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Neeraj Pratap 0


We live in an era where acronyms are a sign of expertise or the next big tectonic change in technology. From a marketing perspective CRM was an acronym that resonated for almost 2 decades. But times they are a changing. Today marketers are in a mad race to give their customers a superlative ‘experience’ not just manage the ‘relationship’. Enter CXM. Exit CRM. Marketing can no longer operate in silos. CX driven marketing requires behavioural data (social, web, media), CRM, After-Sales, Finance. A great customer experience or a moment is much better than a 100 bonus points. The best and the most successful programs have embedded customer experience/recognition in their DNA than the unsuccessful ones. The Jet Privileges program stands out because of the entire ecosystem and partnerships that were built outside of the flying experience. One can even book a flight on Indigo with Jet privilege points! MarTech players have been the first to pick up this trend and they have kind of become the pall bearers of Customer Experience Management (CXM). This in a way does not speak well for the immense marketing talent available globally and in India. A great customer experience cannot only be ‘enabled’ using MarTech tools. The ‘thinking’ still needs to be done. What exactly is the customer experience? Why is it important? When should it be delivered? In what form should it be delivered? What is the ROI? These are fundamental questions any marketer worth his salt will ask. These questions need to be addressed from a different lens across the organisation. These are not uni-dimensional questions. Marketers have been adept at creating needs where none existed and the only differentiation that a product/service can offer today is the ‘brand’. The brand is the value generator and more and more the experience defines the brand.

The original pioneer in this space has been the Disney brand. And they have successfully served the most fickle, expressive and moody customers – children, and that too very successfully. The wristbands at Disney, Anaheim gives visitors access to all the Parks, get priority rides (fast pass), pay for Disney merchandise and food, unlock their Disney hotel room, give personalised greetings, imagine Mickey yelling out ‘Happy Birthday Jai, have a good one!’
The band also helps parents and children navigate the rush and directs them to available rides or shorter wait time. This not only enhances the customer experience but also leads to greater operational efficiency. The Disney Experience in a nutshell demonstrates how technology drives the integration of Operations efficiency, generating greater ROI, giving an unmatched customer experience from 6 to 60-year olds!

Marketers need to take charge of the Customer experience. Today the premise seems to be that technology is the differentiator between a good and a bad customer experience. It is just a facilitator. With AI, ML, RPA, AR, VR & IoT. we have enough jargon floating around our ecosystem to make us feel confident that we will be able to deliver a superlative customer experience and its only about investments in tools. That’s the trap the Marketers must avoid falling into. Marketing must be people-centric. Delivering a great customer experience is all about orchestrating and personalising the entire journey including managing convenience, micro-moments, delivering contextual communication at a touch point of the customers choice, when he is ready to receive the experience. To enable this the entire Customer experience management framework will have to be designed. This requires a mindset change. Because this framework cannot be designed in isolation. The entire organisation and partner ecosystem need to be involved. Most organisations are not prepared for this transformation. There are multiple reasons for this-

  1. It takes a lot of effort, application and intelligence to create a unified digital experience strategy. A lot of people can do it theoretically but have no clue of how it will unfold when it is put to practice. This is where it normally becomes a case of – Enter some marketing automation tool. Exit strategy.
  2. There are proprietary tools that need to be built that will differentiate the brand experience when tools and platforms become standard. There is a need to automate the process on scale as well as humanise the experience.
  3. The problem with tools is that plug and play never works unless the strategy is thought through seamlessly with well-defined and measurable KPIs.
  4. Most organisations operate in silos – CMO, CXO, CDO, CTO, CIO, CFO, Sales and After Sales. All islands of excellence and talented teams restless to make an impact. Each chasing a different rainbow, leading to a riot of colours and a messed-up painting instead of a customer experience masterpiece (CXM).
  5. To design a great Customer Experience framework Organisations, need to have –
    a. A single end-to-end customer view
    b. The capability, intelligence and the right tools to deliver insights from the wide swathe of data that exists in different siloes in different formats.
    c. The ability to act real-time upon the insights and intelligence generated
    d. Ability to integrate all of the above with their existing investments in people, technology and processes. (Thank you but no thank you lift and shift, rip and replace)

The key question is that does the customer, experience the difference? There is a need for personalizing the experience with never before moments that requires ‘process-driven imagination at scale’. That’s what differentiates the best-in-class companies from the average ones.
Amazon is another example how a tech-driven Company can disrupt hugely successful business models of the past. The maniacal focus on what the customer needs is keeping Amazon way ahead of the curve. Today, what is Amazon? How do you define it? Is it an ecommerce platform? Or is it an intrinsic part of a customer’s life? Just look at the continuous stream of innovations –

One click process minimum effort required from the customer, ease and comfort
One day delivery fulfilling a customer need and desire in the shortest time possible
Amazon Go promising the world’s most advanced technology. No lines, no check outs, just grab and go
Opening shop-in-shop stores in Shoppers Stop fulfilling a customer need and desire in the shortest time possible
Alexa command to order a product and the rest is taken care of
Amazon Prime and Music curated content
Another good example is the AskNestle initiative. FMCG marketers have really struggled to connect with customers and provide a great customer experience. They are sold off the shelf to a mass of people who mostly remain unknown. The consumption of the product is the experience was the belief. Not anymore. Marketers are creating experience opportunities to engage with customers. Like AskNestle gives a platform/service to mothers. It provides a growth tracker for kids, customer meal plans, a food diary, healthy recipes, nutrition information, expert hats and more. Imagine the data that Nestle can gather from a very involved and engaged set of mothers.
Hansa Cequity STEP up to CXM
Strategy includes defining organisational goals and KPIs, specific for the kind of customer experience to be delivered and why it is relevant.
Technology Design the solution architecture keeping the unique customer journey in mind in the context of your brand/organisation and customers. One should go for best-in-class point solutions rather than buy one behemoth stack that does everything. The power is in the integration and orchestration.
Empowering people Get different silos to collaborate and empower them to take decisions. Customers don’t differentiate between Marketing, Sales and After Sales.
Processes Need to be robust. Governance mechanisms to review and reboot as and when required must be put in place. Measure everything but action data points that will have the largest impact and make a telling to difference to customer experience.
Globally brands like Kohls, Best Buy, Equinox, Air Canada, Sun Trust Bank, Mastercard and Toyota have taken big strides in Customer experience management. Toyota for example has a unified view across silos like Sales, After Sales, Financial Services arms and across brands/ organisations including Lexus. A humungous task to integrate across the Americas but now that it has been accomplished they have a very good idea of who their customer is, having layered this with an Identity Management program and intelligence to pick up the ‘intent’ of the customer they are well poised to deliver a superlative customer experience.
Spotify, a subscription-based service, the experience for an audiophile is fantastic. Their acquisition of Tunigo which allows users to manage playlists every moment. Echo Nest and its ML based tech to provide recommendations and predictions give an unmatched listening experience. This is pure play leveraging technology to enhance Customer Experience, drive stickiness and keep the cash counters ringing month after month.
Look at how Nike has responded to the onslaught of technology from building great shoes to providing personalised and curated content and information. A chip embedded in the shoes acts as a wellness system that tracks and analyses workouts, has a personal guide and provides advise. From an Athletic gear brand to a fitness and coaching services brand. They have successfully connected their products to experiences that better the lives of their customers in a relevant and seamless manner. Also makes great business sense, involved and engaged customers who run more, buy more and have no reason to consider a competitor. Organisations and brands in India will have to traverse some distance till we get there. The CMOs role has fundamentally changed. He must be the Chief Customer Officer, the Chief Experience Officer and the Chief Growth Officer. This is the CMOs chance to aim for glory and a seat on the Board. And of course, the success of this digital transformation lies with top management commitment, collaboration and deploying the right people for the task. This is indeed the STEP up change that will re-define marketing