the other, the message tells you the representative is away and will not be responding to voice mail for at least a week. You call back and are informed there’s no one else to talk with. 

In the age of the customer and the engagement economy, successful companies are customer-centric and proactive in how they address the customer experience. Today customer experience is a competitive differentiator for every company. A Gartner Customer Experience (CX) study declares: “Customer experience is the new marketing battlefront. More than two-thirds of marketers responding in the study indicated that their companies compete mostly on the basis of CX. And in two years’ time, 81% say they expect to be competing mostly or completely on the basis of CX.”  A study by VisionCritical claims that by 2020, the customer experience will overtake price and product quality as the key brand differentiator. 

Think about the above situation: The prospective buyer is frustrated. The prospective provider has potentially lost a long-term customer. Most people once they select a platform and complete the integration are unlikely to switch. As a potential provider, had you employed scenario analysis you might have been able to anticipate these types of experiences and put processes in place to avoid them. 

Are you ready for customer experience to be your differentiator? If so, then one valuable step is to tap the power of scenario analysis. 

Scenarios describe a set of possible events. They are powerful tools for understanding potential business situations, such as customer experience, and then developing appropriate strategies for each of them. The value of scenario creation is that it allows you to consider a range of possible outcomes and drivers of change. This is extremely helpful for improving customer experience. If you can anticipate a potential customer experience problem, you can modify your business process before the problem occurs and costs you a customer.

Scenario analysis focuses on analyzing possible future events. The use of scenarios by companies is not new. Companies have been employing the concept of scenario analysis since the 1970s, and it is an essential capability for any company invested in and aspiring to achieve agility. 

The fundamental ingredient for scenario analysis – whether to anticipate, plan and improve customer experience or some other aspect of the organization – is developing the scenarios. Creating scenarios is both art and science. The science side of the process requires data and timing information. Scenarios to support real-time marketing and customer experience can be created based on the answers to the following types of questions. 

  • What data can change regarding customers, the market, and the competition? By how much?
  • What data are predictive of a key prospect or customer behavior?
  • What data are essential for effectively engaging with customers and prospects?
  • What data are required to support a consistent cross-channel customer experience?

Imagination is all you really need to use scenario analysis. The goal is to create as many different combinations of potential events as you can conceive. Then, by analyzing each potential scenario, you can assess its likeliness to occur and decide what, if any, proactive action is necessary. Join my upcoming session at MarTech East in Boston to learn more about the principles of and process for creating and analyzing your scenarios, with a focus on using this approach to make the customer experience one of your competitive differentiators. 

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

VisionEdge Marketing, founded in 1999, and is recognized as one of the pioneers and authorities in the Marketing Performance Management (MPM) discipline. The company specializes in helping companies apply data, metrics and proven best-in-class practices to accelerate growth, create customer value and improve performance.
Laura and VisionEdge Marketing are all about making marketing an engine of growth for organizations. Martechexec selected Laura as one of the top 50 women in marketing technology. Laura is honored to be among the Top 20 Women in Business according to the Sales Lead Management Association. Engagio identified Laura among the top marketing operations leaders to know. Laura has served on the University of Texas McCombs School of Business Masters of Marketing Science Advisory Board.