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The Tech You Need To Prevail Over The Pandemic

customer experience services

Ryan Greene from ActionIQ puts light on how pandemic has accelerated the digital revolution & why companies are looking at in-housing as a massive opportunity.

The pandemic has inexorably changed the way we lead our lives. It has also accelerated the digital revolution, putting new pressures on organizations to reinvent, pivot, and transform systems and procedures at hyper-speed.

Change management is not just a consideration. It is core to day-to-day survival. For marketers, this means revisiting the entirety of their martech stack to address the “new normal.”

Waiting is No Longer an Option

Digital and omnichannel commerce had been growing steadily for years, but under COVID-19, store closures and modified operations (such as curbside pickup) have caused digital sales to surge—with year-over-year growth hitting 55% in July. At current growth levels online spending for 2020 is set to exceed online spend for all of 2019 by early October.

Leveraging data to improve the customer experience (CX) has been a long-running initiative for brands, but unprecedented shifts in customer needs and behaviors have made data-informed CX the only way to understand and respond to unprecedented consumer and market dynamics.

Marketing budgets were already tightening (decreasing 11.2% of overall company revenue in 2018 to 10.5% in 2019), but the need to preserve cash has led to drastically streamlined budgets in 2020. Every brand must now do more with less.

Customer Experience is The Core Differentiator

Due to this accelerated momentum of ecommerce and other impacts of the pandemic, CX is now a mandatory core competency, one that is simply too important to outsource to external vendors.

In-housing is rightly seen as a massive opportunity for retail businesses. But it is also crucial for companies in categories as diverse as insurance and media. Industries are being dramatically disrupted with the need to find new revenue streams and/or transform “high touch” transactions into DTC models. Data and analytics have become the key competitive differentiators for brands, no matter the focus. And, streamlining costs is an imperative. In response, many leading brands are moving to bring in-house the CX and digital work that was previously outsourced to external vendors.

As a client once said, “It was like they (our vendor) held our clock and we had to call to see what time it was.” The aim is to take ownership of customer data and the processes for turning that data into differentiated customer experiences This enables faster speed to market, reduces spend on agencies and consultants, and builds in the longer term building a sustainable competitive advantage in the long run.

Gartner confirmed the movement’s momentum in its CMO Spend Study, finding that a solid third of marketing work has already shifted from agencies to in-house. Moreover, CMOs expect that trend to continue into 2021.

The reason many businesses originally outsourced this work was because it was very hard and expensive to find the talent to manage this in-house. The word “complex” only scratches the surface. Prompted by a profusion of easy-to-implement SaaS and cloud software services, the average marketing organization has been using a mind-boggling total of 91 different martech tools. Now, let’s think about all the varied touchpoints in reaching consumers—digital marketing, social media marketing, email marketing, direct marketing, and more. Each of these teams are entities unto themselves with distinct skills, metrics and objectives.

How do you coalesce this myriad of channels, technologies, and siloed operations to make customer experiences seamless—presenting one unified impression of your brand, no matter if they are dialing into a call center, visiting your website, spending time on your Facebook page, or even visiting one of your brick-and-mortar locations?

Technology, specifically customer data platforms (CDPs), have bridged this gap by productizing the data integrations, transformations, and querying that used to be done by humans.

That can now be done by a CDP and a non-technical user can now do the same work that used to require an entire data science team, as well as numerous outside resources. Insights and action are generated in minutes instead of days, or even weeks. Companies can react and rework at scale, delivering personalization that drives meaningful customer experience and the ROI that follows.

Not all CDPs are created equal. Before in-housing, it is imperative that CMOs, CTOs, and their teams do their homework before making a decision. It all comes down to the CDP’s ability to flexibly support your data 3 Vs: volume, velocity, and variety.

CDPs are already helping to fuel the in-housing movement. As more and more businesses recognize the need to bring together disparate parts of their martech stack and the teams that lead them, CDPs—especially those with significant capabilities—will empower even more successful in-housing in the short-term and the years to come.

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Ryan Greene
Ryan Greene is the Head of Product Marketing at ActionIQ. He is experienced in product marketing and helping other companies in building an entirely new business. Prior to joining ActionIQ, he was working with American Express as Director of Digital Product Management.


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