The endless CX war – why Australian companies need a CMO who gets it
Digital transformation is the mission du jour for companies and organisations of all stripes in Australia and abroad, says Nicole Stirling. But without a true internalisation of the importance of CX, CMOs are leaving their companies ripe for disruption.
According to the IDC FutureScape ‘Worldwide Digital Transformation 2019 Predictions – Australia Implications’ report, 89% of Australian CEOs are “under pressure to executive a successful DX (digital experience) strategy”.
Why the mad scramble? In many instances, brands are accelerating their transformations, not to stay ahead of the competition but to keep pace with their customers, whose expectations for slick and speedy service have been set sky high by international tech players such as Amazon, Apple and Uber.
The never-ending cycle
Not every company competes directly with these powerhouses. But every Australian brand is up against them in the customer experience (CX) arena. It’s not a battle they’re engaged in but an endless war.
Why? Because transforming digitally isn’t a one-off exercise; it’s an ongoing process of innovation. The technology behemoths know this; they’ve built their brands – and their billion, and trillion, dollar valuations – on intuitive, seamless service and they’re not going to get complacent any time soon. Local brands that want to stay in the game need to get used to running just as quickly. This shift in the way Australian businesses view digital transformation – as a process, not an end game – is vital to their success.
The right tools and the right people
Many local players are already adjusting their strategies to reflect this new reality. They’re moving fast, evolving rapidly and raising the CX bar. But investing in new digital and marketing technology is only part of the answer. Strong executive leadership is just as important. Without leaders who can articulate the need for obsessive customer-centric focus across the enterprise and champion initiatives which support it, businesses may struggle to gain traction.
So what qualities and skills does a CMO need to drive an organisation to become as customer obsessed as it needs to be to survive and thrive in today’s competitive digital landscape? Here are a few:
A deep appreciation for data
Data is integral to all organisations which seek to make CX their chief priority. It’s what enables them to know their customers so intimately they can predict their needs, wants and purchasing behaviour with startling accuracy.
Digitally-driven CMOs understand the power of data and mandate its collection from multiple sources including chatbot conversations, purchase histories and social media.
Analysing and harnessing the raw data insights it contains is part of their modus operandi. They know it’s the key to greater personalisation, richer one-on-one experiences and more intelligent and well targeted offers and actions within the customer journey. Data is used to inform every digital experience they devise because they know that without it, they’ll struggle to keep the customer satisfied and stay ahead of the competition.
An obsession with customer experience
It’s impossible to be agnostic about customer experience in the digital era. You’re either a true believer – or working for an organisation which is ripe for disruption. CMOs who understand the power of CX don’t just say it, they show it, by ensuring the customer is central to every decision and action. They may measure the effectiveness of their campaigns by transactions but they know that’s not the sole measure of success. Building long-term relationships with loyal customers is even more important and the only way to do that is by anticipating their needs and exceeding their expectations, over and over again.
You just can’t fake it… true empathy for customers
Is marketing about the customer or the company? Traditionally, it’s been the latter, but digitally-driven CMOs know they need to take a different tack. Truly placing the customer first requires them to undertake an often-recommended but rarely practised exercise – putting themselves in someone else’s shoes. Doing so enables them to understand where and how their company fits into a customer’s life and how that customer can be provided with a personalised experience which, in some small way, improves their lot.
Adapting to survive
Customer expectations look set to keep rising, as digital transformation continues to cut a swathe through traditional industries. Australian CMOs need to embrace the changes and adapt their thinking and practices to suit or risk being ‘disrupted’ by colleagues who are prepared to make customer experience top priority.
Nicole Stirling is JPAC director of marketing at Acquia
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Image credit:James Pond