Technology’s Role in Differentiating Customer Experiences

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Marketing organizations are contributing to customer experience initiatives by working to deliver more relevant content in both outbound and inbound channels. While technology is certainly no silver bullet, marketing organizations are turning to technology to help them:

  • Automate. As marketing organizations seek to deliver more relevant and individualized customer experiences they begin to change their marketing communications mix away from a pure outbound push model to incorporate messaging tactics driven by customer behaviors and actions. In addition to being very responsive to the customer, these tactics are ideal because they can be automated. Today’s campaign management solutions are maturing beyond support for the traditional push campaigns to facilitate campaign automation through functions like real-time data integration and event detection, multi-stage campaign process flows, and business-rule-driven automation.
  • Collaborate. Relevance is not just about the message. Relevance requires an equal focus on time and place. And, when considered from the customer’s perspective, relevance is inherently multichannel and integrated. As marketing organizations work to increase their relevance, become more customer-focused, and create differentiated customer experiences, they will need to collaborate more – a lot more – with other marketing teams and with other functional areas of the company (like customer service). Marketing resource management technology can help facilitate collaboration by providing a consolidated marketing calendar, establishing common work areas for virtual teams, and facilitating processes, as interdisciplinary teams work to design, build, and launch integrated programs.
  • Integrate. Integration is a fundamental requirement of relevant marketing. Whether it is integrating disparate data from various systems across the enterprise or integrating teams to streamline marketing processes, technology is required. Moreover, marketing application suites that are themselves integrated and support the entire marketing process – from planning through design, execution, and measurement – can dramatically simplify the complexity that marketers face as they work to become more relevant and customer-focused.

Marketing Organizations Must Increase Their Technology IQ

Just as technology is a critical enabler of relevant marketing, it can also be a major barrier. Why? Many marketing organizations don’t take enough ownership of technology. Marketers – and the technology groups that support them – must recognize that technology is a key component of marketing operations – that relevant marketing requires day-to-day access to data and iterative levels of analysis, needs not well-met by traditional project-focused IT organizations. Marketing organizations that want to differentiate customer experiences through customer-focused and relevant marketing communications and content delivery must bring technology expertise under the umbrella of the marketing organization – either internally or through a trusted services partner that behaves as an extension of the marketing team.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Elana: You’ve shared some important insight in your blog. As I read your comments, I recognized some changes in my own buying behaviors over the last 12 months: campaigns that are poorly targeted and/or carry irrelevant messages now receive zero attention.

    In the past, prospects accepted or tolerated blurry communications. Today, because forward-thinking marketers are deploying sophisticated tools to reach prospective customers, expectations have increased dramatically as well.

    The time for marketers to take action is now–not when key performance indicators (such as inbound lead activity or pipeline value) have sounded a warning. At that point, it’s more expensive to take corrective action and the hoped-for positive impact takes longer to develop as well.

    –AR

  2. Elana

    Another interesting post.

    It is easy to imagine how much new technology could do, if only it did everything it said on the box. The trouble is, it is a rare new technology implementation that delivers anything near to what the box says is possible. It isn’t usually the trouble of the new technology, just the implementation. The shiny new technology has to cope with untrained staff, unchanged processes, inadequate data, un-incentivised users and a whole host of complementary things that mean the new technology can never deliver what is possible.

    The change practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers uses this simple equation that describes the problem with new technology perfectly:

    OO + NT = EOO

    (Old Organisation + New Technology = Expensive Old Organisation)

    It is all well and good to extol the virtues of new technology. But it is pointless to do so unless you consider all the other complementary things that must be changed at the same time, to allow the new technology to get even close to delivering what it says on the box.

    This is a problem that all the analyst companies seem to have a big problem in understanding.

    Graham Hill
    Independent CRM Consultant
    Interim CRM Manager

  3. Andrew and Graham, thanks for you comments.

    Graham, I love the OO+NT=EOO. I actually used that from you (credited of course) long ago when I was writing on Unica’s Marketing Consortium blog. I spent 14 years as a systems integrator and consultant so I am very painfully aware of the challenges related to people and process that you point out and I entirely agree with the point you make. In my most recent research I’ve taken a balanced scorecard approach to helping marketers assess and build the skills and infrastructure required to drive customer relevance. See the related article in my column at ClickZ.

    ELANA ANDERSON
    Marketing Strategy Consultant
    NxtERA Marketing
    [email protected]

    http://www.nxteramarketing.com

  4. Hi Elana

    I read through the ClickZ article and the ‘Marketing Beyond the Status Quo’ paper that underlies it. I like the use of a simple scorecard, but, I am not sure that that is what marketers need at the moment.

    The problem is the scorecard hides all of the detail about what makes up marketing’s capabilities, (those combinations of process, technology, information, work routines, organisation climate and other assets and resources), how they are related together in complementary capability families and how the capability families enable the creation of mutual value for customers and the organisation.

    In these times of the ‘Groundswell’ of social marketing, marketers need to really understand what drives their business, how to move it to the next base and the mutual benefits from doing so. And in detail. I fear that the simple scorecard approach hides all of this detail from the very people who need to go through the due diligence of discovering and understanding it.

    It is not just their jobs on the line. It is the future of marketing too.

    Graham Hill
    Independent CRM Consultant
    Interim CRM Manager

  5. Graham,
    Glad to hear that you’ve read Groundswell (Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff knocked it out of the park with the book). I absolutely agree that marketers need to really understand what drives their business in detail. However, when marketers don’t feel they have the time to step back or don’t know where to start, frameworks like the one I have presented in “Beyond The Marketing Status Quo” can help by giving them a place to start and a way to start thinking about how they can develop their understanding, skills, strategy, processes, etc.

    ELANA ANDERSON
    Marketing Strategy Consultant
    NxtERA Marketing
    [email protected]

    http://www.nxteramarketing.com

  6. Elana

    I thoroughly agree that marketers have to start somewhere. The question is where.

    If they are already experienced marketers, they may well be better off looking at some of the free surveys on the (Chief Marketing Officer) CMO Council’s website and thinking about how to go the extra mile.

    If they are marketing practitioners, they may well be better off working through one of the many capability-based marketing surveys and identifying which complementary capabilities to build out.

    And if they are relatively new to marketing, they may well be better off working through the brilliant Strategic Marketing Process eBook from MO Marketing and thinking about the many different aspects of marketing that they need to master.

    That isn’t to suggest that your survey isn’t interesting. Just that I believe that there are already excellent resources out there tailor-made to marketers’ own maturity levels.

    Graham Hill
    Independent CRM Consultant
    Interim CRM Manager

    Further Reading:

    CMO Council
    http://www.cmocouncil.org/index.asp

    Strategic Marketing Process eBook
    http://www.marketingmo.com/resources/Marketing_resources.aspx

  7. Graham – You are right that there are a lot of great resources out there. What I haven’t seen, however, is a good resource that helps marketers understand the balance of capabilities that is required to increase customer centricity. That’s what I’ve tried to do with the status quo research — make the point that a balance of capabilities is required and provide a means for marketers to assess their organizations and start working to grow skills, maintain balance, and make positive progress.

    ELANA ANDERSON
    Marketing Strategy Consultant
    NxtERA Marketing
    [email protected]

    http://www.nxteramarketing.com

  8. Elana

    You are so right about marketers needing a balanced range of capabilities to improve their marketing. Marketers perhaps more than most other functions in organisations, are prone to firing first and aiming second (if at all!). And are poor at showing the economic value they create.

    Just to remind us, capabilities are a complementary bundles of processes & business rules, information & flows, enabling systems & technologies, roles & responsibilities, work climate & culture and other assets & resources, which either directly create value for the organisation or support other capabilities which do.

    Having looked at the survey again, I still fell the capabilities are a bit too generic (and I think a little too biased towards data and systems) to be really insightful. To make marketers think about what they need to be doing. To show them what to do next. And to show them how to go about doing it.

    As I crude test a ran the survey against the automotive bank where I ran CRM last year and against the mobile telco where I am implementing customer lifecycle management this year. I know marketing in both organisations inside out. Maybe I am a little biased, however, in each of the two cases, although the survey identified there was work to be done, it didn’t help me in bottoming out their real marketing problems, in identifying what problems to tackle first, or in showing how to go about tackling them.

    I am a big believer in capability profiles to help marketers know what they need to be working on. But the devil is in the details.

    Graham Hill
    Independent CRM Consultant
    Interim CRM Manager

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