CMO roundtable: Customer engagement and building the new marketing remit

In the first CMO New Zealand roundtable, sponsored by Microsoft, we debated the nature of modern marketing strategy in a world where customers control the conversation

Making customer engagement happen

Building customer focus also means getting insights from the horse’s mouth. Fenby advised forming development partnerships with customers and involving them in R&D with appropriate benefits, fostering close relationships between internal staff and your customer’s people, and communicating via multiple channels by focusing on new thinking and comment, as worthwhile activities.

At Wilcox, teams take time to interact face-to-face with customers as well as through research, Langrell-Read said.

"The management team get involved with store visits and buyer behaviour observations, and we are looking to extend this to some of the in-store demonstrations,” he added.

More recently, social media is giving the end consumer a platform to communicate with more immediacy and helping brands better listen to their needs, Langrell-Read said. As a consequence, Wilcox has moved away from a pure advertising strategy to content-led engagement, all around its messaging of “growing for good”.

At Vista, the emphasis is on investing in new communication channels and campaigns to collective and wider industry audiences, Fenby said.

“We are tailoring our communication to focus on the benefits our products deliver and the problems/issues that our prospective audiences may be experiencing that our products resolve,” she said. “We are putting ourselves in our customer’s shoes and looking to deliver emotive, thought-provoking information. We are supporting the strategy actively with social media and via our website with promotions, links to articles, and comprehensive content.

“We are also catering to a multi-language operating environment that involves a large commitment to translation.”

In addition, Vista harvests big data from its Movio cinema and loyalty program offers – Movio Cinema and Movio Media – to help its customers configure offers using specific demographics and behavioural information.

“Movio software enables unprecedented, targeted marketing campaigns for film industry players. It is a very exciting product and a critical part of the success of Vista Group,” Fenby said.

Scott said marketing campaigns should ideally be built to be responsive to customer feedback.

“If you have a rigid strategy, you lose the opportunity to hone your messaging and mechanics,” he said.

It’s not just marketing programs, however, but wider product development that needs a shake-up if organisations are to become truly customer focused. Salton suggested product innovation was a question of what customers complain about, and what gap should be fulfilled.

“For a year, we had the experiments program as its own standalone area, which this year has been rolled back out into BAU with champions in all areas. It’s been really interesting to see that the culture of experimentation is continuing at pace and hasn’t lost any of its momentum,” she said.

One of the challenges with a new product or idea is that it may not make money immediately.

“Sometimes we’re innovating because we have to, versus trying to solve an issue for customers,” Saltoncontinued. “In some instances, we cannot predict for sure that the experience will deliver a new revenue source but it can ‘disrupt’ and re-imagine how we do what we do every day.”

A recent example is ASB’s Clever Kash, a cashless money box for kids. “Clever Kash seeks to engage and re-think how we can innovate and create a new experience that will drive engagement and brand loyalty,” Saltonsaid.

Delamore highlighted rapid prototyping and involving customers in the design and testing process as key, while McAlwee questioned innovation versus effectiveness, stressing the need for balance.

“We should try lots of things, and know many will fail,” he said. “We also have a strong focus on service and process innovation, and this is extending to our communication systems.”

Sky Television director of marketing, Michael Watson, saw disruptive technology creating as much of an opportunity to innovate as a threat. “Our ability to deliver great customer experiences is made easier by the data and distribution the Internet brings,” he said.

The biggest current hurdle Watson saw is connecting the data dots.

“SKY has 800,000+ Skyboxes in our customers’ homes. Each of those boxes is a veritable goldmine in terms of the data they can deliver to help us add value to our customers,” he said. “Managing such big data and making meaningful use of it is going to be challenging.”

There is also a wider disconnect around the customer view about understanding value, compared to the way services are delivered, which Sky is working to address, he said. Watson added “a winning experience drives value”. In Sky’s case, and in many non-commoditised businesses, this revolves around content.

“We are acutely aware of the fact we are transitioning away from being just a TV broadcast company,” Watson said. “We need to do this in order to put customers first. For the foreseeable future satellite delivery, with an IP connection, will still be the best way to serve a large majority of New Zealanders.

“We have a history of disrupting ourselves so while we are not fazed by this, it’s undoubtedly one of the biggest changes in our history.”

Metrics and objectives required

Attendees also delved into metrics being used to support a customer experience-led approach. Scott said using customer satisfaction surveys is clearly required, but also mandated marketers spend a certain percentage of their time in the field, working inside the sales teams, and listening to customer service calls.

At a brand level, Delamore said complex organisations should not only be employing measures like Net Promoter Score, but have customer feedback loops that are both granular and dynamic in order to address experience issues as they arise. Auckland Airport also has regular customer surveys, uses social media to help gauge the voice of the customer, and is investigating mobile technology to assist.

Whatever metrics are employed, they must be treated as an outcome, not as the driver, Salton said.

“KPIs like voice of customer, reduction of complaints, customer satisfaction are key to understanding the emotional relationship customers have with your organisation,” she said.

Scott is spearheading several initiatives at Microsoft to emphasise customer engagement. Bringing in the voice of the customer, from the initial design all the way through to product build, is a vital, he said.

“Windows 10 illustrates that perfectly – that is the result of not only our engineers, but 6 million Windows users [called Insiders] who trialled early versions of the product and provided heaps of feedback on what they liked, and what they didn’t,” he added. “The result is our most successful Windows platform ever, with very high customer satisfaction – because our customers built it.”

Watson shared an example of leveraging social media insights to help secure buy-in for Sky’s loyalty program.

“A constant refrain from our customers on social media and elsewhere, is that SKY is seen as rewarding new customers while taking existing long-term customers for granted,” he said. “Banks, telcos and others all face the conundrum of giving meaningful rewards for a very large customer base who each make a small contribution to the bottom line.

“I was able to bring this sentiment to our CEO and board who are favourably disposed to a loyalty scheme that will offer our customers a great bonus, personal to them, for being a subscriber without breaking the bank.”

Ultimately, making sure the customer’s voice is heard is about spending more time talking and listening to them, Scott said.

“We need to get the direct truth, not a refraction from other teams,” he said. “Our teams go on listening tours, getting cross-sections of our customers together and hear their concerns, and their areas of delight. It is also about championing customers in every conversation – marketing, sales or operations by simply asking, ‘What does the customer want?’.”

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