Customer experience: Integrating to solve the last mile challenge
The line between marketing and technology continues to blur at an astonishing rate -- not just in plans and campaigns, but in the makeup of our industry. One of my former clients, now a good friend, started as an IT product owner before becoming a marketing technology lead to multiple large brands as the CMO of a global organization.
Although career graphs are very individualistic, his journey mirrors the changes happening in the marketing sector. Previously, CMOs primarily concentrated on developing a dynamic brand experience, but now they also drive digital transformation initiatives, where technology is front and center of their business strategy. This convergence of technology with marketing means the landscape is changing dynamically.
He explained that two of his core challenges were:
1. Employee experience: One of his key performance indicators (KPIs) is employee attrition. Years ago, CMOs were not tasked with employee engagement, but workforce dynamics are changing rapidly, and there is no longer a difference between Sunday night and Monday morning experiences. Employees need to have a positive experience, or they'll move on.
2. UX vs. CX: The transition from user experience to customer experience continues to be a struggle. User experience (UX) has to do with the people who interact with your product and their experience doing so. Customer experience (CX), on the other hand, covers every interaction a customer has with your brand. Compare it to keeping up with recent Star Wars movies while feeling nostalgic for the original saga.
As more technology-savvy leaders move into the marketing space and customer experience transformation becomes a core growth strategy, the profile of the digital marketer will have to adapt.
The role of CMO includes transformation
According to a Harvard Business Review article, three core organizational demands are driving the change in CMO expectations:
1. Pushing growth with data-driven insights.
2. Designing strategies and processes to roll out the vision in a multichannel world.
3. Becoming a change driver, delivering adjustments across the company.
With the CMO job description expanding, the issue becomes execution. How does the rubber actually hit the plan-execution road?
Customer experience transformation may sound glamorous and alluring, but the real excitement lies in making this journey simple, grounded and more profound. Transformative initiatives will fail unless they have an efficient execution model. Execution is one of the most common issues for clients, creative agencies, and platform and service providers. Seamlessly scaling in a complex ecosystem is difficult. User segmentation varies from employees to consumers, with consumers who range from baby boomers to Gen Z and everything in between.
Cracking the "how" of this is key. Some tried to solve the issue via acquisitions, and we are seeing strange combinations of agencies as a result. The ultimate goal is a unified execution approach with the agility to deliver innovation at scale and speed.
The reality of CX
More than 80 percent of brands surveyed by Gartner believe their success will soon be "mostly or entirely dependent on customer experiences (CX), but less than half have a strategy in place to explain why CX drives their ROI."
The approach to achieve agility varies. Some companies are creating in-house agencies, while others are de-coupling to divide strategy, creative, technology, publishers and merchandisers.
The line between the physical and digital world has blurred and will continue to become insignificant and important at the same time for a complete omnichannel customer experience. As an example, I was recently with my wife at a retail store where they had a self-checkout facility, but she still had to search for counters and stand in line for 15 minutes just to get a tag removed.
Situations like this typically happen because organizations tend to relate customer experience transformation to the next shiny object rather than making it more simple and profound with a focus on meeting the last-mile challenge with an integrated approach. This is where a concept of fusion studio comes in handy to deliver an end-to-end solution in an agile fashion.
Create a fusion studio
It's important to have a small, integrated point of difference (POD) focused on continuously strategizing, innovating, designing, implementing and executing in a repeatable factory-based model to solve simple business goals, like with the self-checkout.
A factory model does not imply a lack of creativity or churning out bland content. Instead, that factory can be a fusion studio: an extension to in-house capabilities that supports marketing, sales, service, or commerce and combines technology, brand, and marketing with an agency team to deliver marketing campaigns.
And it works. A leading medical and consumer products company I work with reduced spend by 40 percent and increased turnaround time by 30 percent by aligning its brand production work in a fusion studio model across platform, content and support.
A full-service fusion studio delivers:
• Foundational work: Lays your digital foundation with informed design, architecture, build, conversion, migration and integration services, with a rigor-driven factory approach to enable end-to-end digital solutions.
• Content factory: Helps produce effective, scalable content based on customer engagement objectives. This optimizes operations, penetrates new markets and elevates your brand at the speed and scale you need without talent concerns.
• Insights: Data-driven decision-making can better your overall strategy and tactics. This helps with measuring, testing and optimizing your digital content and experiences based on critical insights.
The fusion studio concept brings simplicity to complexity. For example, a leading industrial company (and client of ours) used a studio with its in-house and external agencies to help more than 250 websites in 26 languages. It brought in authoring insights for all its campaigns and global promotions and identified areas for future digital investments.
Building a robust strategy and finding the glue to hold it together with measurable parameters and execution approaches to make it real, simple and profound is key. Brand experiences can be challenged from anywhere, but changing traditional models means marketers can react quickly and meet the last-mile challenge in a more nimble and efficient way, even as user expectations continue to change.