The changing business dynamics and challenges brought about by the pandemic have put the marketer’s role under a spotlight. With market volatility and reduced demand impacting revenues and profitability, it was empathy, agility and frugality of response that saw successful organizations through this period.
As we see new shoots of hope in the new year, businesses must introspect and rethink business models, sales channels, and delivery operations. Agility is an imperative, with planning in sprints rather than involving long-term commitment of resources.
What lies at the heart of everything is the importance of delivering on customer expectations despite challenges. This means rethinking customer experience journeys, satisfaction metrics, and turnaround time. Marketers must step up, take charge, and re-formulate ways of delivering customer experience.
Some trends that were already visible pre-COVID-19 and but have significantly accelerated now are:
- Subscription Economy: Both in B2B and B2C segments, the trend is moving towards subscription versus a one-time purchase. Therefore, customer experience in terms of the customer getting the promised benefit is imperative to ensure a continuous revenue stream. The future sales pipeline is determined more by the service function rather than marketing or sales.
- Heightened Regulatory Compliance: Growing privacy concerns, cyber threats, online data breaches or frauds, and geo-political sensitivity means greater emphasis on regulations and compliance. Businesses will need to build this into their plans, considering several layers of workflow and processes. While this will benefit the consumer, it is also likely to increase complexity and decrease response times.
- New Delivery Models: Given the inherent risks due to human interactions in the current scenario, delivering on expectations despite the constraints is the new true test for business resilience. This means digitization of end-to-end processes even in traditional industries. However, the need for ‘human touch’ remains.
As the market matures and the innovation curve continues to taper, there is little differentiation between products. Therefore, service and last mile experience become paramount. The customer vote will be in favor of brands that consistently provide a better experience.
Given social distancing and lack of a personal connection, customers’ patience wear thin. They expect an immediate response, irrespective of any operational challenges that the organization might be facing.
New age technology for the ‘new normal’
Technology has a big role to play in meeting changing customer expectations. Discussions on technology in marketing need to move on from martech/adtech for lead generation and nurturing. There needs to be a broader discussion of new technologies such as automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to drive value chain transformation for customer delivery.
Frictionless and Simplified Customer Experiences
While technology must lie at the core of marketing strategies, a ‘rip and replace’ approach isn’t the answer. The idea is to liberate digital transformation from the complexity of devices, data sources and technology.
Technologies like RPA can help capture data across systems such as websites, and applications like SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, etc., even for disparate systems. Automation has become an interface between you and the backend technology, thus enabling a frictionless and simplified experience.
This is important since a typical enterprise has innumerable systems, technology platforms, applications, and data repositories that don’t all natively play well together. Many experts say that the failure to solve the fragmentation problem is the main reason that productivity growth has slowed this past decade, despite massive investments in new technologies.
By using robots to work across systems and take on low-value manual tasks, we can remove the roadblocks that today inhibit software, applications, and people from collaborating effectively. Adding AI and Machine Learning into the mix lets us expand into cognitive processes, improving both the speed and the quality of decision-making and actions across the organization. With the elimination of repetitive, tedious tasks, enterprises will see increased efficiency, responsiveness, and resilience. Work becomes more meaningful, and eventually, customers will benefit.
Delivering Empathy in the Last Mile
As marketers seek answers amidst uncertainty and doubt, ‘empathy’ for customers will override all other rules in the marketing playbook. Eventually, customer experience is determined, not by dressed-up advertising and promises, but by their interactions during last mile delivery. For people to display empathy, they need to be liberated from mundane time-consuming tasks. Employees can now weave automation into their workdays when they need it, how they want it, and without dependency on technical skills. This frees up their time to focus on customer engagement.
AI technologies are also making it possible to interact using natural language, with the help of chatbots and voice.
Clarion call for CMOs in the new decade
The imperative for marketers to step forward and befriend technology is all too clear. Step in and get your hands dirty. Else we are never going to figure it out, as is true with many other things. And that is a mistake we cannot afford to make at the moment.
Read the Full Pioneers of Automation Blog here -
About Rajesh Kumar:
Rajesh is currently the Regional Head of Marketing for UiPath. His career as a marketing leader mirrors the growth and evolution of the technology sector in India and the Asia Pacific. For nearly three decades, he has led marketing, sales, operations & strategy for Enterprise, SMB, consumer, and channel ecosystems.
Rajesh is a strong advocate of B2B marketing and is a regular speaker at Industry/marketing conferences. He sits on APAC CMO Council advisory board, India Board of the Marketing Society, Board Advisor for BD Foundation- a nonprofit fostering inclusion and has been a member of CII National Marketing Committee, India (2013-14), Chairperson of Advisory Council for DMAI convention (2013-2016) and Chairman- World Brand Congress (2012-2013).