MarTech Interview with Donna Tuths, Chief Transformation and Innovation Officer and CMO at Sutherland

Why will customer care initiatives be more crucial for marketers as businesses resume hybrid work models through 2021? Donna Tuths, CMO at Sutherland has some thoughts:


Welcome to this MarTech chat Donna, tell us more about yourself and your role at Sutherland?

As Sutherland’s Chief Transformation and Innovation Officer and Chief Marketing Officer, I am focused on building a global practice that delivers exceptionally engineered experiences for both our customers and employees. Part of my purview as CT&IO is leading Sutherland Labs, our global full-service experience consultancy, which combines human insight and design, customer and channel strategy, content and media, process engineering, analytics and intelligence, and technology in a studio setting.

My career experience spans both technology consulting and advertising—across branding, customer relationship management, customer experience design, digital marketing, multi-channel marketing and data-driven marketing.

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We’ve all been observing the rapid pace of digital transformation that the Covid19 pandemic brought on, a few top thoughts you’d like to share? 

The mass migration to a virtual world brought on by the pandemic has meant accelerated digital transformation for businesses and consumer alike—consolidating more and more of the customer journey into digital channels. This has in turn put great pressure on brands to figure out how to be genuinely human across all channels still available to them. 

This means that customer care is going to have a bigger role in the virtual world—and will therefore become a bigger focus for marketers. With the omnichannel capabilities available today, marketers have literally terabytes of data generated every day by their interactions with their customers that could be mined to hyper-personalize interactions, wow customers and make every touchpoint count.

While the last year and a lot of 2021 will go in strengthening digital policies across industries, how do you feel marketing and sales teams should adapt to a changing environment from now on?

Even when we return to some state of “normalcy” post-pandemic, the need for brands to be more human in an increasingly virtual world is going to stay. This means marketers will need to get reacquainted with the post-Covid customer. They will need to rediscover how changes in consumer preferences, affinities, purchase behaviors, brand loyalties, and more, impact brands in this new world. Therefore, harnessing data to improve these interactions, deliver on and exceed customer expectations, and enable flawless remote support will be increasingly important.

What are some best practices that you feel users of marketing automation technologies need to be keeping in mind when driving marketing processes with this as part of their MarTech stack today?

Make sure that technology enables you to still interact like a human with your customers. That’s to say, rather than replacing humans, automation should elevate what humans do, giving them powers that reach beyond space and time. While humans are busy interacting with customers, AI-enabled bots trained on sentiment data analysis and more can scour chat, email and other channels to identify customers that need help, and fast!

 A few predictions on the future of MarTech?

2021 may be the year we really see AI-enabled marketing explode. This would literally give the words ‘marketing automation’ new meaning. With huge amounts of interaction data available to many companies and advances in machine learning, we could see next-generation, real-time, AI-enabled marketing where signals are detected and hyper-personalized messages and offers are instantly dispatched with nary a marketer or marketing operations person lifting a finger.

As marketers increasingly own experiences across the enterprise and its many customer-facing touchpoints, the opportunities to leverage data to improve consumer experience will continue to grow. The potential for impact may, indeed, be greatest where those experiences and interactions are remote.

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A few takeaways for marketing leaders and CMOs/CEOs through 2021: top factors they should keep in mind? 

I can’t emphasize enough how critical it will be for brands to inject more humanity into

the fabric of their customer interactions, especially in a commercial world increasingly 

mediated through a screen, keyboard, headset, or chatbot.  

If they aren’t already doing so, brands must get more intentional about how it would like to be 

experienced virtually because that experience won’t just contribute to your brand’s identity but become its identity. To become more human, brands will want to focus on these five key tenets:

Interact like a human. Cognitive and experiential technologies will make it possible for brands and their customers to interact more like real people. Each encounter at every touchpoint is more human as a result. Conversational and contextual AI and experiential technologies will become more central to customer relationships moving forward.

Care like a human. Customer care is getting a “promotion” and becoming more central to your brand relationships. While customer experience (CX) is so much more than what’s traditionally been called “customer service” (think of CX as the sum of all the interactions a brand has with its customers), customer care has never been more central and is going to have a bigger role in a virtual world. 

Connect like a human. The power of employee experience (EX) to drive your customer experience will become more apparent. Moving forward, EX will be more essential than ever as every front-line employee’s ability to embody a brand’s culture, character, and values will make all the difference.

Understand like a human. More and more customer interaction data will get converted into insight to drive both a better experience and stronger revenue. For brands that have already invested heavily in omnichannel, find ways to take advantage of the data that flows from those interactions to improve the experience, personalize it, and—ideally—drive added revenue. 

Provide choice like a human. A brand’s ability to foster human “agency” by providing customer choice is key. Customers want to be asked how they wish to be communicated with, and how they’d prefer for a problem to be resolved.

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Sutherland makes digital experiences 𝐡𝐮𝐦𝐚𝐧 by combining human-centered design with real-time Analytics, AI, Cognitive Technology & Automation to help create exceptionally engineered Brand Experiences.

Donna is Sutherland’s Chief Transformation and Innovation Officer and Chief Marketing Officer. With over 30 years’ experience, combining management consulting and agency management, Donna has deep expertise in global branding, customer relationship management, customer experience design, digital marketing, multi-channel marketing and data-drive marketing enablement. She is one of the few senior executives to span both technology consulting and advertising.

Donna is responsible for a global practice that delivers exceptionally engineered experiences for both customers and employees.

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