Re-invent CX to shift your business

Michael (MJ) AllenMichael J. (MJ) Allen
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Nov 07

How has the marriage of big data and the CX (customer experience) evolved the relationship between your business and customers?

Disruptive leaders and trail blazers tend to have a common success trait – grow and re-invent business maturity by embedding CX at the root of almost all things business.

The CMO’s and CTO’s behind these leading businesses have a keen sense to look at the halo of data available across the business, and its underpinning link that drives the evolution in business and marketing transformation.

Showcasing real-world results driven from digital transformation and reinvention, look no further than Virgin, Vodafone, Proctor & Gamble and even Netflix. All have a common understanding that market disruption is necessary to sustain and build market growth, and to do so takes transformation in the business culture to a digital-first and experimental mindset.

Legacy cultures that lack this mindset-shift, deal with greater friction and internal struggles to make change and gain organizational support that is necessary to react, and anticipate the CX.

This cultural digital-first change is at the core of CX, and while often challenging to achieve, it is necessary to make both incremental and pivotal shifts in the customer experience across the customer journey.

CMO’s and marketers who make this shift deal with a key question about how quickly they can make this change to achieve an optimum CX, as this cultural mindset also defines the speed in which the business can move to anticipate and lead the CX in highly-competitive and constantly evolving markets.

“Prior to my current position, we had a primary focus on Fortune 1000 companies where reacting quickly to customers experience, or lack-there-of, is paramount to keeping them, said Michael Cochrane, VP of Sales and Channel Development of LayerX.

Michael continued, “Google Analytics enabled our clients to view the specific data points required to make this possible; how long a customer was in their app, which pages they stayed on the longest and frequency just to name a few. This information was invaluable, however you must be able to understand what it all means, and what to do with it to enhance the customer experience.”

When I asked Michael how Social played a part in the CX, he continued “…social media data has also become increasingly more relevant. If your business can react quickly to an unhappy customer who has vented via a social medium such as twitter, you have the opportunity of turning this customer into a spokes person. If they are unhappy enough to complain 9/10 times they will also praise you for “making it right!” This being said you need to receive this type of data real-time for it to make a difference and act upon it “now”.

The beauty of a digital-first mindset is that it places an unbiased, and often non-argumental understanding, that data can guide insights that collectively most can buy-into. And if this becomes a bedrock within the business culture, do business leaders soon realize all the data sources available that were previously unrealized and untapped across the business.

With this realization, marketers who can bridge these data sources will tell a completely new customer story and provide new perspectives that can inform and evolve a businesses CX, product pivots, and bottom line impact.

Does it work?

Think of brands with a reliance on data that is so deeply ingrained in business culture it has been the springboard to reinvent themselves, or evolve the business to market leader status.

To name a few…John Deere, Dell, Apple, and even Netflix all have evolved a new breed of marketer who realizes this power and capability to provide deep insights into the customer and CX (many via a deep content strategy), share and action these insights across the business to drive change.

This cultural mindset is the disruptive DNA that gives businesses the nirvana factor to differentiate themselves from competition the eyes of the customer, allowing to become extremely nibble and agile to immediately spot insights into trends and adjust direction quickly.

Google has a strong model of CX at its root, who could be the mentor to many of a customer-focused and data-driven mentality. The simplicity and speed they can deliver to exceed customer expectations is even mirrored by successful startups as Uber.

The dramatic shift of how CX has evolved the consumer buyer journey has been driven primarily by data and technology. Even decades old industries have been pulled through this shift; think how the car buying process, a previously asymmetrical buying process has now completely 180’d the buyer journey and business process.

CMO’s adapting to this shift do so by integrating technology stacks that not only enhance business process, but change the composition of marketing departments.

This leaves the CMO’s with a greater challenge of finding marketers who are well adversed in how to use a myriad of technologies and platforms to segment, reach and track prospect and customer behaviour across the web and omni-channels.

Call these people marketing technologists, whether it be specialists in strategy, or execution across technologies that bridge the digital maturity model, such as:

  • Content Management Solution (CMS) for centralizing website content publishing or customer extranets.
  • Data Management Platform (DMP) as BlueKai, or other big data platforms that aggregate and centralize multiple data sources for push/pull channel strategies.
  • Marketing Automation (ex. Eloqua, Marketo) or ESP’s as (Exact Target)
  • Web Analytics (ex. Adobe Analytics / Omniture Site Catalysts)
  • CRM (SalesForce, Goldmine, Infusionsoft), etc.

There are plenty of technologies and platforms to help deliver a consistent, personalized and impactful omni-channel experience, but at the root of your technology eco-system is dependent upon the understanding of your customer experience.

“Start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology.” – Steve Jobs

Google is nearly a perfect example of a customer-focused, data-driven company, with one of its core tenets; “Focus on the user and all else will follow”. Googles simplicity and speed make the search experience a pleasure for its customers, and shows customers a model how to design a rewarding customer experience.

As a result, Google revolutionized the buyer journey, eliminating initial discovery and information gathering steps traditionally performed by the sales person. This was one step forward in de-emphasizing the role of the salesperson and demand generation teams.

Step one was the rise of contextual content, and step 2 was social media.

The combination of both Search and Social has now dramatically disrupted and evolved the buyer journey for almost all businesses.

And all of this started with marrying data across the business (even marketing) to deliver a better customer experience (CX).

Your business is not Google (if it is, call me). But you can learn from them as they had many failed attempts and experiments along the way to build a better business with CX at the forefront.

In your business, the marketing technologists and disciplines to bridge IT and marketing are at the forefront of disrupting and evolving you business CX.

All of the interactions and touch-points that marketing has with prospective customer, are orchestrated through technology. And the custom-centric nature of these technologies goes far beyond traditional marketing.

Businesses have found these marketing technologists are the connective tissue to bridge cross functional-teams, as they play a pivotal role in the business operating system with the organization as a whole. The value delivered connects into sales, connects into customer service and connects into how products evolve and services are delivered.

So how do you bridge the marketing and IT gap?

Every organization probably has one or two (or more) undiscovered marketing technologists already. Steering these marketing technologist, creating digital tribes around them for a centralized governing authority, is what organizations are finding the need for and giving rise to a Chief Marketing Technologist (or a CIO of the marketing department).

A Gartner study by Laura Mclellan found that 81% of large companies have a chief marketing technologist on staff, but not realized or under utilized.

For those at the beginnings of this digital-data-driven-CX-mindset-journey, be aware of the typical problems realized by organizations who quickly drink the koolaid of technology vaporware to solve CX problems and jump head first into investing heavily into the technology. Soon after its realized they cannot reap its rewards and wrap it up to a failed business fit.

Truth-be-told, there are two symptoms of this failure.

1. The lack of strategic alignment or understanding of the customer experience, and know-how to synthesize technology into strategy and operations, or

2. Having strategy drive the technology-fit (a good thing), but lack the operations to support the application of the technology to reap the brilliance it can deliver for the business and marketing.

And herein is the sweet spot. Find and build the best tribes of marketing technologists within the business culture, and bridging the marketing technology stacks (with IT) to help everyone collaborate more effectively.

I’m first to admit its easy to say that marketing and IT must work together, but far harder to do.

A strong CTO or CMO technologist will see the barriers to this, such as the pace of operations and the speed in which both can operate.

The speed of both is crucial, since by the time one stops the other to think about it a little to long, they’ve missed the opportunity to participate in the CX.

A common understanding between both is that if you fail, fail fast and move on, since the risk of not participating in the CX is higher than the risk of making a mistake. The relationship between marketing and IT (and sales) and its technologies has to be balanced and lean to keep an optimal balance.

This balance can be found in the alignment of the objectives and well-defined goals. This means the CMO or CTO (or your new CMT) must become metrics driven, transparent and highly communicative to shift teams mind-set and performance.

This approach means the CMO or CTO must view marketing and the business as one unit that will accelerate revenue, and not the traditional cost center.

I find the mindset to bring simplicity to this complexity is to think big, but start small.

‘Big data’ can be a complex undertaking, so start small with one marketing technology stack; marketing automation, web analytics, business intelligence, CRM, content management, predictive lead scoring tools, ecommerce platforms, search engine management, or even channel strategy technologies as a demand side platform with real-time bidding.

When asked, Murali Kandasamy, Global Marketing Operations, Western Union Business Solutions, he commented “Without data you are just a person with feelings & opinions. Data driven CX helps you create/build a marketing channel for your organization that’s loyal, credible and cost effective.”

In my experience, if I can move the CX needle, deliver impactful business insights or customer lifecycle performance, then I’ll on-board and bridge the next technology stack prioritized against the strategy objectives and builds on the CX.

Disruptive bootstrap startups think and act this way, and so should big business.

For perspective, I asked Romain Mercier, Application Sales Manager, Enterprise Accounts of Oracle Marketing Cloud the question, “What challenges and opportunities do you see from the top CMO’s you work with from your client portfolio, and what did you learn?

Romain: Many fortune 100 allocate 10-20% of the total marketing budget on MA (marketing automation).

Marketing automation is viewed by many CMOs I talk with as a key strategic priority in their G2M strategy. The value of marketing automation, doing more with less and leveraging data for “lead to cash” analytics are strong value propositions for any BU leaders, and as a result investments in technology and staff are significant.

Look at airBnB, Uber and the share economy that took significant market share of a stagnant industry with a 100% digital G2M strategy. The demand for qualified digital marketers is very strong.

Marketing automation is more than a technology change. Quite often, an internal culture change is also needed, especially with B2B companies. A CX focus forces organization to put themselves in the client’s shoes and always ask, what’s in it for the client.

Data allows marketers to better segment their customers than ever before, but with that said, linking all of these data points is proving very challenging for many organizations.

MA (marketing automation) has 3 key areas:

  • Aggregating all data points and digital conversations between your clients and your brand
  • Leveraging digital body, and target them with relevant information on any digital channel
  • Leverage data analytics to measure campaigns, contents and lead to cash ROI.

The end goal is connecting all digital communications channels with your prospects and customers, leveraging their digital body language to better segment but also communicates and serves relevant information, Romain concluded.

But what about Sales?

Yes, sales also needs to be at the table with marketing and IT when bridging technology gaps because demand gen. and sales leads are at the heart of the relationship between sales and marketing.

Historically sales and marketing has known to be a rocky love / hate relationship, and many times on the account of disputes over the value of leads.

The leads story-line is two-fold. Sales complain leads are too weak, where marketing in turn feels sales people fail to follow up on the quality leads supplied to them.

In the digital age, sales and marketing are working much more closer, and in harmony in some cases. And it’s a fundamental shift in the working relationship as the buyer journey and CX has changed, among the capabilities of the marketing technology stack are a big part of the reason.

There is smarter use of data, marketing is delivering better leads and accelerating the sales funnel, which makes sales people are more effective in closing sales.

At the heart of this relationship is marketing can now provide (via technology) sales a deeper and more relevant view of that critical portion of the buyers journey, and a more personalized and impactful experience to influence the CX for sales. Additionally, marketing can now take more control over the customer conversation.

To attain this, CMO’s and marketing technologists should have focus on building the relationship of trust between sales and marketing, and marketing technology has been a critical part in building that trust.

Shifting your business to rethink the way you do business in order to improve the customer experience (CX) can be huge change-management process at best. And in pursuit of the holy grail to leverage data to improve CX, many CMO’s will get thrown into this quest to satisfy the demands of the digital-age customer.

Where to start?

Stay relentlessly customer-obsessed and learn (and experiment) how technology can support your CX. You do not need enterprise-level solutions to come to this realization – there are plenty (if not more) of poor-man solutions that are just as robust (and moreso).

Lastly, make small gains (or big gains depending on the speed in which you can operate) that are focused on growing business digital maturity to attain a fully enabled or connected network across the business.

This will organically grow the business understandings of the customer, and the CX insights to show the path forward to CX nirvana.

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