Ways to become digital ‘inside and out’ to succeed with customers

CMO-CIO collaboration, human-centred design, contextual intelligence and a holistic digital strategy are all part of building optimised customer experiences, says Avanade digital market leader

CMOs must work with CIOs and develop a “CIMO perspective” in order to collaborate and achieve success in the age of the digital customer.

That’s the view of Avanade digital market unit lead, Lourens Swanepoel, who firmly believes a lack of CMO-CIO alignment leaves organisations with conflicting design siloes.

“There is a need for traditional siloes in an organisation to be broken down, especially between the CMO and CIO,” he told CMO in a recent interview. “Agendas differ quite substantially: The CMOs are typically interested in how technology can help them support the growth in the customer base, or prevent a churn, and have higher customer retention ratios.

“The CIOs focus must be a little bit different: It is about how I deal with the disruption that technology is bringing into the organisation, and how do I keep my traditional systems up and running?”

To combat this, Swanepoel said CMOs and CIOs need to learn each other's language. “It is about the need for them to have a joint seat at the table and really make sure that they work closely together, and actually look through the same lens at the customer,” he said, advocating an agile approach as a way of making that happen.

Swanepoel flagged two practical steps to help organisations create the CIMO perspective: Firstly, ensuring cross-functional teams; and secondly, hiring the correct skill or resources that have experience in both areas.

In addition to encouraging CMOs to get cozy with CIOs, Swanepoel said organisations must also focus on three key elements in order to achieve success with customers in the digital age: Understand the human experience; gain contextual intelligence; and develop flexible, scalable platforms that enable insight and action.

As more customers go digital, organisations will need to employ effective digital marketing strategies to ensure they maintain customer satisfaction and relevance in the digital age. With an eye on the human experience, Swanepoel said this involves understanding that customer experiences are part of developing a “digital brand identity”.

“A customer’s interactions with a brand help define that brand. In order to manage brand quality, customer experience must lead the design process around marketing strategies, particularly when it comes to interactions and communication channels,” he said.

“The ‘human experience’ is the way in which the human is interacting with your brand. It needs to inform your brand strategy, it needs to inform your marketing strategy. Based on that understanding, you need to shift the discussion from talking to your customers and the way you are approaching marketing and exacting with them, to having a conversation with them. Understanding their context within which they are engaging with you as an organisation and with you as a brand.”

In getting context, Swanepoel said organisations must turn data into ‘contextual intelligence’, to ensure the business is able to engage with customers in the way they want on the areas that interest them.

“Aim for that contextual intelligence. Data is the new competitive advantage and it is about how you leverage and extract value out of the data in your organisation and apply that to that experience that the customer has with your brand to make it more engaging and create moments that really delight the customer and makes them want to come back for more,” he said.

Lastly, in developing scalable platforms, Swanepoel said organisations need to glean insight and take action.

“Increasingly, organisations are looking to have flexible, scalable platforms that will enable them to gather that data, turn it into insight, and engage the customer whatever platform they are on,” he said.

Digital report card

When asked how companies are faring in the age of the digital customer, Swanepoel suggested it is a mixed bag. The biggest hurdles to creating a successful customer-centric digital strategy are cost pressures, technology angst with legacy-based and siloed systems, and cultural and operational concerns.

“In the area of digital customer, most organisations are starting to realise they need to shift the focus, but they’re also realising that it is not just about being digital on the outside, but being digital on the inside,” he commented. “Most organisations have started. Some are more advanced in terms of their thinking; the ones that are more advanced are the ones that are looking at it from a human experience perspective.

“To be effective on the outside, and digital on the outside, you also need to be effective on the inside and digital on the inside. You need to really make sure you empower your internal employees to have contextual engagement with your customer. That’s quite a big challenge as well because that’s quite a large transformation both in terms of technology, but also in terms of organisational change.”

While many brands have already put a solid base in place in the age of the digital customer, Swanepoel believed there’s more optimisation needed in terms of connecting data within an organisation. One common challenge he pointed to was connecting historical data sitting within the siloes of the CRM or in the data warehouse, with what’s actually happening whilst the customer is interacting.

“Companies then need to use that to anticipate the needs in a proactive manner and drive a more customer centric experience, and really understand the context of the customer,” he said.

An example of an organisation that is cracking this approach for Swanepoel is Cricket Australia.

“Cricket Australia is doing phenomenally in understanding the sports fan and what the need is of a cricket supporter, and then providing digital services and structuring that journey around them,” he said.

Government is also making good headway, Swanepoel said, noting the creation of the Digital Transformation Office (DTO). From government to retail to the energy sector, the key is to gain widespread support of digital strategies that address and cater to the customer experience.

“There’s a local and global shift in the market towards the digital customer. Many organisations realise it is not just about dealing with two-speed IT, but that two-speed IT needs to factor in the customer as well,” he continued. “How do I use information technology to create a better experience for my customers and my clients?

“Central to succeeding in the age of the digital customer is having a focus on customer experience led by human-centric design. Organisations must understand the full customer journey cycle and adapt marketing strategies geared towards customer satisfaction.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+:google.com/+CmoAu

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

More Videos

Great piece Katja. It will be fascinating to see how the shift in people's perception of value will affect design, products and services ...

Paul Scott

How to design for a speculative future - Customer Design - CMO Australia

Read more

Google collects as much data as it can about you. It would be foolish to believe Google cares about your privacy. I did cut off Google fr...

Phil Davis

ACCC launches fresh legal challenge against Google's consumer data practices for advertising

Read more

“This new logo has been noticed and it replaces a logo no one really knew existed so I’d say it’s abided by the ‘rule’ of brand equity - ...

Lawrence

Brand Australia misses the mark

Read more

IMHO a logo that needs to be explained really doesn't achieve it's purpose.I admit coming to the debate a little late, but has anyone els...

JV_at_lAttitude_in_Cairns

Brand Australia misses the mark

Read more

Hi everyone! Hope you are doing well. I just came across your website and I have to say that your work is really appreciative. Your conte...

Rochie Grey

Will 3D printing be good for retail?

Read more

Blog Posts

How to design for a speculative future

For a while now, I have been following a fabulous design strategy and research colleague, Tatiana Toutikian, a speculative designer. This is someone specialising in calling out near future phenomena, what the various aspects of our future will be, and how the design we create will support it.

Katja Forbes

Managing director of Designit, Australia and New Zealand

The obvious reason Covidsafe failed to get majority takeup

Online identity is a hot topic as more consumers are waking up to how their data is being used. So what does the marketing industry need to do to avoid a complete loss of public trust, in instances such as the COVID-19 tracing app?

Dan Richardson

Head of data, Verizon Media

Brand or product placement?

CMOs are looking to ensure investment decisions in marketing initiatives are good value for money. Yet they are frustrated in understanding the value of product placements within this mix for a very simple reason: Product placements are broadly defined and as a result, mean very different things to different people.

Michael Neale and Dr David Corkindale

University of Adelaide Business School and University of South Australia

Sign in