How to Give your Business the Agile Advantage

Disruption is the new norm. In business, your superpowers are not how big your business is or how long it’s been around. Your superpowers are your foresight, speed and agility.

As Charles Darwin said, “ It is not the most intellectual or strongest that survives; but the one that is able to adapt to and to adjust best to the changing environment in which it finds itself’.

But what does these mean and what type of transformation is needed for us to adapt and change?

The fundamental difference is to be obsessed with the customer experience rather than letting operational efficiency drive all your decisions. Technology as an enabler not the lead. The driver is how we create value for customers and stay responsive as well as relevant.

It’s ‘The age of experience’ – and it’s that experience which will make – or break your brand.

Businesses that survive will be those with a customer centric view driving the entire customer experience. End to end. Online and offline. Making Improvements in Customer Experience will see revenue growth through increased loyalty, according to Forrester.

We need to bring innovative marketing thinking to technological delivery. Technology is essential to provide insights and data into customers. But more critically how we use those insights to support the delivery of an amazing experience.

In today’s digital world the technology interface is often the first touch point a consumer has with your business. Marketers currently spend 33% of the marketing budget on technology according to Gartner’s recent CMO Spend Survey 2016.

Yet, talking to organizations too many of these technology decisions have efficiency as the first goal, rather than an agile customer experience.

The goal is to create deep, rich, and engaging experiences that anticipate and deliver what their customers need – even when they don’t know it themselves.

Firms need a vision for how their business can connect at a deep, human level.

Technology has the potential to help marketers deliver an extraordinary experience through;

– Managing relationships more intelligently and responsively

– Delivering a better, more personalized level of service

– Shifting how stories are told from passive to participatory and multidimensional

– Creating custom, real time, highly personalized communication

– Identifying new opportunities and providing fast access to the right data at the right time

– Developing innovative new products whose only limits are our own imaginations

– Improving customer service and support to delight and exceed expectations

But there are several problems;

– The way organizations are structured and specifically the relationship between Marketing & IT is a barrier to improving experience and being agile.

Siloed organizational structures slow us down. An Accenture study, shows that only one in 10 believes collaboration between CMOs and CIOs is currently at the right level.

– Lack of a joined-up view of the customer journey covering all touch points means delivery isn’t as responsive or adaptable as it needs to be.

– Decision making taking too long in organizations who lack a culture of trust and empowerment.

– Not having the depth of insights into your customer nor the structure in place to act on them.

– Marketers may have the right technological tools but many don’t know how to use them. Equally many in IT don’t have a good enough understanding about what customers really need.

We need to work together toward a common vision. A shared passion for making a positive difference to customers – and each other. We need to better understand the why, how and what we do impacts on the delivery of the best possible customer experience.

Marketing and IT are complementary not competitive. When they work together with a common purpose the results can be extraordinary.

It’s time to see each other as strategic partners to deliver a differentiated customer experience and innovations that engage the minds of customers.

Here are 9 things to consider in creating a more agile customer experience;

  1. Shared Vision. Create a shared Vison across the organization that everyone owns. It starts with your Why and is understood in the context of your customers. When people know the right things to do they can innovate and make decisions more easily
  2. Adopt a Mission Critical approach. Find the sweet spots. The things that have most strategic value and put your best people, regardless of function, together to work on delivering those.
  3. Build with Intent. Be intentional about building an Agile Organization. Marketers and IT working together to take things off auto pilot. Challenge the way we think to deliver a better experience and continually innovate with that goal in mind.
  4. Collaborative Team of Teams. Build a connected operating model which is lean & flat. It’s joined up thinking. Less about functional silos. At the core is a team of ‘best in class’ marketing & technology experts (and others) focused on customer experience and mission critical initiatives. It’s a collaborative approach that increases your organization’s agility.
  5. Human centric. It’s not about you! Centric means just that. The human is at the center and it’s as much about your staff as your customers. The two need to be aligned to deliver your Brand promise. Build a customer facing organization outside in and deliver your brand inside out.
  6. Make Marketing accountable for the Customer Experience. It’s their job to own it as well as reimagine the customer experience across the whole organization. Mapping out that journey identifying critical inter dependencies and working with others to identify opportunities for innovation
  7. People first Culture. Build a culture on shared values, mutual trust and empowerment. Your values drive your behaviours. When you have a foundation of trust and empower staff to do what’s right your levels of engagement soar. A happy engaged workforce means happy and loyal customers.
  8. Real time data driven strategic decisions based on creative & deep insights. The Data from tech automation helps find insights that can improve customer experience. But it needs to be a single view. We can use that data to create new forms of value for our customers
  9. Combine the science and the art. We need creative story tellers as much as we need data geeks. The latter will give us the data and insights to build human centric brands. But the creatives will connect emotionally through the stories they tell. Sometimes we can measure what matters but not all the time. There’s an intangibility to building Brands through exceptional experiences that shouldn’t be underestimated.

Last word to Jack Welch,

There are only two sources of competitive advantage: the ability to learn more about our customers faster than the competition and the ability to turn that learning into action faster than the competition.

P.S. If you want to learn how to build a more agile marketing led organization let’s have a conversation – human to human.

Sarah Denby -Jones is a Business Mentor & Strategic advisor for impact driven entrepreneurs. Guiding Scale Ups and the C-Suite on Marketing Leadership. She operates at the intersection of Strategy, Marketing & Organisational Design.

She’s also a Microsoft SMB Ambassador helping SMB’s understand how technology and marketing can work better together to deliver their brand promise.

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