“We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” –Albert Einstein
Too much of how we handle marketing and customer experience (CX) is based on the same level of thinking from when we first started. As a result, experiences are stagnating.
That was the main takeaway of a keynote address by Forrester’s global CIO practice leader, Matt Guarini, Wednesday afternoon at Adobe Symposium in New York City. Guarini showed a slide with the apps from three different airlines, pointing out there was “no differentiation whatsoever.”
He also pointed to a Forrester study comparing B2B websites. The majority are good, Guarini said, but few are excellent. He referred to this as “digital sameness,” which he said is driven by a lack of creativity and differentiation.
While companies are investing a lot of money into CX and related technology, “good” experiences won’t give them the most bang for their buck.
“The problem is we are all solving the same problems,” Guarini said. “We are all using the same people and the same partners.” Even the tech providers now offer a lot of the same functionality, he said, adding, “people go with what is psychologically comforting to them. These are the challenges.”
According to Guarini, the industry needs a technology-driven approach to innovation. “Technology-driven innovation is an advanced discipline of rapid technology experimentation to unleash disruptive change,” he told the audience of 400 marketing and CX professionals.
Tech-driven innovation keeps the customer at the center of everything, he said. Companies need to use technology to experiment, and in order for that to be possible, they must bring technology and customers together. More collaboration between CIOs and CMOs is the only way to reimagine the customer experience of the future, he said.
Guarini cited three must-haves for technology innovation: Companies need a flexible core, emerging technology, and new ways of working. Culture and talent, Guarini added, are really important to success, as well.
“Companies that have great customer experience also think about employee experience,” Guarini said. They also perform better, he said?
A Look At Differentiators
Later in the day, Diana Lee Caplinger, chief administrative officer, consumer technology, at SunTrust Bank, said her organization is keen on investing in technology to see how it can do things differently. “We’re pulling together a cloud and design-thinking approach,” she told the audience. “We are finding ways to use technology to enhance the human touch and also melding experiences online and in banks.”
SunTrust’s Accelerator Studio is helping it better understand consumers, Caplinger said. The studio is essentially a team of researchers within the organization that figures out the right approach to engaging with different segments of clients. Financial literacy is different from client to client, she said, and SunTrust is focused on finding ways to help people reduce financial stress. Key to doing so is understanding the client journey.
John Martin, managing director of digital media at NASCAR, also took to the stage, where he spoke about how the sports brand is talking to and engaging with consumers. It all boils down to three goals, he said: sell tickets, experience NASCAR through digital media (tune into a broadcast), or deliver value for sponsors.
According to Martin, sports is going through quite a disruption in venues and even in terms of other ways that consumers can tune in to watch a match. In venues, consumers are looking for “selfie” opportunities. “Today when you go to a venue, you want to be entertained,” he said. “Whatever is happening on the track is secondary.” Martin also spoke to OTT media as a major disruptor—one that NASCAR is following very closely.
In addition, Martin said NASCAR sees itself “as a service division to the people selling tickets at the stadium.” From there it needs to figure out next steps to engage. “If a person at the track just bought a ticket, when do I reach out to them again? Should we connect via phone call? Text? What’s the right medium?” he said. “We’re using predictive modeling to try and figure that out.”
The end result? More fluid experiences, Martin said. NASCAR is always looking for the different use cases and how it can predict what customers needs are based on data.
Alex Ngo, global head of digital marketing at BNY Mellon, said he is bullish on artificial intelligence, machine learning, and blockchain, with each one serving very different use cases. But before diving into the new, shiny technology, he advised leaders to first work on getting the full functionality of the technology that they already have in place.
“Do you know how much money you are leaving on the table by not knowing what you already have on hand?” he asked the audience.
Next up was Scott McAllister, SVP of digital and customer experience transformation officer at Comcast. He spoke about the company’s agile marketing approach and how it is helping improve CX.
“We are constantly testing and learning,” he said. “We are doing 30 to 50 tests at any given time, and we’ve learned a lot.”
Some of those learnings: Small fonts make people wary of you. Also, some regions prefer prescriptive messaging, while others are more receptive to a softer, almost educational tone.
Comcast is currently experimenting with natural language processing from its voice-enabled cable television remotes, with the hope of one day allowing people to have two-way dialogue with the reps.
“Many times you don’t know [how people will engage] until you put something in the world,” he said. “You aren’t always going to find massive wins. But it’s the small incremental wins that are important.”