Computers and artificial intelligence have come along at an exponential rate over the past few decades, from being regarded as oversized adding machines to the point where they have played integral roles in some legitimately creative endeavours.
Understanding business technology is no longer optional for marketers, it’s imperative if they’re to meet modern customer experience expectations, according to Ansell Asia-Pacific marketing director, Mitchell Mackey.
Speaking at The Holla Agency’s Sydney event this week entitled Customer Experience: The New Marketing Agenda, Mackey said technology is fundamentally disrupting everything organisations do, and is simultaneously a key enabler helping businesses transition to the experience economy.
“Old-school IT is less and less relevant, and those just keeping the lights on are less competitive,” he claimed. “And business technology literacy for all of us is no longer optional. Previously, you couldn’t get to a c-level role without financial literacy. Increasingly today, you must understand business technology.”
The need for all organisations to embrace human-to-human engagement seen traditional functional boundaries between IT, marketing and sales, blur, Mackey said.
“Old corporate silos are increasingly a major impediment to real value,” he said. “Sales, marketing have to come together like never before, customer service has to be thoroughly integrated into the whole business, and IT has to become a real enabler and transition to business technology.”
Mackey positioned marketing as the “glue” cementing an organisation’s customer experience objectives and approach.
“Marketing is the pivotal actor responsible for owning and influencing the whole experience that must differentiate your brand,” he said. “Experience across your products, brand and service must come together in a compelling way, persistently.
“And you can’t cheat – no matter how much money you spend on your brand promise, you won’t convince customers you’ve provided better service than you actually do today. They all talk and are connected. Your company may not be internally, but your customers surely are.
“Experience-based differentiator must become the focus of everything you do - you must obsess about the customer experience.”
Mackey advised treating customer experience as a competence and said it requires an outward-in approach.
“Three questions to ask yourself are: Who are our customers, what are their needs and problems, how do you enable them to achieve their goals?” he asked. “Engagement is complex, and the buyer journey is not linear or a straight line. In many organisations, teams are still operating as islands and that just doesn’t work in today’s business environment. You have to get off your different planets and re-engineer how you work together and collaborate.”
Mackey also won applause from the audience from claiming too many teams are still stuck in “Excel hell”. “It’s a sign that you don’t have a connected company, integrated dashboards and systems, and you’re trying to stick things together,” he said. “Customer experience can’t be systematic that way.” For Mackey, customer experience is a jigsaw puzzle where every piece must be in place to succeed.
“This requires vision, skills, incentives, resources, and the action plans to get results,” he said. “Miss one of those elements and you are wasting your time. And you have to keep it simple.
“Three core questions we have to consistently ask ourselves: What shall we change? What do we change to? And how do we implement change?”
Mackey also pointed to the need to integrate everything from website management and what people do online, to ERP, sales automation and CRM, communities and co-creation with internal and external stakeholders, and how customer service captures all interactions online and by phone.
“It needs to be a federated, integrated environment,” he said. “For many of us with legacy infrastructure, it’s not going to be a single, master system as that’s not realistic. But we must construct a federated, integrated view of the customer of our business.
“It’s the agile companies, and the ones that can move fast, that will succeed and zoom in on those zero moments of truth, as Google calls them.”
When it comes to measure of success, Mackey said a simple question to ask customers is: Was it easy?
“Marketing’s mission must be to mobilise around this ‘making it easy’ goal,” he continued. “We must drive systematic change, embrace digital, jointly own with sales the revenue target and take that seat at the table by ensuring marketing influenced revenue is a significant, meaningful contributor to the business.”
Mackey added engagement with customers is the only competitive advantage for brands today.
“Customer experience is the main game and it’s the one to fight for. If you get it partly right, you’re way ahead of your competitors and the payoff is significant,” he said. “Don’t let an internal ‘Game of Thrones’ mentality stop this from happening. Form a coalition of the willing and make it happen.”
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