By: Kevin Lourens
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos will tell you if you build a great experience, customers will tell each other about it. Word of mouth is very powerful. But merely satisfying customers will not be enough to earn their loyalty in today’s consumer-led marketplace. Rick Tate, an internationally recognised expert on service quality and customer loyalty strategies, says instead they must experience exceptional service worthy of their repeat business and referral. To be successful, we need to truly understand the factors that drive this customer revolution.
So what has changed and when did customers start driving the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and Chief Information Officer (CIO) together? Looking back a few years, everything seemed less complex than it is today. Marketing had a much neater silo and less interaction with IT. IT in turn, had a much clearer demarcation. People believed systems were for IT people, while advertising was for marketing people. Today we are definitely seeing a change that will accelerate and push the CMO and CIO even closer together.
So what are the forces that are driving CMOs and CIOs together?
- Customer Obsessed Business: With the customer now clearly the center of any business’ universe, organisations need to base their decisions around creating differentiated customer experiences, driven by customer insights. Customers need to be engaged and delighted, and it is not enough for organisations to just be customer focused – they must be customer obsessed; focusing their strategies, energy and budget on processes that enhance knowledge of engaging with customers.This may sound like a marketing initiative but it requires technology to make it happen. Technology and marketing silos need to consider the entire customer experience across all touch points. This means cross silo collaboration – business driven by the customer first, and the organisational structure second.
- The customer is living digitally: They are online, on mobile and expect brands to be there too. Customers expect brands to engage with them where they engage. Digital customers are having digital conversations every day and brands need to be part of the conversation.
- The customer is empowered with more information: The customer has access to far more real-time information then ever before. Marketing and IT need to be part of that data stream and ensure that the brand is not tripped up by bad reviews, regional pricing and poor support.
- Good digital user experience design is art and technology combined: The sensitivity and value of a great user experience is not something that IT teams are used to. Historically, their focus has been on delivering functionality, not experiences. Marketers on the other hand are concerned with craft and polish, driven by perception and emotions. The truth is, neither can stand alone. Instead, the way to design user experiences that work for customers is to prototype a user experience, test it with real people and get real feedback. As technology and marketing professionals, we need to base our convictions on real data, not what we “think” is right.
- Marketing is becoming data driven: Brands and the associated emotive connections that get built in the minds of consumers remain a necessary art form. Each brand still needs an emotive promise and a well defined benefit.These benefits however are gained from extensive data insights. In addition, data will drive smaller and smaller segments and context becomes increasingly essential for data driven delivery of offers and messages. Data integration is however a pre-cursor to be data driven – integration is an IT imperative and the marketers need that data to create a holistic view of the customer.
- Marketing needs to be ROI driven: All of this adds up to big spend – spend that is expected to deliver a return. There needs to be an alignment between marketing activities and sales results and other objective measures.
Creating an Intuitive Customer Experience, a concept explored during the recent Nedbank Digital Edge Live event, is a key differentiator in creating a customer-centred offering. Its effectiveness relies on integration between marketing and IT.
CMOs and CIOs will need to be on the frontlines of business success in order for organisations to compete effectively in a universe where customer obsession, driven by data insights and multiple touchpoints that create rewarding and delightful experiences, reigns. Without co-operation, collaboration and alignment the battle will be lost to competitors who can rally an organisation around the only long term sustainable advantage – delighted customers who talk about great experiences.