Thursday, August 20th, 2015 | 6 min read
You’ve heard this before: Your brand is the sum of customers’ complete experiences with you across all touch points.
Your brand isn’t your company. It isn’t your marketing message. It isn’t even your product. It is an experience – a holistic experience a customer has with your product, your content, and your employees. It is the reason to choose you over your competitor.
Relationship capital is arguably the most important goal any business has. After all, there is no such thing as a self-made man. We all depend on others in our success. Businesses depend on partners, investors, vendors, and employees. But the most important relationship a business has is with its customers.
Oh, that “relationship” used to be easy. Several key channels (print, TV, radio, phone), one-way broadcasting, millions of impressions as a goal. Things didn’t change much over decades.
Then the digital revolution came and, with it, brought new channels and new challenges. Web and email started to take over. And just when we thought we got those mastered, the pace of change became unsustainable.
Dozens of social channels, as well as the rise of the citizen journalist, brought blogging, newsjacking, podcasting, and social posting. With those, the need developed for listening, real-time engagement, managing digital crises, and more. The pace at which social network features, rules, and capabilities change is staggering. The number of niche tools supporting various functions of creation, publishing, distribution, management, and reporting grew to hundreds.
For those businesses that recognized the seismic shift in the marketplace, managing consumer experiences through the rise of the social tsunami became not only a challenge, but a priority. But as they started to implement strategies, solutions, and tools across the organization, one critical gap became widely apparent. No matter how much you try to serve your customers, if the organization is internally siloed in mentality, processes, and technology, no amount of delight will ever deliver a truly holistic experience that your customer deserves.
Sales funnels don’t exist anymore. We now have a sales zig-zag. Every day, our customers are consuming information from many devices through more than 50 channels, and engaging with you through thousands of touch points. They are educated, globally connected, and impatient, and have a high BS radar. They expect that you are listening – on every channel – and demand a real-time response. They trust their friends over advertisements and brand messages. They buy brands they have relationships with.
Successful business isn’t about impressions any more. It is about building relationship capital through smart experience management. And the only way to achieve that is for all parts of the organization to work together, to become a connected company!
What is desperately needed is a set of critical capabilities that would work across a lot of channels, to be implemented across a variety of teams, a number of product lines, in every market. What is needed is a complete solution for your digital needs that’s designed to work in tandem with your existing infrastructure.
What’s needed is an integrated business nerve center.
But the reality is a bit grim. A 2014 study by Signal states that organizational and technological integration is a key problem for businesses. While respondents recognize a range of benefits to a fully integrated marketing stack, around half of respondents said their marketing data and technology are either managed separately (10 percent), or that only some tools are integrated (41 percent). Just 4 percent reported having a completely integrated stack.
While 53 percent prioritize developing a single view of each customer (a high priority for marketers around the world, according to MarketingCharts), they’re faced with technological challenges such as multiple/duplicate records (41 percent), too many systems/difficulty keeping track of where data is housed (38 percent), and siloed data (37 percent). As a result, 59 percent of respondents felt that it was a priority to have a single system to deliver customer experiences across all potential digital channels.
Consumers experience our brand through different life moments and in a variety of places: at the store, on our website, through social conversations. This is a remarkable opportunity for brands to connect. Most important, an opportunity to track, manage, and align these moments to drive brand love, advocacy, and loyalty.
Bringing the voice of your customer into the right business context, at the right time, is the first step in that transformation. To do that, organizations need to build an integrated business nerve center that sits at the core of the enterprise and connects all of the people, processes, and systems within it. This is the only way we will enable innovative, positive social interactions that build long-lasting relationships with people who matter.
About The Author: Ekaterina Walter is a business and marketing innovator, international speaker, author of The Wall Street Journal bestseller Think Like Zuck: The Five Business Secrets of Facebook’s Improbably Brilliant CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and co-author of The Power of Visual Storytelling: How to Use Visuals, Videos, and Social Media to Market Your Brand.
This article was originally published on Entrepreneur.com on November 14th, 2014.