It’s clear to those of us who live at the intersection of technology and customer relationships that customers have radically changed the way they interact with brands. Traditional CRM tools are no longer sufficient because it’s not about managing customer relationships anymore—it’s about creating and optimizing engagement across a vast range of digital touchpoints.
For marketers, the upsides of the new customer journey are huge, but so are the challenges. Like it or not, brands and marketing teams need to rethink everything and begin utilizing resources that are better at facilitating and strengthening connections across a constantly growing list of engagement opportunities.
If you think you’re in control of your customer relationship, you’re wrong. Today, digitally empowered customers are firmly in charge, bouncing from channel to channel at the drop of a hat. Web, mobile, in-store—it’s all the same to your customers and they want the ability to engage, self-serve and buy with or without the assistance of an actual human being.
Even more, customers expect every interaction with your brand to put their convenience front and center. As a result, the customer experience doesn’t happen in a single channel or along a predictable trajectory, but at seemingly random points along all of your brands channels, interactions and communications.
This means that the boundary between marketing and customer experience is becoming increasingly blurred. The benefit is that brands now have the opportunity to deliver significantly richer experiences much earlier in the customer journey. But it also raises several important questions about how brands and marketers will operate in the current customer landscape:
- What role will marketers play in the creation of customer experiences?
- Will marketers have access to data insights that enable them to create more engaging experiences for customers?
- What else can brands and marketers do to better meet the expectations of today’s customers?
Bringing Marketing and Customer Engagement Together
Exceptional customer engagement is your brand’s most important asset. With the relationship between marketing and customer engagement entering a new phase, there are several things brands must do to smooth the transition.
1. Deliver Consistency and Context.
It’s common sense that the customer experience needs to be consistent from one digital channel to the next. But increasingly, brands and marketers need to focus on making sure that the experience is consistent across all digital and physical touchpoints. For example, when a customer visits your store, he/she should be able to find the same products, and be eligible for the same promotions than when he/she browsed on her smartphone and created a mobile wishlist or cart. And when she calls customer service, they should have visibility to items she has browsed, liked, purchased or returned. To keep customers satisfied and engaged, you need a single view of your customers and your customers need consistent promotions, policies and interactions across every interaction.
At the same time, customers want contextual engagement from your brand—they don’t expect or want the exact same experience across mobile, online, in-store and other touchpoints. Contextual engagement optimizes the customer experience for specific touchpoints, without sacrificing consistency or convenience. This means knowing the device, time-of-day, and paying attention to when and how a customer engages with marketing and experiences.
2. Create A Buddy System between CMOs and CIOs
Interactions between CMOs and CIOs used to be limited, at best. The CMO handled the marketing activities, while the CIO managed the technology behind the organization’s data collection, governance and infrastructure.
Now, the changing relationship between marketing and customer engagement is personified in a closer working relationship between the CMO and the CIO. Why? Because it has to be. Marketing needs to constantly collaborate with the CIO and IT to rapidly capture insights that can be used to better engage customers—when, where and how they want to be engaged. Much has been made of the CMO becoming the key driver behind many technology purchases in the future. And while that may be to some degree true, the CIO has to ensure that the fundamental business objectives can be met – of an integrated data foundation to deliver on that and consistent view of customers, products, and orders required for the business to be truly omni-channel.
3. Empower Marketing to Execute on Customer Experience Expectations
Marketing today needs to be equipped with tools and resources that enable the creation of relevant, engaging customer experiences in order to successfully execute differentiated and relevant customer experiences. That includes solutions to manage and drive content, curate relevant experiences for customers, and drive business objectives through merchandising, promotion, and pricing strategies that execute across channels.
When marketers are given the right tools and insights, they can move beyond managing antiquated marketing processes to developing a singular view of customers and linear customer journeys that are not in sync across channels. This enables marketing to improve personal interactions with customers, creating experiences that are consistent whether the customer clicks on a banner ad, visits the company website or walks into a brick-and-mortar store location.
The changing relationship between marketing and engagement represents a permanent shift in the way brands relate to their customers. The best marketers will succeed by using advanced marketing solutions to develop a continuous cycle of listening to and engaging customers, while those who choose to neglect new technologies will fall behind.
Original Title: The Blossoming Relationship Between Marketing and Engagement in the New Customer Journey
AICEX Customer Experience Italian Association