MarTech Interview with Clay Walton-House, Managing Director of Integrated Customer Loyalty Solutions at PK

In order to build better customer experiences, marketers and brand managers have to grasp a better understanding of their customer’s behaviors while constantly finding innovative ways in which to give them a customer journey worth coming back to; Clay Walton-House, Managing Director of Integrated Customer Loyalty Solutions at PK shares some thoughts:


Welcome to this MarTech chat Clay, tell us more about PK and your role?

I’m the Managing Director of Integrated Customer Loyalty Solutions at PK. I advise Fortune 500 companies and brands on successful engagement strategies that increase retention, accelerate growth and drive customer loyalty. I guide clients through end-to-end transformation, including strategy, design, visioning, building and launching new experiences that optimize over time.

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What does it take today for marketers and brand managers to design a customer journey and lifecycle that leads to better retention? 

Marketers and brand managers should aim to lead with a human-centered view of the customer versus a linear, product-centered approach. Customer journeys ebb, flow and repeat, like a dimensional infinity loop. Research and data-driven insights on audience needs and motivations as it relates to the brand needs to be integrated into a regular process around the journey, design, development and optimization. The data must connect back to the customer at critical touchpoints. So, rethinking customer journeys with an omnichannel approach and expanding the aperture of where those journeys go is critical to authenticially reach people and increase retention.

Can you talk about some high-value customer experiences (and examples!) that you’ve seen leaders in tech / other industries focus on?

High-value experiences are ones that turn into an ever-evolving relationship beyond the initial transaction. The transaction itself can be myopic and limiting, but customer experiences that transcend the purchase journey by establishing a relationship with the brand are foundational to high-value experiences. 

The non-transactional engagements of a brand add personalized depth through sophisticated content and community. It underscores the value of leveraging quality and intelligent customer touchpoints through marketing technologies and automation. Many digital native brands born in an era of e-commerce, like Casper Mattress and Tesla, execute masterful, high-value experiences with modernized, digital journeys that function as relationship builders. Both Casper Mattress and Tesla offer accessible and convenient experiences—they intimately understand that the experience is more important than the product itself. Leading with experience over product is the key differentiator between high-value and mediocre customer experiences.

What are some best practices that you feel users of marketing automation technologies need to be keeping in mind when driving online customer journeys today?

To be successful, marketing automation technologies must integrate data that creates a 360° view of the customer. So often, data collection is siloed or compartmentalized. It’s important to consider how brands combining data that is first-party owned, zero-party customer provided, third-party purchased, science-derived and inferred. Leveraging a holistic view of the data is how brands create a more intelligent understanding of the customer. However, the data must also be scaled for automation, which has become increasingly important for customer journey optimization and generating experiential content. Marketing technologies have a manual component to managing the data and controlled groups, but scaling requires content cohesion across all formats and platforms.

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A few predictions that you have for the future of MarTech and the future of the B2B customer experience?

There is an assumption that automation, especially breakthroughs in AI technologies, provides us with a panacea. Yet, we’ve only just scratched the surface of AI, and there is a lot left to be realized. Our dependencies on data are changing day-to-day, and its full potential is still unknown. We may have developed an incredible automated tool but learning how to optimize it is the other half of the equation. It’s an exciting time because there is much more to come

Looking ahead, I anticipate a heightened focus on transmedia platforms, meaning that brands do not digitally show up on their own. Brands exist well beyond their website in digitally adaptive environments—integrated and invested within distributed networks. As such, brand management is a significant undertaking, and marketers will need to meet people where conversations are happening.

A few takeaways for marketing leaders: top factors they should keep in mind as they plan for the rest of the year, innovate and expand their teams?

Many organizations need to reassess their value delivery to the customer, especially as marketing technologies evolve. An easy way to create immediate value is to address basic organizational structure. Most marketing departments are not tightly coupled with a digital team of researchers or data scientists, and it shows in the customer experience. Product teams and marketers who combine forces as an interdisciplinary team are poised to bridge disconnects in customer journeys to create rewarding experiences. A unified team can invest in emerging technologies and adopt best practices without further distraction or discord. After all, there is a cost to chasing new capabilities, but a cross-functional effort and partnership can cut through the noise and take advantage of timely opportunities.

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PK is the experience engineering firm. Together with the world’s most customer-obsessed companies, we combine great design and strong tech to build pioneering experiences that accelerate outcomes for client’s customers, partners and employees. Through cutting-edge technology and a commitment to deep craftsmanship, we help our clients run the future. PK, backed by global investment firm The Carlyle Group, is over 4,500 people strong in 22 cities across four countries. 

Clay Walton-House is the Managing Director of Integrated Customer Loyalty Solutions at PK. Clay helps Fortune 500 companies design and implement new and interesting business models and customer engagement strategies that accelerate growth and build loyalty.

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