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The Integer Group

It's time to #getreal on the #CX hype

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Instead of worrying about data and digital, brands and agencies should be rigorously investing in customer-centric teamwork, says The Integer Group.

All of us are hearing a lot about this customer-centric CX nirvana where amazing content, media tactics and brand equity are woven together to deliver measurable return on client marketing spend. So why can’t brands get there? 

Here are some real reasons why brands and agencies get in their own way, and why instead of worrying about data and digital, they should be rigorously investing in customer-centric teamwork.

Lazy people don’t get it, persistent people do
Let’s be honest, the foundation of real customer-centricity is built from the relentless rigor of documenting customer mindsets, the experiences that customers want and the acute creative briefing for each connection such that customer desires are set up for measurement. This can’t be done while sipping scotch and pontificating about the next big thing.

Some of those brands representing the kind of dedication it takes to line up all of the customer experiences are AT&T, Wells Fargo, Starbucks and Amazon. Incidentally, these brands also realize the importance of brick and mortar to holistic customer experience. 

Being smart isn’t enough, it takes solidarity
Although CX is complex and requires a lot of brainpower, one person alone can’t lead the transformation required to align customer experience and operational delivery. To build the kind of relationship that customers demand, you need champions from strategy, account leadership, creative, brand, product, sales, marketing, technology, data, finance and accounting teams. Simply put, "it takes a village to raise CX."

Organizations should unite around a 52-week calendar as soon as possible. For brands and agencies alike, many execs are reading white papers or picking up buzz words at conferences and perpetuating notions that CX is about advertising and marketing when it actually comes down to finance and accounting.

Agencies and brands stall out in the creation of customer-centric cultures, content and engagement – aka CX – at the crucial connection to performance from dollars spent. The way to overcome this problem is to start from an annual budget perspective and work backward across an annual content strategy. The days of "selling in" a big campaign ended the moment customers with mobile devices started deciding when and where they will engage with us. Today, you’ve got to know where and when to go with that "Big Idea." 

Successful CX, all boils down to two notions: 

  1. TIMING
  2.  (and this is important) COMMERCE AGENCIES are where it’s at

Timing is everything
In the beginning, when you started building CX strategies, the talk was all about data because most people think it holds the key to connecting advertising and marketing activity with financial performance. Here’s the problem. Most people don’t speak "data," and those who do already know, "if you interrogate the data long enough, it will eventually tell you anything you want to hear." If you really want to unlock the secrets around ROI (Return on Investment) or ROAS (Return On Ad Spend), you’ve got to get into a 52-week mindset.

The only way to connect the dots between customer experience, marketing, finance and account teams is to think in terms of week-over-week, year-over-year performance. Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV) lives over time so the agency, client and customer need to be systematically aligned around annual timing to garner a true perspective on their relationships.

In layman’s terms, this means starting with a 52-week annual calendar of content, channels and budget dedicated to customers throughout the year. From this perspective, you quickly find the relationship between spending, campaigns and customer acquisition, which serves as the true North for understanding longer-term relationships with customers. 

Not everyone is doing it
The other thing they won’t tell you in white papers, conferences or workshops is that CX is not universally achievable. Agencies that have moved into the commerce space, with shopper marketing pedigrees and/or a lineage of retail expertise are correctly positioned to seamlessly connect online and offline experiences. All too often we hear about the diminishing role of brick and mortar in the marketing ecosystem when, in fact, retail locations are still the most critical piece of the customer experience. What we know today is that commerce marketing agencies are uniquely poised at the intersection of branding and selling, moving both shoppers and consumers through the journey of living, to looking, to buying. 

Smart ideas still deliver results down the aisle but are no longer limited to the last two feet, where purchase decisions were traditionally made. In today’s world there’s not just one "moment of truth" but thousands. This new era frees us to create the very best customer experiences in so many more ways, in so many new places.

Dennis Wakabayashi is Group Director of Digital and Marketing Integration at The Integer Group and one of Campaign US’ 2017 Digital 40 Over 40 Honorees.

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