New technologies are reshaping customer expectations of businesses. The explosion of web-based and mobile applications – and the digital leaders using them to deliver seamless customer experiences – has fostered a demand for consistent yet personalised products, services and experiences.

Businesses are responding by moving customer experience to the top of boardroom and senior management agendas. This means reshaping processes and cultures to give customers what they want, when they want it.

For marketers, this means ending the traditional broad segmentation used to target individuals and businesses, and instead moving to more timely, contextually relevant, personalised experiences.

All of this requires brands to be able to recognise their customers across the many channels where they dwell — a single view of the customer.


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Many brands still face a sizeable challenge deriving this unified view. They quickly hit roadblocks when working with systems that are not integrated, relying on information and content that resides in silos rather than being widely available.

For example, a marketing platform delivers its biggest benefit when it can collate data from multiple sources and provide actionable customer insights in real time. However, a common problem arises – marketing leaders do not often own back end systems they rely on for data and integration with other processes.

There is also the problem issue of requiring an analytics team to do this work – which leads to manual handling, rework and time delays.

There’s no quick fix. Indeed some marketing solutions will improve data integration, collaboration and access, but becoming truly customer driven and delivering consistent, personalised experiences in real time requires an organisation wide CX culture.

Start at the top

In order to achieve this, like any major culture shift, it must come from the top. Leadership buy in enables the necessary collaboration and system integration, although it’s no small feat.

Gartner research director, Jane-Anne Mennella’s advice on shifting to a CX focus reveals just how significant the change can be.

“[Customer centric organisations] change their culture, processes and operations to put the customer at the centre of every decision and work towards supporting and improving the customer experience,” Mennella said.

“[They] redefine what success looks like, balancing short terms goals with the longer term benefits strong customer experiences offer.”

CX leaders are already achieving this and pulling away from their competition, according to Gartner, and consumers now show little tolerance for inconsistent or poor experiences, irrespective of quickly fleeting brand loyalty.

Those poor or inconsistent experiences often stem from marketing campaigns based on incomplete information and content, or on disconnected systems and misaligned CX strategies, which ultimately struggle to either deliver a high-quality customer experiences or measure the impact of their attempt.

So what are the key questions your business needs to consider when evaluating the effectiveness of its systems in supporting a fully aligned customer experience strategy?

We believe your business should ask:

  • Are its marketing offers, e-commerce, customer profiles and approvals residing in different systems, causing the unnecessary duplication of processes?
  • How much time does it lose creating content for each system and ensuring that content is available in the right place at the right time

Responding to these questions will help your business identify gaps in its capabilities — and opportunities to deliver a genuine customer experience culture.

Businesses, and especially marketing teams, need to look beyond marketing systems to modular systems that manage the complete customer experience. Such systems should enable compliance with increasingly strict regulations governing capture and protection of customer data, while enabling marketers to run targeted campaigns, sales to create personalised relationships, and digital officers to create omni-channel experiences. This should also enable businesses to deliver personalised content to selected groups.

The system should also reduce duplication and administration across marketing and other teams. This leads to faster time to market and the ability to adapt more quickly to changing market conditions.

Smart businesses are already taking the opportunity to unify disparate teams, centralise customer information and deliver high-quality customer experiences.

Customer experience collaboration

Food and industrial process technology supplier GEA Group is one example. The company’s evolution from a range of business units had encumbered marketing, sales and services teams with multiple systems and applications. GEA Group integrated its software solutions into a single unit, restructured its operational systems and remodelled its customer relationship management processes. The business has centralised all customer-related information for business units to use simultaneously — enabling it to structure marketing and sales activities effectively and become more customer-oriented.

Now every authorised sales, marketing and service employee worldwide can gain access to information with just one click. GEA Group marketing team members can instantly generate precise campaigns for target groups, while colleagues can access information such as contact details and generated leads. Collaboration and cooperation has improved — sales and marketing teams work together to save time and improve knowledge of customer satisfaction. GEA Group also systematically records all customer related activities.

In North America, the National Hockey League adopted a coordinated approach to increase fans’ interest in the sport and to track their online behaviour. With its fans using the Internet, mobile devices and social media to interact with the sport, the League increased its use of multimedia and social platforms, focused on mobile, and revitalised its web presence.

The NHL used SAP Marketing Cloud to manage data and provide an outstanding customer experience by allowing fans to conduct fast filtering and searching. This solution enabled the League to obtain insights into individual fans and connect with them through relevant content and messages.

Fan engagement increased by 25 per cent in the first week and, following improvements made by the League, user time on the web site increased by 45 per cent.


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Finally, Karma Automotive — a business that manufactures hybrid cars — has turned to a single, always-on platform to support its decision-making. “From order through delivery, we have one system of record, one version of the truth, and one platform to ensure 100 per cent customer satisfaction,” says Mikael Elley, Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Karma Automotive.

Connecting with customers and forging deep relationships may appear to be a daunting task for businesses struggling with disparate systems and siloed content. However, managing the customer experience process from end to end is essential for organisations that want to thrive in an increasingly personalised, always-on society.

About the Author

Iain Ferguson is a corporate writer and editor with over 25 years experience. SAP is a is a corporate member of the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit. Our members provide their insights and expertise for the benefit of the Which-50 community. Membership fees apply.

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