This last year was a big year. We brought on new customers, new employees, new product expertise, and hosted new events around the globe. So whats next?
Our Lithium Network Conference (known as LiNC) is renowned in the industry for its focus on our customers and networking with the "best in CX". This event brought hundreds of customers across the globe together for knowledge sharing, networking, training, awards, certifications, and most of all, to share their journey in the world of digital customer experience.
I am delighted to announce that we will build on that foundation further in 2018, by hosting the first global ‘Lithium CX Live’ in Austin, Texas, on October 3rd & 4th, 2018.
Lithium CX Live will be a product and customer experience focused event.
When you arrive in ATX, you'll
Hear Lithium’s vision for the future of service, customer care and digital marketing,
Learn our product roadmap for the next generation of digital customer experience,
Experience upcoming product demos, hands-on best practice labs and in-depth training,
Meet and network with experts and peers that will help you get more out of your digital and social strategy,
And of course, attend the annual Lithy Customer Awards Ball.
Registration will open soon, but in the meantime, mark your calendars for October. And I’ll see you at CX Live in Austin!
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The world of social has changed dramatically over the past few years. What started as a simple means for brands to communicate in a one-way, “broadcast” fashion to consumers has evolved into a multidimensional web of platforms and immersive media channels that make it easier than ever to engage with consumers in almost every way imaginable.
One part of this new social media dynamic is customer service. Initially, brands were a bit reluctant to shift customer-care efforts from traditional to digital. This mentality made sense for a while because the benefits of making this shift hadn’t really been pressure-tested to the full extent yet, not to mention, customer service had traditionally been entrenched in call-center operations.
But, guess what? The customer changed that entire dynamic for us. They decided where they wanted to be served by brands and required marketing and customer-care teams to follow suit, quickly.
The brands that decided to dive head-first into the world of social customer care were true pioneers. They set the stage for what has now become a rather commonplace practice today. And this is truly a great thing because it’s pushed the boundaries of what social media is, as well as what it can become in both the near- and long-term.
As we look toward the future, though, there’s one major problem with this scenario (and it’s a serious thorn in my side): Social media marketing still seems far too disconnected from social customer service. Even though we know just how important it is for these stakeholders to be aligned, industry analysts have reluctantly admitted that bringing these two together is just too complicated for most organizations.
For those that are able to accomplish this feat, however, the end result can be game-changing. Unfortunately, there are a few common roadblocks that all too often stand in the way of allowing this alignment to happen.
Three ways to overcome the social marketing vs. social service divide
First—and this is truly the biggest offender—marketing and care teams simply aren’t talking to each other. This still baffles me, even though I fully understand why it happens: It’s a matter of different teams with different goals. They simply don’t see eye-to-eye.
Unfortunately, this is extremely inefficient, especially knowing that both teams are at the center of the customer experience. Creating a great digital customer experience is not just about marketing or just about customer service—it’s dependent on both and a lot more. Why not work hand-in-hand to plan and execute customer-facing campaigns? (This really isn’t a question. You should do this.)
Second, how brands manage customer relationships needs to be re-examined. If you’re using your customer-relationship-management system—and thinking that it’s the end-all, be-all of your customer-centric marketing and service strategy—it’s about time you gave this a second thought.
Don’t get me wrong: CRM systems are crucial. They play an important part in the customer lifecycle. But you’ve got to remember that a CRM program is basically just a customer database. This sits at the edge of a customer-centric model and is truly far too tactical in nature to meet the heightened expectations of today’s ever so demanding customers.
You’ve got to do a lot more than simply communicate regularly to your database to maintain positive customer relationships. This is a perfect example of marketing operating in its own silo. CRM can’t provide a great digital customer experience on its own. The minute a customer clicks through to a landing page is when the magic really happens. (Here’s a hint: Customer care plays a big part in this, too.)
Third—and perhaps a byproduct of the above more than anything else—the way in which brands implement technologies and platforms to create a more streamlined, efficient and effective digital customer experience is also incredibly siloed, as well.
At Lithium Technologies, brands would initially reach out to us to learn more about either our Social Media Marketing or Social Customer Service products.
But lately, those conversations have changed. They no longer ask about one or the other—they now want to know more about how to effectively manage the end-to-end digital customer experience via streamlined technologies and platforms.
We know that this is the true catalyst for efficiency and overall effectiveness (https://www.lithium.com/pages/social-media-has-grown-up) as brands seek to evolve and mature their social media efforts. Even so, it’s become our role to constantly change the conversation, reminding brands that “social,” as a whole, needs to be approached, implemented and executed as a single, unified program.
So, where does this leave us today, especially as many of us have already started to think about the year ahead? If the point hasn’t come across crystal-clear, let me reiterate: Make 2018 the year in which you create a stronger connection between marketing customer service.
We need to get out of the “one or the other” mindset. Creating memorable digital customer experiences doesn’t happen when teams and organizations operate independently.
Remember, your customers don’t know who they’re talking to when they reach out to ask questions, get more information or voice concerns. They just want to have a positive experience with your brand (consistently) and get whatever information they need, quickly.
Breaking down those silos will not only make you more efficient—which is always a good thing—and help you immediately achieve measurable results, but it will most certainly get you closer to your customers. And that, my friends, is what drives business value.
This article was originally featured in AdWeek on January 30th.
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Investing in the right technology – to meet customer demands and deliver the best digital customer experiences – is the priority facing all CMOs today. -Dayle Hall ( @DayleH)
I’ve said this one thousand times during customer and prospect meetings: every single person within a business is responsible for delivering a consistent and cohesive customer experience across all touch points. Digital is where brands have the biggest opportunity today to create something unique.
In fact, brands and marketers have started to turn a keen eye towards marketing technology. Why? Because the digital customer experience is much bigger than marketing or technology alone. Delivering a brilliant digital customer experience requires both marketing and technology working together seamlessly.
I’ve been hearing for years that marketers would soon become the biggest spenders on technology. My initial reaction to that had always been, “yeah, right.” However, have we now reached the tipping point? Perhaps. Back in 2012, Gartner predicted that CMOs would outspend their CIO counterparts on technology by 2017. Fast-forward to the present day: Gartner’s latest CMO spend survey is quickly proving this prediction is coming into fruition.
So, why have CMOs become the newfound stewards of technology in so many companies today? First, more often than not, the marketing organisation is tapped to lead, fund, and execute on digital customer experience initiatives. As we all know, the way to do that these days is through digital; and to do digital, you need technology. So, it’s no surprise that nearly 90 percent of companies have said they plan to compete primarily on the basis of digital customer experience alone – at a time when over half of consumers place more value on a positive brand experience than on the product or service purchased! I wouldn’t be surprised if that number rises closer to 100 percent in the next year. After all, digital customer experience is a marketer’s playing field and, as such, marketers have no choice but to harness the power of technology to win both the attention and, more importantly, the loyalty of today’s digital-first consumers.
We also need to keep in mind that marketing has fundamentally changed since Gartner first published its spend prediction in 2012. The debate between traditional vs. digital marketing is over. The outcome of that debate was an embrace of multi-channel marketing, even if there was an initial reluctance to it. In spite of digital’s rapid ascent to dominate advertising budgets, non-digital marketing tactics still played an important part in creating a cohesive brand story and experience – and, therefore, still provided tremendous value to marketers in driving the end-to-end customer experience.
The difference today is that we must look at marketing through the lens of digital. Simply stated, digital media is the de facto canvas for marketing today; how that canvas can be molded to create unique digital customer experiences is both an opportunity and a challenge for brands. This is further compounded by the fact that we know customers spend a lot of time transacting in various ways on digital media. Based on recent Lithium research, about one-third of consumers will visit a brand’s website, blog, or social channels first to engage with the brand, ask questions, learn more, or research specific products and services. This basically means that a brand’s digital presence is a lot more important now than ever before – and it goes way beyond your own .com site. The initial experience consumers have with that digital presence can be a “make or break” moment.
Consumers are somewhat impatient (perhaps an understatement?) – even more so when transacting via their mobile devices. They want answers, and they want them, fast. Think of it like this: your digital channels have to do the heavy lifting for you. If they don’t address what a consumer is looking for – or, at the very least, give them a direct way to contact you to get more information – you might as well just hold their hand all the way to your nearest competitor. But it goes beyond that. Consumers also want the option to engage with brands directly and on the channel of their preference. This is an example of approaching marketing through the lens of digital. You have to put yourself in a consumer’s shoes. What do they want from you? What will likely be their most frequently asked questions? What unique value does your brand offer to them? The list goes on. Think about what they want, need, and expect from you and then deliver an outstanding experience that delivers on those expectations.
Since we all are now thinking in a digital-first mode, technology becomes almost by default the heart of marketing. The primary goal of marketing technology is to automate (to a certain extent) and streamline the go-to-market process. From media buying to publishing to audience analytics, the wide array of technologies within the marketing ecosystem exist to help brands get closer to consumers, create and publish relevant content effortlessly, measure performance in real-time, and drive internal efficiency at every step along the online and offline consumer journey. Technology is, therefore, a big part of running a well-oiled marketing machines. CMOs know that implementing these technologies in their organizations makes their their teams smarter, savvier, and stronger. For them, driving marketing efficiency is just as important as creating stellar digital customer experiences. (Hint: you can’t drive a great experience without being buttoned up internally!)
The truth is, anything less than stellar is subpar. The numbers speak for themselves. About 41 percent of consumers say they would buy what they consider to be an inferior product from a brand they love (instead of a better product from a brand with which they’ve potentially had a bad experience). Not to mention, people who’ve had a positive experience with a brand tend to spend 140 percent more on products and services whereas 83 percent would stop using a brand after having only one negative experience. The key takeaway: if you thought digital customer experiences didn’t have a significant impact on your business’s bottom line, think again.
So, coming full circle, are we really surprised that CMOs are almost outpacing CIOs in their technology investment? No, we shouldn’t be. As consumers embody more digital-first tendencies, as marketers it’s our responsibility to put our customers at the center of every business decision we make. Doing so means we need to start embracing those digital-first tendencies, too – which, of course, requires technology. Fortunately, the benefits far outweigh any learning curves you might face along the way. Not only does marketing technology make our teams more efficient and effective, but it also helps close the gap between brands and consumers. CMOs understand that investing in the right digital technologies now will help ensure that every interaction consumers have with your brand on digital in the future is a good one. Not only do consumers expect it, but it’s always the only way to differentiate your brand in a big way in the future.
This article was originally featured in Engage CX Marketing.
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How the financial services industry can compete in an increasingly digital-first age
If you had asked me 10 – even five – years ago if I could imagine the day would come when I could quite easily open up a bank account online, I probably would have just laughed it off. After all, the experience of walking into a branch to meet with an account representative who would have me complete and sign endless amounts of paperwork to make me an official banking customer seemed par for the course – and never changing anytime soon. Not to mention, all of the privacy concerns, security restrictions, and other regulatory red-tape that would make online financial transactions seemingly impossible.
To be honest, I couldn’t tell you the last time I visited an actual bank branch. I do most of my banking online these days. So, if there’s one thing we’ve all learned in the last few years, it’s that technology has a very real power to transform and shape culture, business, and behavior. It is now practically a part of every interaction that takes place in our daily lives. To think that the banking and financial services industries would forever be immune to technology’s widening grip may have just been denial, in hopes that the predominantly analog status quo of the industry would prevail. Although regulatory and legal requirements haven’t changed – if anything, they are now stricter than ever before – we’re quickly seeing technology become a catalyst for change, helping to liberate an industry so encumbered by those constraints. Technology is, therefore, helping the financial services industry take its first steps into what will likely be a digital-first future.
The fact of the matter is that financial technology (aka, “fin-tech”) is here to move the industry forward, not give it reason to panic. Traditional financial services businesses need to get out of the all-too-common old way of doing things, if they even want to have a glimmer of hope of competing with the new digital-first entrants into the space.
While most brands have started to dip their toe into the “digital pool,” this rapid evolution into a more digital-first mindset goes well beyond day-to-day banking, with players like Monzo and Tesco Bank already disrupting the industry in a big way. Technology has impacted – and you could even say, simplified or made more accessible – the way people invest (Moneybox), manage their entire financial portfolio (Nutmeg) and even file and pay for taxes (TurboTax).
Simple tasks that once required the intervention of a seasoned professional are increasingly being automated through smart and convenient technology. This isn’t to suggest that technology has completely taken over. There are still moments when human interaction is necessary to complete a task. The benefit of all this technology, however, is that it helps identify the exact moment when humans need to take over, helping to improve the overall efficiency and effectiveness of customer support teams. Not to mention, it helps build confidence and trust (more on that in a moment).
So, while there are seasoned professionals somewhere in the background being support in a big way by all this technology, you could easily say that the relationship customers have today with the entire financial services industry has been fundamentally flipped on its head – all thanks to technology. No question about it, fin-tech is thriving. Do you want to be left behind?
Now, before any of us get carried away, it’s important to keep in mind that, in a recent survey commissioned by Lithium, only 23 percent of adults in the UK said that they trust digital more than other forms of banking even though 59 percent said they would prefer to bank through digital channels if the trust element were there. Conversely, 58 percent found in-person banking to be the most trustworthy. This reveals that consumers today are facing a dilemma between convenience and trust as technology becomes more a part of the financial services industry.
Here lies an opportunity. When consumers are faced with complex banking issues, 60 percent of adults in the UK said that would have to sort it out in-person while a meager 15 percent would look to digital first to get the answers they need. Although this may be the case now, it’s highly likely that the balance could soon tip in the opposite direction. New entrants into the financial services industry are getting a lot savvier about how they leverage and amplify their digital presence – dotcom, online community, social channels and in-app – which all comes down to building a better overall digital customer experience. Doing so builds trust. Trust builds loyalty. The only difference today is that technology is quickly becoming a driver of trust.
This trend is already well underway. The simple fact that fin-tech brands are already gaining so much attention and traction with consumers, especially among digital-first millennials, is a sign that high-street banks and other more traditional financial services providers are the most at risk to lose business to these new, more agile entrants into the market.
Fortunately, there is still time to get on board with digital. Keep in mind, though, it’s about more than simply making an investment in it; it’s about making a conscious decision to redefine the end-to-end customer experience, wherein digital sits at the heart of it all. Doing this will not only continue to build on the trust that consumers have with your brand, but also help them see you in a new light – one where speed, efficiency and convenience around addressing their needs and resolving their issues is consistently your top priority.
Although there is no one-size-fits-all recipe for success, there are a few things you can do proactively to implement a winning digital strategy:
Embrace Technology: You need the right systems, processes and platforms in place to automate, streamline and unify the customer experience across all digital channels.
Know Your Customers: The more you know about your customers’ needs, the better and more personalised service you can provide them. Data can help you develop actionable customer insights that make it easier to meet and exceed customer expectations.
Empower Agents: Agents must have a comprehensive view of the customer to address their needs efficiently. Creating holistic customer profiles using your customer data will equip agents with information to help them be more effective with every interaction.
Share Information: The digital customer experience is everyone’s responsibility, not just the marketing or customer support team’s. Create as much transparency as possible around your digital efforts to ensure the entire organisation knows what’s happening.
Streamline Content Delivery: Coupling customer data with automated content publishing and recommendation tools takes the guesswork out of identifying what kinds of content your customers want and expect from your brand.
Build Community: An online community allows your customers to interact and collaborate with each other as well as ask questions and get answers, which can alleviate the costs and pressures placed on customer care teams.
Measure Performance: From social media analytics to marketing campaign metrics to customer data, you must measure every customer interaction across every digital channel to ensure you deliver a premium digital customer experience at all times.
The emergence of fin-tech is a good thing – and, truthfully, shouldn’t be seen as a threat to your business. That is, only if you use it to your advantage. Fin-tech is pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in the financial services industry and, if you heed its call, it can help you build a solid business case for launching your brand into the digital age or expanding your current digital presence, making way for a better and more cohesive digital customer experience. The number of digitally-minded consumers is growing every day. They value convenience, speed and efficiency. By embracing fin-tech, and deploying it with your customers’ wants, needs, and expectations squarely in mind, you can give your already-loyal customers a reason to stay loyal despite growing competition.
This article was originally posted on International Banker.
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