Mercedes-Benz, Other Brands Obsessed with Customer Experience

Brand Innovators capped off a busy week in Atlanta with an intimate three-hour marketing deep dive on the future of customer engagement. The central question as the program unfolded: how can brands leverage data to learn more about their customer so they can deliver the best possible experience?

Brand Innovators capped off a busy week in Atlanta with an intimate three-hour marketing deep dive on the future of customer engagement. The central question as the program unfolded: how can brands leverage data to learn more about their customer so they can deliver the best possible experience?

Our hosts for the day were the terrific team at Publicis Sapient and we were thrilled to catch up with some familiar marketing leaders from our Atlanta community. We were also excited to welcome first-timers Cartoon Network to the Brand Innovators fold.

Our emcee for the day was Danica Kombol, President of the Everywhere Agency. Kombol kept the energy level high and the room on its toes with a combination of personality and what she dubbed “knowledge bombs.”

Danica Kombol, President, Everywhere

Sara Spivey, Chief Marketing Officer of Braze, delivered an engaging opening keynote with a focus on “Communication in Context: Humanity in Action.” Spivey said Braze has created a “brand humanity index” as a sort of health check for brands. It includes four levers: emotional (how does a brand makes me feel?), natural (do they have the right tone?), considerate (do they know what time zone I’m in?) and personal (are they correctly tailoring content to me?).

Mercedes “Driven to Delight”
Mark Aikman, General Manager-Marketing & Digital Customer Experience for Mercedes-Benz and a long-time friend of BI, joined us for a fireside chat that ran the topical range from customer experience and brand transformation to how data can actually fuel emotion.

CX was front and center throughout Aikman’s talk as he referenced “Driven to Delight,” the program through which Mercedes-Benz transformed itself into a customer-obsessed organization. “Like many big brands, we had a lot of intermediaries between the headquarters that was building this great strategy and the front line that was actively engaging with customers.”

Cara Motowidlo, Director-Sales, Braze with Mark Aikman, General Manager-Marketing & Digital Customer Experience, Mercedes-Benz USA

Closing this gap was the objective of the company’s transformation. “Now we are the only luxury car manufacturer with a domestic call center,” Aikman said. “It’s on the ground floor of our building here in Atlanta. We have a team picking up phones, helping customers, answering roadside calls 24 hours a day. Hearing that voice of the customer is important.”

It’s Just Jamba
We were thrilled to hear from Shivram Vaideeswaran, Chief Marketing Officer for Jamba.

This was Vaideeswaran’s first time on a BI Atlanta stage but he has spoken many times at our events in Los Angeles. He explained how Jamba caters to customers in-store as well as how they are growing their loyalty program. Vaideeswaran also discussed the shift from the Jamba Juice name over to just Jamba. “We want to innovate as the definition of wellness continues to change.” As the brand approaches its 30-year anniversary, he said, its goal is to stay focused on that wellness journey even as the brand evolves.

Shivram Vaideeswaran, Chief Marketing Officer, Jamba with Zan Faruqui, Enterprise Sales Director-East, Braze

Moe’s and UPS: Focused on Customers
Jenny Williams, Marketing Director for Moe’s Southwest Grill, told the crowd about three areas of recent focus for the purveyor of healthy tacos: attention to core customers, being more irreverent on social media and striving to create more authentic content on Moe’s channels.


Jenny Williams, Marketing Director, Moe’s Southwest Grill

Jay Devassy, Sr. Manager-Global Customer Insights for UPS, graced a BI stage for the fourth time this year (could this be a record?), this time talking about a customer experience-focused thought leadership effort he’s been spearheading. Devassy delivered some marketing innovation insights, including how UPS creates a positive customer experience for consumers of different generations.

Lauren Kania, Senior Director-Accounts & Content, Brand Innovators with Jay Devassy, Sr. Manager-Global Customer Insights, UPS

Consumer Engagement and the Rise of Voice

What is consumer engagement beginning to look like as we move fully into the ”Hey Google”/Siri/Alexa era? Our final panel of the day–with senior marketers from The Coca-Cola Company, Kimberly-Clark Professional, Mercedes-Benz USA and Cartoon Network–grappled with the realities and opportunities. As we peer into the “crystal ball” of the future of marketing, it should surprise no one to learn that voice is set to play a central role.

Future of Consumer Engagement Panel (L-R): Danica Kombol, President, Everywhere; Ryan Johnson, Dept. Manager, Marketing Communications, Mercedes-Benz USA; Kimberly Massey, Global Marketing Leader, Kimberly-Clark Professional; Matthew Lehosit, Marketing Director, Cartoon Network; and Sarah Greenberg Sachs, Director, Coca-Cola Freestyle Marketing, The Coca-Cola Company

To learn more about this and other Brand Innovators events, go here.

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