June 30, 2015

Experience Matters

Chris Mellish is Partner at strategic consulting and ideas agency Black Book London and former CEO of Razorfish. He was among the speakers at the Figaro Digital Marketing Conference in London on 16 July 2015. He explains why technology shouldn’t distract marketers from a fundamental truth: the customer still comes first

Managing a brand in today’s digitally-enabled world is becoming increasingly complex. Consumer expectations continue to evolve at pace and entire industries are turned on their heads by new entrants.

These new entrants are frequently fuelled by the innovative use of technology to change how consumers engage with the brand and, in some cases, the shape of the product itself. Often it’s new thinking about how consumers get to the point of purchase and how the relationship with a brand is extended after purchase that drives the greatest disruption. Plenty of well-known examples highlight this trend.

At the same time, advertising models are being disrupted as new digital channels and platforms launch on what seems like a daily basis. This, in turn, drives the established players to change ad formats and algorithms, providing a greater number of increasingly sophisticated options for marketers.

Finally, the constraints on online trading are being broken down. Entrepreneurs with technology backgrounds are ironing out these barriers one by one, often in cost-effective ways that call the notion (and associated cost) of ‘enterprise solutions’ into question.

In short, every component of the way brands have traditionally gone to market over the past 10 years is evolving at speed. No business model remains safe, no matter how big or small, how established or how untouchable they may seem.

If you’re a marketer and still reading, it’s likely I’ve not made your day, given the complexity of the world I’ve described and the multitude of threats to your business.

But the answer isn’t as complicated as it might appear. For Black Book London, the secret sauce to transforming your business in this new digital age is, in reality, an old trick: a simple focus on customer experience and satisfaction. There’s no doubt that the digital world in which we operate has made this more complicated to unpick and tricky to plan for. But it’s also opened opportunities that enable us to tackle old problems in new and innovative ways; there are many reasons to be optimistic.

We’ve worked hard to find ways of understanding the experience that a consumer has with your brand and what the influencing factors are. What is it they are trying to achieve? What they are thinking and what are they feeling?

Once you can understand this, then you can start to ask yourself some fundamental questions.

• How have my customer’s expectations changed throughout their journey with me?

• What might surprise and delight them in today’s world?

• How can we, as a brand, make their lives easier?

• Where do we lack focus and where do we currently apply too much effort?

The answers to these questions will lead you to identify opportunities to excel and help you understand how to prioritise your efforts. It’s not simple, but a focus on customer experience will take you a long way to succeeding in today’s digitally enabled world.