5 Steps Marketing, Sales and IT Leaders Need to Take Together to Create a Strong and Profitable Post-COVID-19 CX Strategy
A strong customer engagement model is a way of differentiating your organization and creating stronger customer loyalty, while potentially reducing costs. As the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the world, entire industries had to rapidly rethink this model as a means of explicitly remaining in business. Satya Nadella of Microsoft had perhaps the most famous quote on this pace of change, saying that Microsoft saw “two years of digital transformation in two months.” In our own customer base, we saw that often the resources didn’t exist to take the luxury of two months, and instead, company-wide digital transformation had to be completed in close to two weeks.
This has put tremendous pressure on the sales and marketing functions, as well as IT departments supporting their initiatives. Moreover, the move to an online world, as well as cost pressures —as a result of the pandemic — forced a hard look at which vendors and tools were most necessary to their ongoing success. Companies are putting much more scrutiny on whether they are getting enough return on investment, especially with their Post COVID-19 CX strategy or game plans.
When we looked at the results of our software user surveys across a large number of software categories in the first three months of the year compared to results in mid-March when the pandemic really accelerated, we saw a 7% drop in users stating they were likely to recommend their software. This sharp decline in such a short period of time has forced innovative technology leaders to make tough choices, as organizations tighten their belts around what is truly important to remain operational.
To truly focus on successful customer engagement and customer experience – while also supporting rapid-transformation to the digital world – business leaders must take a holistic approach that embraces Sales, Marketing and IT considerations. These five steps can help facilitate seamlessly collaboration and the best outcome for customers:
Ensure You Are Part of the Process With a Defined Role
While traditionally grouped into the “IT” bucket, it is rare that senior IT leaders will lead digital transformation. What works best is a combination of Marketing, Sales and IT leaders working together to build a cohesive strategy that focuses on business outcomes and how to achieve those with a sustainable IT technology infrastructure.
This is not to say that IT cannot bring ideas to the table –indeed organizations are striving for that type of insight –but our research shows that technology decisions made in siloes are less likely to succeed in the long term.
Conduct an audit of all technologies that are currently being used by various departments to engage customers throughout the full customer journey.
This is everything from lead generation, to the Sales process, managing service and deployment, as well as customer loyalty. This audit will help establish your baseline capabilities and potentially allow for sharing key capabilities across different parts of the organization. In addition, as protecting cost will always be a key issue of any recession, there may be opportunities to rationalize spend by eliminating extraneous applications.
IT leaders need to work with Marketing and Sales leads to map both the current and future state of the customer engagement model.
When moving to a completely digital customer engagement model, organizations needs to ensure they have the resources to support sales and customer service activities. IT departments are always well-positioned to understand the implications of implementing enterprise software across multiple departments.
Facilitating discussions on customer engagement with IT can allow the IT function to become a key driver of improvements and leverage existing technology to support rapid digital transformation. Together with IT, marketing and sales leads can more easily identify what is working today, what needs to change in order to support the new environment, and what gaps exist in the current technology stack. Do so with the lens of what is important to your customers: They want to know that you are reliable, providing them with continued business value, and that you can help them innovate.
Be prepared to rapidly deploy additional technology to support customer engagement.
Organizations will look for those applications and indeed those organizations that are going to best help them navigate the challenging and uncertain times ahead.
Findings from our survey data of tens of thousands of emotionally-driven user reviews continually reveal that the biggest driver of satisfaction with software is a strong correlation between business value and the application itself.
But, beyond the correlation to business value, what drive satisfaction with software vendors is their relationship with customers and users. Ratings in the areas of service, negotiation, product impact, conflict resolution, strategy, and innovation have resulted in rich data sets on the customer experience – from procurement and implementation to service and support.
We call this powerful indicator of user sentiment toward a vendor and its product the Net Emotional Footprint.
Vendors that provide a strong emotional footprint, or a strong relationship in helping to innovate and improve, are the ones most likely to be rated highly by their users.
Our data shows that customer reliance on a vendor to support their innovation, whether it’s with friendly contract negotiation through challenging service times or providing a reliable and stable product that will never be compromised, have longer-term impacts on satisfaction with the software – even more so than features and price.
Don’t Stop Evolving.
Over the past few months, business have had to rethink established Sales and Marketing processes at breakneck speeds, while simultaneously transitioning technology to accommodate new working environments.
As a business leader, this is an opportunity for you to transform your personal brand and to collaborate with IT leadership to become revenue-driven,with a focus not only on technology’s role in addressing business needs, but also how it can be harnessed more effectively to stay ahead of customers’ needs.
Black Swan events like a global pandemic reset customer expectations. The last two months have seen one of the largest and fastest global transformations in history – as hundreds of millions of people and businesses had to modify their sales and support processes in days. A state of normalcy will return, but it is going to look different from pre-COVID operations. Customers are now going to expect greater flexibility, an increased level of service and support, and greater demonstration of the value you provide. Not just while the emergency continues but going forward as well.