Back in 2016, Gartner predicted that CMOs would soon outspend CIOs on technology. As Gartner Research VP Jake Sorofman stated, “This is an important finding. It suggests that Marketing Technology, once a relatively narrow and specialized adjunct to enterprise IT, is now garnering investment nearly equivalent to the core systems that run the business. Customer preferences and behaviors have changed, and buying journeys are increasingly self-directed and digitally led.”
Chief Marketing Officers, along with Customer Experience Officers, are heavily dependent on a technology stack that engages prospects and customers across numerous channels and touchpoints quantifies those engagements and determine how to optimize and personalize them.
Traditionally, CIOs have been responsible for selecting, evaluating and implementing technology solutions for the entire enterprise. But increasingly, their business counterparts are directly involved in the selection and implementation of the technology that powers the Marketing and customer engagement stacks. Collaboration between these business and technical brains is crucial for the delivery of customer engagement systems.
Customer Experience Is Increasingly Technology-Driven
Today, brands increasingly differentiate on Customer experience, and customer interaction is taking place on digital channels. Creating and delivering excellent CX requires a deep understanding of customer needs and the development of coherent and delightful touchpoints for the website, contact center, chatbot, and more. What’s key here is that the CX team (which represents the business requirements and maybe not the underlying technology), and the IT team (which understands the technological possibilities and maybe not the CX objectives) must closely collaborate to drive technical outcomes that deliver flawless CX.
To better understand how these two teams are collaborating—and how they can improve—Cyara and the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) fielded research on the state of collaboration between IT teams and CX professionals in North America. The research yielded four key findings and many anecdotal insights, providing both CX and IT professionals with some useful best practices to embrace in their pursuit of delivering exceptional CX.
1. CX Is Often the Focal Point for Digital Transformation — and Must Be Data-Driven
We found that 82 percent of respondents are in the midst of some form of digital transformation initiative—be it on a broad scale or a project-based approach. With CX as a key differentiator for many brands, it is typically the focal point for Digital Transformation initiatives. There are many drivers for Digital Transformation projects but, given that many of these initiatives focus on enhancing customer experience, the majority of respondents reported they are grounding them in customer input.
60 percent of the respondents stated they are grounding their Digital Transformation initiatives primarily based on customer input and data. However, 19 percent of respondents said that their Digital Transformation initiatives were not driven by customer data at all, but rather were based on the executive direction or best practices. Several useful insights emerged from this area of the research:
- Successful transformations begin with the design of the experience and are enabled by technology and digital transformation.
- Both business and IT resources should work on agile teams to drive effective collaboration.
- CX business leaders and practitioners should acquire knowledge and competence to understand technical architecture and tools.
- Practitioners should consider real-world case studies to guide an experience-based transformation that delivers financial value.
2. CX Maturity Fosters Success
Those organizations that have more experience with CX are able to deliver a better CX. Interestingly, as organizations evolve in their CX maturity, the challenges they face change. CX veterans (those with more than five years’ experience defining CX) say their top challenge is pressure to execute quickly on their digital transformation goals, while those new to the field are focused on getting their initiatives funded or applying resources. Effective collaboration is a key strength: CX veterans are 87% more likely to agree that “Our IT and business teams have a common view of customer journeys, and effectively manage the experiences within those customer journeys.” Some key takeaways here are:
- To complement your team’s experience, use data and feedback (customer, employee, product, and brand) as input into digital design.
- Identify mature and skilled personnel for digital transformation and CX initiatives.
- CX practitioners should find a technical mentor in the organization and trade CX knowledge for technical acumen.
- Establish baseline measures and metrics for defining and targeting the financial impact of digital transformation.
3. Aggressive Schedules Result in Mistakes or Poorly Designed CX
The pressure to execute quickly can be disastrous. 58 percent of respondents reported that unrealistic expectations on time-to-market resulted in errors or poorly designed CX. The need for speed is generally driven by rapidly changing customer expectations, as well as competitive pressures. Respondents offered two recommendations:
- Reduce development cycles by collaborating early and often.
- DevOps, with its focus on automation, is a key enabler for achieving speed and quality and thereby ensuring the success of digital transformation initiatives.
4. Mutual Understanding Is Critical for Effective Collaboration
When asked to describe the quality of inter-departmental collaboration, most respondents report having a solid working relationship with their peers in IT. However, 92 percent said they have been impacted by a poor collaboration that resulted in creating inferior CX, missed deadlines, and delivering experiences that did not match original project specifications. Qualitative comments offered by respondents provide some excellent guidelines for collaboration of IT and business teams:
- Research collaboration maturity models (such as thefutureorganization.com) to define where you are and steps to improve your outcomes.
- Ensure that senior leadership from both IT and business are aligned on goals.
- Include IT with Marketing and CX teams in customer journey mapping exercises.
- Lead digital experience with dedicated members who have relevant, technical knowledge and a good understanding of agility and collaboration.
Now that complex technology powers all Marketing and CX initiatives, it is imperative that Marketing and business teams collaborate effectively with their IT counterparts to design and deliver the outstanding, differentiated customer experiences that will delight customers, and keep competitors—new and old—at bay.