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MarTech Interview with Martin Wilkinson-Brown, CMO at Sitel Group

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“My best advice for companies in this situation is to ensure the technologies they’re deploying and wanting to sell are grounded and aligned to specific business needs.”

Hi Martin, congratulations on the new platform launch. Tell us about the marketing game plan behind launching a CXP tool in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.

While our new EXP+™ solution happened to launch during the pandemic, it was not due to COVID-19. It’s a continuation of the journey we’ve been on for the past few years, reframing and re-examining how we help our customers create successful customer experience (CX) programs.

We’ve found that the COVID-19 pandemic has led many organizations to recognize just how important having a strong CX outsourcing partner is, and we’re proud to be that partner for many of the best-loved brands across the globe. Our recent COVID-19: the CX impact study demonstrated how the pandemic is further accelerating the need for digital transformation; in fact, 35% of all consumers and 43% of Gen Z consumers prefer self-service solutions for resolving issues.

One of the things we definitely did observe during the crisis was that it was a catalyst for change. Our clients want more digital solutions, more digital capabilities and we recognize brands are looking for ways to simplify their CX delivery to be more agile. It has been – and continues to be – an opportunity for us to deliver additional value for our clients as we partner with them to realize their digital transformation goals.

EXP+ helps us to better bring to life the support we offer clients across end-to-end CX management from performance management to chat, email and voice-based contact center solutions to digital transformation, automation, data-driven insights and CX consulting. Sitel Group’s depth of understanding and CX know-how comes from connecting customers with brands 4.5 million times every day, and 35+ years of experience at the forefront of CX management and delivery. We’re delivering greater value by creating proprietary playbooks, fine-tuning implementation, driving iterative improvements and providing faster ramp-up times. Our deep expertise allows us to help brands and their customers build emotional connections, as well as provide a better experience for our own associates. EXP+ is designed to scale and fit brands’ needs today and in the constantly changing landscape of tomorrow. Each element of EXP+ works together for flexible integration and allows us to provide a wide range of tailored solutions to global brands.

Good time to simplify GTM strategy, add more value from leveraging Adtech to lead gen tools: what’s the most exciting part about being a CMO in the fast-growth tech company?

In the technology and CX worlds, it’s never boring – best practices, new technologies and experiences are constantly changing in this fast-paced digital world. There’s always a new technology or advancement we’re keeping an eye on to implement within our organization and client programs. The ever-changing nature of the technology also allows us to be creative in our approaches and find new paths to success for our clients across a variety of industries. It’s been a particularly interesting time to watch how customer experiences are evolving practically overnight – adapting to these changes has been a unique, but rewarding challenge.

Do you believe that CRMs are slowly moving toward becoming high-end Customer Experience management and delivery platforms? Please tell us about your future roadmap at Sitel.

In the past, CRM products were more organization-centric and employees used them to track activity and serve customers. Today, we see more and more interaction between CRM platforms and the end customer. Some CRM platforms provide self-service capabilities that enable the end customer to interact directly with the CRM and receive the information they need. This year, within our proprietary omnichannel customer engagement solution, we released a self-service portal to help build more personalized experiences across customer touchpoints.

We natively integrated into the core CRM functions, and the main benefit is providing a better link between customers and contact centers with the right level of automation to deflect level one requests. We are also working to release an integration with artificial intelligence (AI) bot providers to allow our customers to link the bot to the CRM, creating seamless transitions when transferring a consumer from chatbots to a human being.

You bring in a sea of experience and wisdom from Marketing, Sales and Operations. What is so different about today’s Customer Experience management principles as compared to practices back in the early 2000s and 2010s?

Certainly the speed of technology and the introduction of more digital solutions has vastly changed the industry. There’s no longer a standard for what works across the board. We’ve seen more and more the advantages of fully tailored solutions in creating successful marketing and CX programs for our customers and even the rate at which those programs are evolving has accelerated over the past few years, and particularly over the past six months. The digital world has turned customer experiences on its head since the early 2000s, a once very transactional business with a focus on emotional connections. Starting from a place that was more transactional, the rise of digital is interesting in that it has driven the rise of emotion creating a paradox–the rise of digital technology has actually increased the importance of emotional connections.

Now, we have almost unlimited technology to integrate with the human touch, and as a result of digital transformation, customer interactions have become increasingly complex.

Digital has helped us automate a lot of the simple, transactional tasks, so the emotional impact of every interaction has become even more important as the touchpoints with the customers are often fewer. When we do make a human connection with a customer, the emotional impact must be greater to differentiate from competitors. Figuring out the best balance for each customer and each industry is an ongoing and exciting challenge – with technology and a digital CX framework the possibilities are endless.

Go-to-market strategies have changed overnight during the COVID-19 crisis. As a CMO, would you stick to your gut feeling, or would you likely explore new synergies floating in the ecosystem?

Through this ever-changing time, it’s a combination of sticking to what you know and testing new strategies. What worked at the beginning of this year may no longer be relevant and, often, the only way to truly know that is through trial and error. Further, it’s really important to ensure you leverage the data intelligence you have available in your organization. Always be sure to respond to changes and make decisions by testing and learning – being able to adapt and be agile is critical to competing within the marketplace. To find marketing success, it’s important to keep a pulse on new technologies, but most importantly it’s crucial to understand the customer perspective and what they are looking for in their experiences with brands. From there crafting a program with a combination of human and technology elements is the strongest path to success.

How does Sitel’s EXP+ balance the two equations for the Marketing teams?

Balancing the emotional human connection and technology landscape is a huge part of why we created our new EXP+ platform. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer – every brand will need a different solution depending on their product or service, their customer base, the industry and so many additional factors. Using foundational technology and building upon it with human expertise to meet the needs of individual brands is the future of CX, and where we see the most success.

Please tell our audience about your remote workplace technology suite: 

Our work at home solution, Sitel at Home™, is built on a foundation of scalable and tested technology, and 13 years of experience delivering CX through remote work programs. Currently, we have 60% of our global workforce working within our Sitel at Home delivery method. The pandemic has expedited this program, which has been active for many years and has made us more resilient on a global level throughout the pandemic.

With so many of our people working at home, it’s critical that we institute the best communication tools for our agents. Our suite of products is built around performance efficiency, culture, engagement and security. This includes a variety of different technologies including limiting background noise through AI, real-time agent coaching and the following:

  • Smart Agent Assist– Real-time AI speech and text analytics integrated with associates’ knowledge base, providing agents with suggested responses. Through the integration of smart agent assist we have seen reduction in new hire learning curves, reduction in average handle time (AHT), increases in process compliance, accuracy of support and more.
  • AI Bots & Interaction Analytics– Advanced chatbot solutions drive engagement at home that can exceed on-site engagement, create 1:1 interactions using polls and gamification and effectively monitor, coach and support agents in real time. Interaction analytics can create efficient data extraction, leveraging value from customer contacts to improve CX and business performance, understand customer sentiment, increase productivity and create enhanced customer outcomes.
  • Secure Video – Video capabilities for coaching are integrated into our secure VDI connection, allowing teams to share information critical to driving improvement. This allows coaches to easily replicate face-to-face interactions, and increase connection and engagement among teams.
  • Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) & Geo-location– We use PCDuo and token-based approaches to ensure effective MFA prior to accessing our secure network, and activate geolocation capabilities detect login locations and trigger action if the agent is not in an approved work location, leading to high-quality security for our customers.
  • mart Bio-Metrics– Through voice and facial recognition, Sitel ensures the correct agents are logged into the secure network, and this process can remove lengthy authentication processes, decreasing AHT.
  • Login Adherence – Remote agent login acceptances are mapped to IEX schedules to ensure compliance and prevent unauthorized logins.

We have also found that Sitel at Home allows us greater access to talent, by extending beyond geographical limits; provides our agents with better world-life balance and increased engagement; allows for better business continuity in times of crisis; and most importantly, delivers better performance with world-class security for our customers. With Sitel at Home, we’ve seen 32% lower absenteeism, 27% lower attribution and 82% agent satisfaction.

How hard or easy is it going to be for a B2B Marketing Technology company to achieve Revenue goals as customers have no choice but to shrink budgets?

There are certainly many challenges associated with achieving revenue goals as customers lower budgets.

My best advice for companies in this situation is to ensure the technologies they’re deploying and wanting to sell are grounded and aligned to specific business needs. They must have real, tangible benefits right now for businesses and be able to produce immediate results. For example, at Sitel Group, at the beginning of the pandemic, we were able to support our clients with their immediate needs and build a chatbot in a day to address their unexpected, immediate needs. Technology needs to be integrated and address pain points. However, it’s not just about offering technology. Companies must look at ways that technology can address the urgent pain points today, and think about how it can be integrated for tomorrow, with a longer roadmap in mind.

Your favorite webinar / podcast series in the B2B marketing space:

My favorite webinar right now is of course our very own EmpowerCX NOW Spotlight Series, a free webinar series that covers the customer experience industry’s most sought-after topics.

But outside of our company, I would like to give a shout out to Experience This! podcast hosted by our good friends Dan Gingiss and Joey Coleman. Each week, they have a conversational approach to talking about hot topics and emerging trends in the CX industry. We were lucky enough to partner with them to provide content for the show for seasons 2 and 3, working closely with Joey and Dan to inspire listeners through thought-provoking content.

A piece of advice to all young Marketing professionals in the current context of shrinking jobs and opportunities in the North America:

My No. 1 piece of advice to young marketing professionals is to gain a breadth of experience. To be a good marketer, you need experience from across the business and a deep understanding of the products and services your business offers. This enables you to be more authentic in your marketing and develop better storytelling for emotional connections, which drive success. Listening and learning from experts in the field and in your company – from financial perspectives to technology – will take you far in the long run.

Tag a person from the industry whose answers you would like to see here:

Philip Schiller, SVP of Worldwide Marketing at Apple. Philip and his team have created memorable and creative campaigns, helping the company become the iconic household name it is today. The brand is so strong that people can identify it through purely visual entities such as advertisements, without any attachment to the name or logo. I think that’s what every marketer strives for.

Thank you, Martin! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.

As Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) for Sitel Group, Martin Wilkinson-Brown leads the Global Marketing and Communications team to drive marketing strategies, enhance the group’s go-to-market offerings and provide innovative customer experience management solutions.

Prior to becoming CMO, Martin was the vice president of Global Marketing and Communications and has held numerous roles within the company since joining over 17 years ago. His expertise spans Operations, Learning & Development, Process Improvement and more.

Martin studied Glass, Architectural Glass & Ceramics at the University of Sunderland in the United Kingdom. He is based out of the group’s global HQ in Miami.

Sitel Group

As a global leader in end-to-end customer experience (CX) products and solutions, Sitel Group® partners with the world’s best-loved brands, from Fortune 500 companies to local startups, to design, build and deliver a competitive edge across all customer touchpoints.

EXP+™, Sitel Group’s Enterprise Experience Platform, is a flexible solution with complete cloud capability, designed to simplify the delivery of end-to-end CX services, while boosting efficiency, effectiveness and customer satisfaction. EXP+ creates a robust ecosystem by harnessing the power of four connected product families: Empower, Engage, Explore and Evolve.

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