Technology gives modern marketers new tools to build closer engagement with customers – but to harness their potential, we must change the way we work. In a recent post, I explored the need for modern marketers to evolve from emotional to data supported decision-making. Marketers have to be able to command technology and understand data, while at the same time making the emotional connection that underpins all great marketing. We must also change the environment and structure we work within, which sets the stage for what we can achieve.
How marketing organizations operate is changing. Most of us will have worked in a campaign-based environment at some point, where success was defined by strict timelines, budgets and objectives, defined by the campaign. The campaign culture inherently lends itself and directs the marketer toward a product-centric view. If you stop and reflect on the campaigns you’ve run, the majority will have been product based, from the ubiquitous ‘product launch’ to ‘sustain’, ‘upgrade’ and ‘price promotion’ campaigns – none of which put the customer at the centre. To play a larger and more valued role, tomorrow’s digitally empowered marketer must never leave the side of the customer. Tomorrow’s marketer considers reality through the customers’ eyes, thinks about the entire customer experience and charts a journey that lasts weeks, months, or even years.
Nowhere is this imperative more urgently needed than in financial services, where consumer trust and confidence remain low. Despite trust rising 8% since 2012, it was again ranked last in the 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer. How can this trend be reversed? Only by delivering an experience for customers based on data insights will this change. It makes business sense too, with pricing pressures and shrinking margins driven by low interest rates, rising claims and little or no cross sell. Marketing has a critical role to play in turning this around.
The need to drive sales at specific times won’t disappear – however the marketing activity to do this needs to occur within a continuous narrative that reflects brand values and which is focused on the long-term customer relationship. As Gary Shaw, global insurance leader at Deloitte notes, insurers need to become 'disruptive innovators' and look outward at customer behaviours, technology options to create new ambitions that will drive sustainable growth. Technology, used well, enables marketers to scale their efforts – to be in more places, deliver more personal experiences that offer a service experience that is seamless.
The degree to which companies can make the shift to a customer-centric view will depend on breaking down some all too common barriers:
- Silos of customer data that the marketing department may not have access to.
- Different touch points managed by different teams across various communication channels, on- and off-line.
- Difficulty in quantifying the success or failure of our marketing campaigns and the underlying ROI.
Regulatory issues are a common refrain when discussing these topics however it is worth noting that the financial services industry has been one of the most enthusiastic adopters of cloud technology. Aon plc, a leading global provider of insurance and reinsurance brokerage is using AWS to deliver client solutions more quickly, with richer risk assessments and at a price that enables it to pass on savings to customers. This embrace of new technology and working practices challenges the conventional wisdom that companies in regulated industries like financial services are unable to change. Where there is a will, there is a way.
We are at a tipping point, the mobile phone is the UK’s #1 way to bank. The winners in this reality will be those who help us ‘get our finances done’ at our convenience, on our terms. The experience of the customer is the game – what are you doing to build this customer engagement?