Why IT’s new top priority is customer experience

Robin Marchant outlines the shift which has seen IT departments’ focus switch to customer experience, and why marketers must up-skill to keep up.

The customer journey has traditionally fallen to the marketing team. After all, raising brand awareness, driving lead generation, and increasing sales are all aspects that have the customer at the centre. And each of these are the responsibility of the marketing team.

Customers, however – with marketers following in their footsteps – are changing.

Customers are weaving technology and devices evermore into their personal and professional lives, to the point where they have become totally indispensable. Consequently, marketers can no longer rely on their old goals to service customers with a truly 360-degree approach.

Squiz’s latest ‘State of Marketing Technology’ report found that 60% of IT workers now identify improving the customer experience as their top digital goal, while the majority of marketers chose ‘integrating all platforms and channels’ as their main focus.

Related: Paul Taylor on why marketers must look beyond their competitors to avoid their customer experience becoming commoditised »

Think about the significance of this split for a moment – IT’s traditionally tech-focused role has now shifted gears to concentrate on the customer experience, a remit that has, until now, been delegated to the marketing team. Here are a few key reasons why the new top priority for the IT team is the customer, and what marketers should be doing to address this change:

 

Marketers must upskill on tech

The reality is that marketing uses a lot of IT. In particular, the marketing team must remain in the technological know-how of vital systems such as CRM systems and data warehouses. As the customer journey fragments, and touchpoints occur online and offline across different devices, the need for efficient use of this technology will only grow.

One of the other chief reasons why marketers have had to upskill on technology, is because they realise that technology must be a key enabler for any successful marketing program. As the millennial generation enters the workforce, a thorough knowledge of IT systems will become a huge differentiating factor between everyday and outstanding marketers.

Marketers must realise that technology presents opportunities to increase conversions, enhance the customer experience, and provide a better way to analyse customer data.

 

IT is a natural fit for customer experience outcomes

IT’s readjustment to focus on the customer has been a logical transition. The expectations of a robust CX and a seamless customer journey are a natural fit for the talents of the IT team. IT teams have done well in recognising the need to move away from purely systems-based processes and have worked to apply their strategy to customer experience.

CRM is just one example – in order to have a great CRM strategy, there needs to be involvement with IT from the outset, including accurate testing, implementation, support and data analysis. Marketing can provide the direction, but it needs IT to execute it. Since CRM ultimately serves a customer outcome, rather than an IT outcome, the IT team can be involved in this process and both teams end up demonstrating true ROI for their business.

 

Collaboration of teams meets alignment of goals

Customer satisfaction will only continue to put more pressure on the organisation as a whole. In order to complement this new shift in thinking, it is vital for organisations to stop operating in a way that encourages siloed approaches or competitive thinking between teams. Linking KPIs to collective results is one way to achieve this collaboration between marketing and IT. With customer experience as a clearly defined goal across both teams, this is an ideal way to begin.

It’s clear that marketing and IT are more aligned that ever before. These two vital business functions must now work together to share ideas, and it’s this collaboration of strategy and execution that will ensure the customer comes first. Putting the customer, and hence technology, at the centre of all your business goals, is going to be the best way to future-proof your organisation in the age of digital transformation.

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Robin Marchant is global marketing director at Squiz

 

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