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To help marketing, growth, and engagement teams see their work from a new perspective, Braze has partnered with Tom Fishburne, CEO and founder of Marketoonist, for a 10-part series of marketing-themed comics. This week, hear from Braze CRO Daniel Head on how to know when customer success calls for a change of course.

To help marketing, growth, and engagement teams see their work from a new perspective, Braze has partnered with Tom Fishburne, CEO and founder of Marketoonist, for a 10-part series of marketing-themed comics.

Each week, we’ll share a Marketoon exploring a different aspect of the customer engagement landscape—and hear a thoughtful response from a Braze employee based on their own experiences and insights.

This week, we hear from Braze Chief Revenue Officer Daniel Head on how to know when customer success calls for a change of course.

Ah, the sunk-cost fallacy. While our friend pictured here is unpleasantly “engaged” on the rack, surely plotting his escape to a less painful, more modern customer experience provided by an alternative brand, the marketers beside him seem ready to double down on a tool that will, over time, drive all their customers away.

I’ve seen this kind of counterproductive behavior from companies large and small, and I think I can predict what might happen next. Imagine the business as a ship sailing through uncharted waters, the crew sticking fast to a course plotted long ago. No one wants to rock the boat with a change of direction...even as shallow water (declining customer engagement) and dark clouds on the horizon (disruptor competitors and category killers) threaten the ship’s successful journey.

Until, that is, a new captain arrives (welcome aboard, new CEO or CMO or CCO!) and issues an immediate turn-around order. You see, it’s not only financial sunk costs at stake when changing systems; often, there are also political consequences. Maybe the previous leader’s personal brand was enhanced by opportunities that “rack” vendor provided, like a prestigious speaking engagement at a glamorous annual conference. Questioning the system under the old regime might have had unintended consequences for the leader...or the questioner.

On the other hand, sometimes the business simply hits bottom: Engagement and sales numbers fall too far to ignore, and course correction begins. If too many customers have been lost to the rack, however, it could be too little, too late—and the ship may end up sailing into the abyss anyway.

Ideally, some bold change agent on the crew recognizes that customers are suffering (those torture racks in the hold!) and knows that there’s a better way. It takes courage to acknowledge that existing legacy tools—whatever their cost—are simply not fit for the purpose of providing relevant, data-driven communication at scale. Obsolete technologies, built for yesterday’s channel-siloed world, are riddled with latency, complexity, and scale limitations…each flaw representing another turn on the wheel of that customer torture rack.

I’ve been on that rack, metaphorically speaking. Legacy tech is responsible for my own non-optimal customer experience of dropping an interesting pair of shoes in my cart on mobile during the morning commute, popping out at lunch and buying the shoes in store, and then getting an abandoned cart email that afternoon...for the same shoes I bought at lunch.

Alleviate your customers’ pain with an open, flexible technology ecosystem. Why scuttle your ship by running aground on sunk costs? It’s never too late to shift course to sail into a brighter future.

Daniel Head

Dan established Braze’s European business in 2016 and is currently the company’s Chief Revenue Officer. Based in London, Dan has over 20 years of experience in Enterprise software and holds a BEng (Hons) in Manufacturing Systems Engineering and Business Studies from Coventry University.