Companies have started seeing their technology stacks differently since Covid-19 arrived. As digitization has become essential to current resilience and future relevance, they have recognized IT as much more than just the engine that fuels everyday operations — elevating its position from back-office role to business-critical asset.
With all eyes turning towards recovery, many are now looking to accelerate post-pandemic growth by investing in new hardware, software, and systems. According to Gartner, global IT spending is set for a major hike that will hit $4.2 trillion in 2021, 8.7 percent up from last year, and to continue rising by another 5.5 percent through 2022.
But before rushing ‘honeymoon’ decisions, it will be crucial to ensure higher appreciation doesn’t lead to over-estimation of impact. While the value tech can deliver has certainly been highlighted by recent disruption, its ability to make a tangible contribution heavily depends on whether organizations have their foundation firmly in place.
For those hoping to become high-performing digital enterprises, this means they must first cultivate a solid base of three key building blocks: people, process, and data.
Harnessing collective people power
Most businesses understand the importance of customer-centricity, especially in a climate where 78 percent of consumers are now strongly focused on convenience. They are also aware of the role their employees play in supporting this goal. But while gathering people with the right skills is key, there is another preceding step that’s equally critical to enable consistent delivery of customer-based digital experiences: establishing the right team framework.
The typical structural approach is creating multiple internal verticals, such as data and analytics, CRM and loyalty, media and advertising, and product teams. This isn’t illogical: placing people in teams that align with their abilities makes sense and ensures every facet of the digital experience is covered. It can, however, drive problems when teams operate in separate silos.
Although often trying to meet the same core business goals, the use of different KPIs means each team will have a disjointed view of customer interaction. For instance, CRM teams tracking ‘email clicks’ may miss ‘buys’ from the same user, which would have been picked up by the advertising team that was measuring sales driven by paid ad campaigns.In addition to missing the connecting behaviors of a customer, the business may also be sending out mismatched messages to them.
Contrary to expectations, the best solution isn’t simply removing these verticals. Instead, introducing a new overarching ‘customer success’ team will allow them to maintain their specific remit, but also coordinate on cross-functional activity and apply aligned customer-centric KPIs alongside independent metrics. From there, they can then coalesce around a shared multi-faceted strategy for cross-channel, device, and team communications.
Or in other words, being under one umbrella will help teams work together to provide seamless and interconnected experiences across customer journeys.
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Organizing experience through process
Once teams are integrated, standardizing processes can significantly improve efficiency, as well as minimizing discrepancies. But mapping practices for governing the entire customer experience is far from easy. As with any large-scale project, the smartest move is breaking this colossal task down into manageable pieces:
1. Tailored course setting:
Simple as it sounds, the priority when pinning down goals should be boosting customer value, with revenue generation aims coming in second and never set to arbitrary numbers. This might entail striving to bolster prospects who become loyal customers by targeting ad campaigns at new user groups and continuously optimizing efforts to meet specific needs and fuel meaningful connections, with results bringing mutual incremental gains.
Similarly, experience planning must revolve around the habits and requirements of these customers, instead of implementing blanket messaging, such as bespoke reminder emails for those who have left items in their basket for 24 hours or serving unique discount offers via social media.
2. Staying in tune with customers:
Successful journey mapping needs to take the full customer lifecycle into account, including every pivotal stage that brings a mindset shift; from pre-purchase to browsing, basket building, conversion, and post-purchase. When correlated to an experience roadmap, this allows teams to keep their approach tied to real and evolving audiences, rather than archetypes, increasing their chances of not only acquiring, but also retaining customers.
The metrics teams are working to should also offer room for flexibility. At an individual level, it’s paramount for KPIs to mirror the wider cross-channel roadmap in every sense; aligning to goals and changing as customer trends shift, not spiraling into ever-growing lists of redundant measures. Holding bi-weekly meetings where holistic data is assessed can be a shrewd decision to regularly review the relevance of these metrics and re-direct strategy.
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Spotting and solving data inefficiencies
Data is, of course, the factor that underpins customer experience. Critical to understanding individuals, it also generates the insight needed to highlight where businesses can reach target audiences and pinpoint which channels, devices, and moments to home in on for the greatest outcomes. All of which means finding and addressing any flaws in data usage is vital to pave the way for delivering personalized experiences at scale.
While challenges will obviously vary between companies, there are several starter questions that can help them spot particular problems. For instance, is every byte of data they collect being harnessed for purposes that relate to main business goals? Do companies have total oversight of application and processing, both internally and by external partners? Do they feel completely confident in data accuracy? And possibly most importantly: are they sure data collation and usage is compliant, transparent, and clearly understood by customers?
While being unable to give affirmative answers for these considerations doesn’t necessarily take data-fuelled personalization off the table, it should at least raise a red flag and mark specific areas for review prior to launching initiatives or making technology investments. In addition to avoiding errors such as misfired messages and wasted advertising budgets down the line, proactively resolving data inefficiencies could even negate the need for new tools by enabling companies to leverage the full capabilities of their existing tech.
With digital increasingly intrinsic to sustainable success, expansion of business toolkits is inevitable. But companies must remember that no matter how intelligent or advanced new technologies are, they won’t be enough to fix every problem or unlock each opportunity. To ensure that spend yields maximum returns, it’s imperative to first ensure the basic building blocks of people, process and data are in place for effective implementation and ongoing usage.
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Steve Carrod, Co-Owner and Managing Director, DMPG