Cory is the Chief Operating Officer at BlueConic, a leading customer data platform.
When I was 10 years old, I had the opportunity to travel to London with my mom and grandmother. After walking around the city for a day, I could tell my grandmother was experiencing some pain. While she remained stoic, she finally admitted that her shoes were killing her. When I took a look, I realized she still had that stuffed paper in both toes that come with new shoes. So, she’d basically spent the entire day walking around the city in shoes that were too small. The relief she felt when she realized she no longer had to suffer and could fully lean into the trip was palpable.
So, why am I sharing this personal story? Because it’s a perfect analogy for what some kinds of technologies can do for marketers and other growth-oriented teams. Sometimes you don’t know what’s causing you pain or how things could get better, but ultimately, the way it changes your approach to critical business tasks is game-changing.
The reality is that organizations are only as agile as their slowest link. This was never more apparent than during the pandemic when businesses across the spectrum were forced to change their approach to customer engagement on the fly. Some were able to use the crisis as an opportunity to build stronger relationships with their customers; others stumbled in ways that only soured customer perceptions.
So how can marketing and customer experience leaders overcome the operational challenges that hold their teams back? While no technology is a silver bullet, here are four attributes to look for that can help cut down on the amount of time, effort, resources and complexity required to connect and engage with customers.
1. Proximity To Engagement
For the vast majority of organizations, the data their marketing and customer experience teams need to deliver personalized experiences is stored in an entirely separate system (or systems) from the tools they use to deliver those experiences. But why have that data at all if teams aren’t able to use it in a way that supports a better customer experience and facilitates the customer journey?
If you’re used to relying on legacy systems that weren’t designed to challenge this proximity-to-engagement paradigm, you’re going to find yourself falling short. Incorporate technology that can help put data directly into the hands of teams when and where they need it to improve the way they engage with customers.
2. Data Access And Utility
Most organizations are under pressure to move faster. But how many marketing and customer experience teams have to rely on a separate department to retrieve and manipulate data out of other systems before they can actually do anything with that data in the market?
When marketers and customer experience professionals have to spend days or weeks waiting on external agencies or internal IT and data science teams to create custom segments, calculate customer scores and more, it can significantly slow time to market. By leveraging technology that removes structural and unnecessary barriers to data access, marketing and customer experience teams can not only achieve their core tasks faster but also get valuable time back in their day to test new creative, design better experiences and tackle other essential activities.
3. Getting From Insight To Action
Delivering more personalized and relevant customer experiences can have a positive impact on business outcomes. However, many companies aren’t able to realize personalization at scale because the time and effort required to get from insight to action isn’t worth the cost of doing it.
When marketing and customer experience leaders don’t confront the ways in which their teams are working, they end up settling for the ways things have always been done, rather than challenging the status quo or trying something different. Look for technology that enables your teams to gain insights quickly, so they can test and iterate on new creative ideas or prove (or disprove) the merit of a hypothesis for improving the customer experience.
4. Flexibility And Speed
The Covid-19 pandemic provided a broader reminder of just how unpredictable the world can be and the difference it makes to have technologies in place that allow you to be more agile and resilient when market conditions and/or consumer behaviors change.
The reality is that customers don’t care what factors are impacting your business, but they do care about their experience with the business and whether or not it delivers value. So, marketers and other teams need to be able to adapt on a dime without damaging the customer experience. Your technology should enable flexibility and speed in response to inevitable and often sudden changes to the business over time — both internal and external.
Determining The Operational Efficiency Of Modern Tech
While everyone expects their technology investments will ultimately lead to improved outcomes, their ability to make underlying marketing operations and business processes more efficient should not be overlooked. To determine if a given technology offers the aforementioned attributes, ask yourself:
• Does it help customer-facing teams and other growth-focused teams get things done faster and in a more automated way?
• Does it reduce the number of steps in a process to get to the desired marketing and/or business outcome?
• Does it allow teams to rely on fewer technical resources (IT, data science, etc.) to complete their work?
• Does it help teams scale experimentation and optimization across different programs and initiatives?
• Does it help you interact with individuals in a timely, relevant, personalize and privacy-compliant manner?
What’s holding companies back from delivering smarter and more valuable customer experiences isn’t a lack of desire or creativity. It’s the longstanding inability to operate with autonomy and speed. Leveraging technology that helps remove these barriers can have a transformational impact on your business by giving your teams the flexibility and freedom to experiment more often and at scale and the ability to adapt in the face of disruptive change.