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.
Marketing leaders have to become technically adept, engineers of big data and own the end-to-end customer experience if they hope to keep up with the pace of disruption impacting every industry on the planet, GMC Software’s global chief claims.
Speaking to CMO during a recent visit to Australia, GMC Software CEO and COO of the vendor’s parent company Neopost, Henri Dura, said the technical savviness of marketers is linked to their ability to understand how much and how fast the world is going to be disrupted.
“Uber and Airbnb aren’t isolated incidents – disruption is everywhere,” Dura said. “When you are talking about marketing as a function and strategy, this needs to be front of mind. Whether you’re in the product marketing team, helping design the product against understanding customer needs, or whether you’re in communications, you have to understand technology more and more.”
Dura said marketers also have a duty to collaborate right across their organisation if they hope to keep customer engagement consistent and relevant.
“My biggest message to the CMO is you need to understand technology in order to help your business partners in the organisation make the best choices possible to better communicate and interact with your prospects and customers,” he said.
In addition, CMOs have to “become engineers”, Dura said, noting the rise of big data as the means of knowing and responding in an authentic and relevant way with customers.
“Marketers have to understand what big data is and what they can do with it,” he said.
The emergence of the Internet of Things will revolutionise things further. “Just look at the example of self-driving cars…The insurance company will be able to tell if you are a good or bad driver. Self-driven cars will revolutionise the go-to-market strategies of insurers.”
GMC Software provides a multi-channel communications management solution. The vendor’s recent investment emphasis has been on building out the mobile and customer journey mapping capabilities of its platform.
“Mobile is changing the customer experience and that’s our bet at GMC. We want to be the first one to go to mobile and move Customer Communications Management to a completely new space,” Dura commented.
Customer journey mapping, meanwhile, is a tool enabling companies to gain a quick understanding of the consistency and responsiveness of their engagement at different customer touchpoints, Dura said.
While there’s plenty of discussion today around unifying customer experiences, it’s clear most organisations still struggle to deliver a consistent and unified communications approach across business lines. Dura said he even found this to be the case when GMC was working on development of its latest CCM platform, after looking at what Neopost was sending customers in various communications documents.
“For a start, messaging wasn’t the same between the US and UK, and the brand attributes were not the same,” he said. “And the way we are interacting with our customers was disparate and not consistent. This is a common problem everywhere.”
In an age led by transparency, and where consumers can post a review anywhere and anytime, it’s imperative marketers own the end-to-end customer communications and interaction experience, Dura continued. “If you don’t understand the why and don’t own the end-to-end customer experience, you’re going to find it a challenge,” he said.
To do that, Dura suggested marketers must increasingly be part of the product and services development and design process. “The marketing guy, and the one responsible for acquiring and eventually retaining the customer, hasn’t been involved as much as they should in the design of the product and usability of digital,” he claimed.
Another part of the challenge is the raft of disparate tools used by different functions such as marketing, service and IT, Dura said. Culturally, there also continues to be a distinction between what teams feel accountable for within their organisations.
As a way of bridging these gaps, Dura said he spends as much time as possible with teams and customers, “because that’s where you gain a better sense of what the reality is”.
“You also have to look at the distribution channel and who is involved in that,” he advised. “As soon as you have an agent – it could be in the shop or in a bank – you need to make sure things are simple for the agent as well. If it’s complex for them, they will find a shortcut and end consumers won’t benefit from the whole offer you have to make.”
GMC Software A/NZ managing director, Nick Dempsey, noted one life insurance customer locally now working to transform the language used by its claims communication as part of efforts to unify and improve customer experience.
“They are talking about training their staff in that language that’s being used in communications so it is a consistent experience. That reaches out to the branches and agents they have,” he said.
More CMO coverage on how local brands are working to transform customer experience management:
- How HBF is transforming its customer communications
- National Home Doctor Service dials into improved customer service
- nib shares how it is tailoring customer communications
- ATO deploys voice biometrics to enhance customer experience
- How the NSW Government is raising customer experience standards