Mark Greatrex is the executive vice president, chief marketing and sales officer at Cox Communications. Greatrex’s impressive career includes more than 25 years of marketing for consumer brands at companies such as Coca-Cola and AOL. He discusses in this Q&A the evolving role marketing plays in creating a positive customer experience.
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This is the first time in Cox’s history to appoint a marketing and sales officer to EVP. Do you feel that this is indicative of the pivotal role marketing plays in successfully navigating a company through a disruptive time or are marketing and sales now more crucial than ever to a company’s success?
I think both are factors. In recent years we have looked to marketing to help shape the future of the company in partnership with strategy, technology and product management. The marketing and brand teams bring a consumer-centric approach to developing relevant innovations and compelling value propositions. Together, marketing and sales drive customer growth and the topline.
We have built excellence in both functions and have developed a performance culture together. Our go-to-market approach is interdependent, so it is absolutely necessary that sales and marketing are connected at the hip.
Cox has led the Gigabit residential Internet market. What’s been the consumer reaction to Gigablast? Any takeaways or key learnings from the multimarket launches?
Gigablast has sparked the passion and imagination of our broadband customers and prompted new sign-ups. We’re live with the service in 10 states now, and the response has been incredibly positive.
Customers want to know that we’re innovating, investing and planning for the future. I think the consumer response to Gigablast underscores that the cable industry can still inspire optimism and deliver exciting innovations to the market that “wow” our customers.
Cox is launching the next generation of its Contour video product, which runs on the Comcast X1. How is that going?
Our most loyal and happy video customers use our Contour service, and it was time to evolve it with new capabilities. The X1 platform offered a great way to quickly enable future upgrades. At [the] launch in San Diego, Calif., we provided new predictive search capabilities and voice activated remote control. Seventy percent of respondents to our initial research say the new Contour service improves their perception of Cox, and 74% say they are very likely to recommend.
All markets have access to the second screen app today, and we’re expanding the new version of the Contour guide for the primary screen to all Cox markets this year. Comcast has been an excellent partner as we migrate to this new video platform, and they are proactively helping us accelerate the learning curve.
There’s a lot of talk about customer centricity. What have you done at Cox to enhance or change a customer’s journey, and what have you learned in doing so?
We’ve spent a lot of time developing a holistic view of the customer experience from their perspective. They don’t see marketing, sales, billing [or] installation as separate departments or functions, and we have much tighter alignment internally on all areas that touch the customer.
I’m a virtual member of the field operations team, and customer care is a member of the marketing team. We all share the goal of creating a great experience for the customer. A key lesson for us has been that we need to look at the experience through the customer lens and validate our intuition on what they actually value. The consumer research insights can be eye-opening and challenging of conventional wisdom.
Is TV Everywhere an extension of your customer-centric approach?
Our research highlights that TV Everywhere can create a lot of value in a pay-TV subscription for key target audiences. We see growth in unique users driven particularly by major content events. Consumers are asking for an easier user interface and for more on-the-go content. As an industry we need to lean into providing solutions on both fronts.
Is home security and automation becoming the fourth product in the cable bundle?
We saw incredible growth of Homelife subscribers in 2015, and we expect it to continue. I think Homelife is resonating with customers because it is taking something they have in place – broadband – and making their life easier and safer by automating home management and helping them more easily check-in, connect and monitor precious possessions and people.