Design rewarding customer experiences

Michael (MJ) AllenMichael J. (MJ) Allen
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Apr 05

Did you know there is a close link between the degree of digital acumen that CMOs display and the financial performance of their business? A survey published by IBM shows that among over 4,000 CMO’s and c-levels surveyed, 43% financially outperformed their counterparts who are considered Digital Pacesetters.

Not all marketers are the same. Predominantly among the enterprise level there are 3 types of senior marketers among CMO’s and Marketing Directors. You have your Traditionalists, Social Strategists and your Digital Pacesetters.  Each one is on a different path to digital nirvana, but which one is on the right financial path?

There is a HUGE gap between c-level aspiration, and action. And differences in those who financially outperformed their counterparts in IBM’s survey is not academic.

The difference is the journey of experience and application in the digital world, among the speed at which you move in the evolving commercial landscape. There is a direct relationship between the speed of leadership, and the speed of your business or organization.

The attributes among these 43% that drove financial performance could be themed around emphasis on the customer experience at all points in the customer online journey. And at the root of this, it’s summed up to having the right Digital Pacesetters among their team of Traditionalist marketers who understand and deliver on…

  1. Using data analytics to get a much deeper understanding of the customer; individually as well as collectively.
  2. Designing rewarding customer experiences.
  3. Capitalizing on new technologies to provide those experiences in a smart way, and efficiently.

Most senior Digital marketers and CMO’s will agree, there has never been a time like before where a microscopic lens is needed on customer experiences. The market landscape has changed rapidly over the years for both BtoB and BtoC where the customer lifecycle (article: are customers killing your business?) has changed.

customer centricity focus in digital marketing

To many traditionalist marketers haven’t caught up to this epiphany yet, but sink or swim they will get pulled into the reality marketing has shifting from being just a cost-center, to now include it as a revenue-center. The need for outperforming in a marketers financial performance will be based on how will they can get hyper-personal with customers, and create experiences for them along their decision-making or buying journey.

In the digital world, never has businesses been forced into such transparency. Customers will move their business, and as a result of how digital channels can influence business growth….not to mention the transparency social media provides to keep business values and ethics firmly grounded.

The wealth of information and real-time access customers have on a business has divided the share of mind among the market, among the share of wallet in the competitive landscape.

The behaviors and actions customers take across the digital landscape, among available technologies, has also opened a new paradigm of getting to know the customer.

Customers are no longer just an account, or a profile. We can capture and understand their behaviour across multi-channels and touchpoints (article: influence conversions in multi-channel touchpoint), their firmographics and ultimately what makes them tick to influence their decision-making…and the profit of the business.

As a result of this pivot in how customers in both B2B and BtoC landscape conduct business, its created a compelling challenge to better define and understand the customer to deliver consistent positive experiences. And the goal should aim to accomplish this on the hyper-personal level.

The hyper-personal understanding of customers is a major aspiration among CMO’s today, which is probably why we see more and more marriages (or dates) between the CMO and CIO. Marry the marketing needs with the technology and data to drive value.

The reality today is there still exists a major gap or digital divide among both small businesses and enterprises to address the customer experience. Everything from UX-centered product design, data-driven insight, analytical and quantified marketing performance, and even brand.

Addressing these areas is just the beginning to deliver on the CMO’s aspiration of treating customers as individuals, to build stronger relationships with those customer via digital channels and make wiser decisions informed by hard evidence (think marketing sex with data).

The challenge among CMO’s and senior marketers is not necessarily the understanding of all of this, but the experience and know-how to accelerate this path to transformation. I endorse the fact that to accelerate the transformation among the right people, is exploitation of new technologies that focus on customer experiences, a solid understanding and usage of data and analytics, among other tools and teams to deliver automation in marketing across the entire customer journey.

Connecting the dots for marketers to accelerate the path to designing rewarding customer experiences in the digital space is not easy, especially in attempts to quantify it to calculate ROI across digital influence points of engagement). But the right small tribe of people within your business to own this area, and drive the change through test and learn methodologies is a great start.

So where do you start? At the forefront of connecting the dots begins with mapping the customer touch-points, and determining how to consistently connect each dot across channels to deliver the best customer experience.

Presumably many CMO’s and senior marketers have placed too much emphasis on social media to deliver the customer experience. The realization of their investments into social over the years has finally come to light to stop attempting to tame social. Between monitoring brand voice, and a realization that social monetization has dropped in priority (and right so!), the epiphany has shaped marketers priorities to embed social as a channel in the overall customer experience.

It’s important to understand that the big picture of designing rewarding experiences for customers isn’t a social strategy effort.  The value in social is finally being realized as a means for positioning and a customer engagement channel or tools for building awareness and forging connections, among monitoring brand voice. Monetization – while some businesses can, it’s among the lowest against other digital channels as Search and Email.

Creating a transparent supply chain and managing customer relationships through designing rewarding experiences should be the pre-occupation among businesses today. Just think how the customer lifecycle has changed, and how you can create value for your customers at every step on their customer journey. And again – don’t just think “social”!

creating customer experiences within the customer lifecycle

The customer has a voice. And only when you have the appropriate tools to facilitate or listen, and support to take action, can the customers voice be heard. Relinquish control of the brand to listen. Do you do that today?

In order to get to there; look at your digital marketing framework to determine if you have the infrastructure in place to extract those actionable customer insights. Know what data you have available (and don’t have) and integrate this with the intelligence from other sources (ex. hook the website experience into your CRM). It’s the first step in constructing a customer-centric and customer-activated business culture, and it starts by embedding analytics into your day-to-day routine.

Next, pop open the hood to map the customer lifecycle and the customer journey among each stage, and begin testing your designs of customer experience. But before you do, absolutely ensure you make the experiences quantified. An understanding of what works, and didn’t work, is how you’ll formulate the most rewarding experiences for customers, and cementing the relationship with your customer even stronger.

Don’t just think about closing the transaction, focus on the relationship. You do the same today in your personal love lives, so why wouldn’t you do it in business…after all, your customer is not a brand or a number. He or she is you.

Those CMO’s or Digital marketing directors or whoever is at a level of influence in your business to drive digital, will find that the Digital Pacesetter, by contrast to the Traditionalist and Social Strategist, is much farther down the road to digital nirvana and financial outperformance.

But in the end, like your customers, not all businesses are created the same. The power resides with those who have the capability to actively put the resources required to operate as a fully integrated digital enterprise, and regularly uses analytics (advanced analytics) to generate insights from customer data.

The digital landscape is a living and breathing eco-system.  If you’re to be a big fish in this pond and own your eco-system, then you must bring the experience and know-how to survive. Without this, the eco-system will reject you, and accept the next big fish behind you waiting to take your place.

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