You see the headlines everywhere – 2016 will be the year of customer experience; marketers need to make customer experience count; millennials demand an authentic customer experience. The bottom line is the stakes have never been higher in today’s modern, connected world. Every second of the business-to-customer interaction represents a key moment of opportunity and truth, each step carrying the potential to make or break that relationship, and ultimately your business. And, it all comes down to experience.
Recently, my company conducted a survey on customer service to better understand how well businesses in service-centric industries like banking and telco believe they serve their customers compared to what customers are actually experiencing. The survey revealed, among other things that 66 percent of companies think they deeply know their customers, but only 34 percent of consumers agree with them. Even worse, more than a quarter of customers feel that the companies they rely on do not know them at all. Clearly a significant gap exists.
However, most marketing departments aren’t equipped to bridge this gap by themselves. While the headlines may point to the short attention span of the millennial or the constant expansion of the tools within the digital era as the scapegoat for subpar customer experience, successful brands know that a positive experience only occurs when marketing and sales work closely with IT to drive strategy at a very high level.
New business models, created in the latest evolution in technology and fueled by huge quantities of data and delivery models, have complicated the method by which customers interact with businesses. One-size-fits all marketing fails to understand unique consumer behavior and is often rewarded with desertion. It is not always the easiest route, but the only way to drive digital transformation is to strive for a truly hybrid approach to marketing with full backing from the IT department.
The smartest companies, those that recognize that IT and marketing must evolve and take steps to do so, have had success transforming into customer centric organizations. Most importantly, these marketing professionals are relying on data and digital technology to drive customer engagement for fear of being left behind competition. Running parallel to these efforts must be the ability of IT to provide a single-view of the customer that connects the back office to the front. These efforts uncover meaningful data with the power to turn a first-time visitor into a long-time brand loyalist.
So, if you find yourself at the intersection of IT and marketing, with a declining amount of repeat customers and a depleted list of brand loyalists, pause and ask yourself these questions: Can I adapt quickly enough to changes in customer demand? Am I able to deliver a consistent, personalized experience to all of my customers across all platforms and channels that they exist on? Am I anticipating my customer’s present and future needs, and do I have this historical data analyzed? Are my colleagues in other departments even working from the same single version of the customer truth? If so, are we confident in our recommendations?
If you answered yes to all the above, congratulations – you have one happy customer base. If not, consider the benefits of creating a business strategy that merges IT and marketing priorities in favor of the customer:
- Business users will be able to easily understand customer data and derive actionable insights
- A single, accurate view of the customer will allow marketing to break free of siloed operation
- Scalability and flexibility will position your company to change as quickly as your customers’ preferences
- Complexity inherent to multichannel marketing can be reduced
- Customers are routed to the right place, and quickly
- Customer service agents can anticipate vs. react, saving time
- Delivery models become easily customizable, allowing applications to run in the cloud or on-premises
Simply put, all the big data in the world can’t predict the role of the CMO of the future, but we know it will most certainly involve ubiquitous application of analytics, content strategy and digital expertise. Our customers are getting smarter and asking more from us, seeking the customer experience they’ve always deserved. We should be doing the same of our IT and marketing functions.
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