The challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution are well known to marketers by now. But the solutions to those challenges are still in the works. AI, trust and collaboration are three key ingredients without which CX will fail. How marketers use them is where the magic is.
It’s no secret to marketers that the huge shift in customer expectations we have experienced with the onset of the Fourth Industrial Revolution has dramatically changed the way we do business.
The demand for a bespoke, personalised experience was once associated only with high-value, high-consideration products and services such as cars, appliances, insurance policies and luxury travel. Now, consumers demand exceptional experiences across the board, from cars to cosmetics, from luxury goods to laptops. Today’s digital natives don’t just want to buy what they want, when they want, how they want. They want the experience of buying to be outstanding - not just the product or service itself. Indeed, 80% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as what it sells.
Together with these new customer expectations has come an explosion in the number of channels across which they operate and an avalanche of data associated with those channels. As a result, marketers are faced with a fresh array of challenges:
How can companies connect with their customers across these dozens of channels? Our latest State of Marketing research found that just 28% of marketers are currently satisfied with their ability to engage customers across channels at scale.
How can companies unify and activate that data in meaningful ways? That same research found that only 47% of marketers are satisfied that they have a unified view of customer data sources.
How can the use of that data to provide personalised experience be reconciled with the customer demand for privacy?
While the use of AI by marketers to address these challenges is still nascent, AI is set to play a crucial role in empowering organisations to aggregate and analyse data, and meet both personalisation and privacy expectations of customers. Marketers’ adoption of AI has already grown by 44% since 2017 and those marketers are experimenting with AI across a wide array of uses including predictive journeys, automated social and messenger app interactions, and real-time next-best offers. Fundamentally, AI allows marketers to ask smarter questions, which in turn means they can deliver even better CX.
AI gives marketers unprecedented ability to gather data, use it to construct a unified view of the customer, and create a value exchange whereby companies that employ that data to create truly personalised and omni-channel experiences are rewarded with customer trust. Indeed, when trust is maintained at the core of CX and tailored engagement is delivered, the tension between privacy and personalisation disappears. Seventy-eight per cent of customers are more likely to trust companies with personal information if it’s used to fully personalise their experience.
Personalisation then, combined with data guardianship that empowers the customers to feel in control of their own information, has become a key competitive advantage, with high performers 7.1x more likely to be completely satisfied with their ability to balance personalisation with privacy.
CMOs and their teams are uniquely placed to unlock the right insights into the way customer expectations and behaviours are changing. One of the most important insights they have arrived at is that the high-performing teams are the ones that work together across departments and functions. Customers, after all, see one company, not disparate departments.
Those departments need to be unified under a common growth doctrine and share common KPIs in order for collaborative efforts to flourish. With a shared framework of what success looks like, functions that have traditionally never crossed paths can work together to achieve that vision of success. Sixty-five per cent of high-performers say individuals and teams are more aligned than ever before, while 93% of high performers have integrated marketing and advertising technology stacks versus 69% of underperformers.
Data unification has something of holy grail status when it comes to tackling the challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The mission to achieve data unification in order to achieve a 360-degree view of the customer is one in which AI is playing an especially important role, particularly through cloud-based applications.
However, rather than picturing data unification as some kind of single warehouse that stores every bit of information about a customer under one roof, it’s more useful – and more accurate – to understand it as an infrastructure from which marketers can pull insights using AI-based tools. Aggregated or federated data may live across any number of platforms. What unlocks its potential for actionable insights is AI’s ability to seamlessly access, analyse and connect the data from those different platforms.
High-performing teams are built on the kind of trust that ensures the psychological safety needed for that team to take risks, to sometimes fail, and to challenge the status quo. With a unified vision of success, they are empowered to work with new solutions and collaborate with other teams, and thrive on creating outstanding CX.
CMOs who foster this kind of environment will see innovation flourish and a commitment to CX inform every decision.
Growth now hinges on companies changing how they engage with customers and build their brands. By championing the voice of the customer at all touchpoints, and by not just being custodians of a brand but developing it in line with the customers’ expectations, CMOs now have the opportunity to be the most forward-looking and growth-focused members of their organisations.
Get more insights from the State of Marketing Report.