Customer buying habits have seen a dramatic shift in the last 10 years for both B2C and B2B businesses. In developed markets like Australia and Singapore, smartphones, social media, high speed internet and cloud-based services have taken the customers by storm, which has therefore had a marked effect (the “customer shift”) on how, when and why products and services are purchased. There has been a visible change in customer expectations about their interactions with their brands (B2C) and vendors (B2B). But as far as developing markets are concerned, like that of India, Indonesia and Vietnam, this shift is currently in process and there is a definite opportunity for legacy brands to level up and be ahead of the wave so as to lead their customers on the journey to think differently on what their preferred brands can do for them.
The present generation of senior marketing leaders across many APAC enterprises are the ones with a career having traversed through analogue as well as digital worlds, and as marketers, their formal training bears little relation to the job they find themselves doing today. A number of patterns have come into view as these marketers have adjusted to the reality of the customer shift and are now operating in a digital world. The leaders have become courageous and fearless in their ambitions and the organisation to think and act differently. Emerging from digital marketing or chief digital officer roles, the stars all across the regions are aligning with their CEOs, breaking down barricades and building a true customer-centric, individualised customer experience intensified by data sources from across the business in collaboration with their peers from IT, customer service, finance and HR.
The vast majority of the region’s talent, however, has had a stagnating pattern. They understand the fact that there is a dire need to change, but they lack the skills, resources, executive support and talent pool to execute the same. In the CMO of Tomorrow report, (released by ADMA, commissioned by Oracle) a clear observation was made by the respondents on lack of understanding on budget, and KPI’s and having partial knowledge related to digital marketing technologies which therefore act as the major roadblocks in executing a modern marketing strategy.
Through my past experiences and interactions with many marketers across various roundtables and events, I have observed that it is infuriating for the marketers to deal with their respective CEOs as their (the CEO) focus on legacy business models and campaign vs customer driven KPI’s, and inability or unwillingness to engage peers across the business to think differently and in some cases, overwhelmed by a deluge of same-same vendor speak. As a result, these marketers are “throwing it all on black” – investing in Facebook and Google as a default digital strategy, stuck in campaign cycles and missing vital customer signals by relying heavily on their agencies to execute on their behalf and not taking advantage of the information their customer acquisition strategies provides to inform a broader customer experience remit.
Taking control, getting to know your customer, challenge the status quo
In the long run, organisations are likely to lose up-sell opportunities as well as their potential customers if they do not emphasise on improving and integrating their sales, service, marketing and product/service delivery customer experiences sufficiently in order to meet raised customer expectations. On the other hand, organisations that are accepting and adjusting to the influential shift in customer expectations are taking advantage of this opportunity to win against and be a step ahead of their competition by investing aggressively in core systems, process and customer experience solutions.
Irrespective of being a “cost centre” and sometimes considered only a sales funnel, marketers who have the potential to understand the importance and impact of delivering an individualised customer experience also have the right set of circumstances to be the true voice of the customer and drive business transformation, improving bottom line metrics for their companies.
For starters, think about the extent of knowledge and information that you already have about your prospects, customers and brand advocates. Where is this information required, how is it utilised for segmentation, lookalike targeting, nurturing ‘up-selling and customer retention. Simultaneously, upskill yourself – find the digital natives in your organisation or social circle and understand their brand expectations as well as interactions with the brands they admire. Ask your agencies to arrange lunch and learning/training sessions with their best talent - whether they are assigned to your account or not, encourage suppliers to share best practices and insights from their industry and their territories. Take the time to think how uniquely and differently can you do the business. Be the voice of change in your organisation and embrace the unknown.
It is imperative today to understand that it is a journey and that change is the new normal. It starts with you and your courage to think and act out of the box and move in diverging directions to seek your ultimate goal. By following some of these outlined steps, CMOs can be prepared for tomorrow and deliver exceptional, individualised customer experiences in 2017.
-By Wendy Hogan, Marketing Transformation & Strategy Director, Oracle