By Andrew Stevens
Digital technologies have changed the commercial landscape by providing both consumers and enterprises the tools they need to browse, shop and buy online. They can compare a wide range of products, prices—even terms and delivery options—from their homes and offices and choose which is most appropriate and convenient for them. The challenge for marketing has become finding out exactly what customers regard as most appropriate and convenient. And for this, marketers now have tools to assist them.
New technology is changing the marketing function in two key ways.
First, like their customers, marketers now have the ability to track and respond to prospects and buyers. Second, marketers are increasingly expected to be aware of, understand and implement the new technologies to meet their organization’s objectives. In many cases, this compels the marketing department to work closely with IT and with other internal departments to gather information and then to design effective marketing campaigns with an emphasis on customer loyalty and retention.
Because of these shifts, marketing leadership positions have become more complex—and more prominent. The expansion of the marketing role is forcing a redefinition of the way the marketing department operates. As a result, marketing leadership is playing a larger part inside the organization as the custodian of the customer experience. In customer-driven organizations, marketing leaders are now assuming responsibility for representing customers’ needs and making them a priority in corporate decision-making.
Effective marketing in this new world requires tracking and defining the customer journey. That involves looking at every interaction the customer has with every part of the organization to understand and assess exactly what it is the customer wants and needs. It also means determining how best to satisfy these demands. To be successful, bank marketers must now work across multiple departments, including sales, service, operations, IT and legal. These days, that’s what it takes to deliver experiences that meet customer expectations and ultimately create advocates who will support the overall business growth initiatives.
Of course, not all banks are operating at the same technological speed or level. In the current evolutionary environment, a good question to ask is: What type of marketer are you? Using the definitions below, you can determine if you are a traditionalist, a modernist or a futurist—and where or how you need to progress:
- Traditionalists have most often been associated with branding and merchandizing, creative design, advertising, media and customer feedback programs, all focused on the emotional journey a buyer will take. The focus is largely on traditional marketing tactics, such as brand management, public relations and content creation. The communications focus is largely on outbound communications as opposed to interaction. Too often, the traditional marketing organization is most often seen as a cost center within the business. The CEO relies on a traditionalist marketing department to deliver brand awareness and customer acquisition.
- Modernists focus on both the tactical and strategic objectives of the business and have a larger voice in developing programs for existing customers—as well as for new customer acquisition—through continuing education. They expand demand generation through creation of new business development teams that map the customer persona. Customer loyalty programs are key to the modernist, who is interested in understanding customer behavior. Technology and automation play a key role in helping to track the buyer’s entire journey, as well as providing return on investments. From a communications perspective, the modernist is interested in both outbound and inbound communications. The CEO relies on the modernist for delivering a personalized online and mobile experience in this digital era.
- Futurists are focused on strategy and growth initiatives and believe that having a comprehensive customer experience strategy is key to delivering revenue growth for the business. They look at the entire customer lifecycle. That requires integration with cross-functional teams, many of which—though they don’t report to marketing today—have a substantial impact on the customer experience. They are also data driven. They base business decisions on the customer insights they’ve gleaned through analysis of the customer journey. They are focused on delivering real-time personal interactions at every touchpoint. Furthermore, they are able to deliver a 360-degree view of the customer by mining data, both internally and externally. The CEO relies on the futurist for leading and informing strategic decision making across the business functions, driving customer experience, creating customer advocacy and delivering revenue.
As with all transformational eras, some marketers have changed and adopted a modernist or futurist point of view while others have maintained a traditionalist mindset. However, to survive and thrive in the digital world, marketers must begin to think and act like futurists.
To become a futurist, a bank marketer must take the initiative to develop the internal relationships needed to monitor and map the customer journey across the different functions of the organization. Futurists are able to understand, acquire and implement the technologies required to do this accurately and efficiently. They are prepared to advise C-level executives on where to go next.
Throughout all this change, the ultimate goal remains the same, though it is achieved using different means. The information collected across the organization via digital technologies will build a powerful base for understanding customer behavior and expectations. With testing and successful implementation, the data will support the design of future campaigns and strategies to improve the overall customer experience, gain customer loyalty, improve brand reputation and, ultimately, secure the business’s profitability. The future is exciting for the bank marketer who is willing to take on the challenge of an expanded role.
Andrew Stevens is global banking specialist for Quadient, the award-winning leader in customer communications management software. With nearly two decades of experience at one of the world’s largest banks, Andrew covers all aspects of banking operations and technology with respect to customer communications management and customer experience. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org