SAP's Marketing Chief on today's customer experience gap

"Consumers are using emotions more and more to drive purchasing decisions than ever before."

All experiences are not created equal, according to Alicia Tillman, CMO of SAP. In fact, 80 percent of CEOs today believe their brands deliver an exceptional customer experience; however, only 8 percent of customers agree with that.

This problem, which Tillman refers to as the "experience gap," is a $40 billion addressable market that should help create a new industry sector called "experience management."

"In a recent study of 1,400 ad campaigns, those with purely emotional content performed twice as well as those with only rational content," said Tillman on stage at the ANA Masters of Marketing conference in Orlando on Thursday.

She added: "Couple that today with that fact that we live in an experience economy and what that means is business is won or lost based on the experience we deliver to our customers."

Because purchasing decisions are becoming increasingly based on feelings, Tillman said brands must understand those emotions and do so in order to create experiences before servicing customers, rather than reacting afterwards.

"We need the data to understand the feelings of buyers to drive the necessary creative interaction relevant to that," she said. "That is art and science."

Two decades ago, the top 10 brands that were considered the most valued to consumers were household brands because they were relatable and dependable. Today, many of the top 10 most valued brands are in the tech sector.

This trend, Tillman said, is being caused by a shift in consumer buyer habits, which is driven by higher expectations, having too many choices, trust waning and choice overload.

"We have to recognize that technology is an enabler [in customer experience]," said Tillman.

The marketing chief wrapped her session with tips on how to connect with customers on a deeper level because "those that win hearts and minds will prevail."

Tillman’s tips:
1)   Shared mission and values
2)   Get to know clients in a transparent way
3)   Be human and show empathy4)   Use creativity to power the experience of today’s most valuable brands
5)   Be inclusive

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