The expression to be “over one’s skis” has a mostly negative connotation describing someone as hasty or rash, ahead of where one needs to be. The expression omits certain nuances, however. When on the slopes, to be ahead of one’s skis also entails a certain fearlessness. To attempt steep terrain that may be beyond one’s ability requires confidence, ambition and a willingness to fail.
The analogy holds true for many marketers; supremely confident in their abilities, they’re not afraid to escape their comfort zone. Their aspirations make them willing to take on a certain amount of risk, even if the reality is that their ability and the technology on hand will not support what they’re trying to accomplish. They may accurately be described as being over their skis. Hasty, perhaps, but also with good intentions and not willing to be held back by organizational or architectural limitations.
A recent Harris Poll survey commissioned by Redpoint sheds light on the challenge for marketers intent on providing an omnichannel customer experience, yet faced with a complex technological landscape. In the survey of U.S. marketers, 67 percent said that technology has made it harder to effectively engage with customers, with 77 percent claiming that the number of customer engagement systems (an average of 20 deployed) make harder to provide a seamless customer experience (CX).
The ambition and drive to provide customers with superior, personalized experiences is there; it’s technology that acts as a restraint.
Stay the Course
Before exploring a solution to the problem, it’s worth understanding potential consequences when ambition outpaces the current state of maturity of a martech stack, or the marketing programs that an organization’s technology and strategy is able to deliver. If the objective is, say, cross-channel awareness with real-time decisioning so that a customer will always receive hyper-relevant content with a consistent brand voice, marketing should be cautious about overpromising and underdelivering. Otherwise, campaigns, strategies and even architectures may be implemented against a reality that doesn’t exist, resulting in inconsistencies, complexity and frustration. Think of a skier careening downhill, flailing in vain to regain control.
Marketers often take the plunge because they harbor a misguided notion that they’re behind their peers. They’re aware that customers increasingly demand personalized, omnichannel experiences, and they think every other company is regularly meeting this expectation.
The truth lies somewhere in the middle. Consider a recent S&P Global/451 Research report on the state of digital transformation, particularly with a focus on CX as a “catalyst” for many digital transformation projects. In an analysis of digital transformation growth, even with a significant rise in “digitally driven organizations” from 2016 to 2020 (from 29 percent to 54 percent), 47 percent of companies remain “digitally delayed” (down from 71 percent). Furthermore, a full 28 percent of organizations still either have no digital transformation strategy or are considering it but are without concrete plans.
Balance Goals with Readiness
Clearly, not everyone is where they need to be – or want to be. But a better strategy for providing customers with consistent, relevant omnichannel experiences without flailing about is to make an honest assessment of existing capabilities. A true accounting of maturity levels will help close the gaps between capabilities and outcomes by forcing marketers to focus on attainable goals.
Develop a keen understanding of the technology at hand and its contributions to customer engagement. Understand how systems work together. Test and learn. Don’t try to ski the whole mountain when you can you start with a small audience, perfect personalization for one campaign or one channel and move on from there. Focus on the data quality or shortening the gap between insight and orchestration to lay the foundation for the growth you aspire to.
Smart marketers may sometimes go over their skis, but they also knew when to pull back and how to regain control by being honest about their capabilities. Doing so, they enjoy continual – if incremental – improvements that better prepare them for the next challenge ahead.
Every company that has a brand-customer dynamic is interested in making CX gains. While it’s encouraging that there’s growing recognition of the importance of a personalized, omnichannel CX, objectives must be tethered to reality. If the goal is to employ data-driven insights to create meaningful, personalized experiences for customers, it’s okay to acknowledge that you’re not quite there.
For many Redpoint prospects, conversations about how to kick off an omnichannel CX strategy begin with Redpoint’s open garden architecture as a starting point, as it enables organizations to begin thinking differently about how to drive CX improvements using their existing architecture without an expensive rip and replace.
Arriving at a seamless, omnichannel CX with a consistent brand voice irrespective of channel does not happen overnight. Going from a “digitally delayed” to a “digitally driven” organization may take many months. Successful companies do a pretty good job of recognizing exactly where they’re at, and they take the time to formulate a plan for how to get there. In skiing, it’s called choosing your line. It rewards confidence, without the recklessness. And when accolades roll in for doing it right, with proof in the form of customers delighted by a consistently personalized CX, smart marketers will know that the glory was earned.