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Many of us reach for sporting metaphors to assist with the communication of business challenges. Once they don’t distract from the core discussion and provided they help illuminate the debate, I don’t see any harm in utilising them as an aid (apologies to non-sports fans!). There are some that immediately come to mind – ‘you are stuck in the blocks’, ‘hit them where it hurts’, ‘taking one for the team’, etc.

As someone who played soccer for many years and as a father who has fulfilled a supporting role on a sideline of a Sunday morning, the one line that you don't want to be accused of or worst still hear mentioned about your own child:

"you missed an open goal"

Other expressions don’t come close to conveying failure and missed opportunity in a way that those 5 words do. It carries a strong sense that something was firmly within your grasp and well within your ability to achieve, yet you didn't get the job done.

The Questions Posed

Having spent some time recently reviewing the latest version of the Customer Experience report from the Economist Intelligence Unit (i.e. The value of experience: How the C-suite values customer experience in the digital age), I cannot but conclude that many European organisations are missing a very big open goal when it comes to Customer Experience (CX). The research focused on four key questions:

What importance is attached to CX within companies?

Who leads CX initiatives?

How is the success of CX measured?

Which CX channels are most favoured?

They are a good set of straightforward questions, with the intent of getting behind important areas of interest such as Executive Sponsorship, Return on Investment, etc. The findings from the research show some strong positives but they really highlight massive opportunities ahead for organisations that properly approach this domain of organisational transformation.

Encouraging Signs

On the positive side of the research, I was very encouraged to see that:
  • 66% of European companies say that customer experience has been a “very important” priority over the last three years.
  • Investment is continuing to increase and countries such as the UK are leading the way.
  • 40% say that the CEO leads Customer Experience initiatives within their organisation. Sweden lead the way on this leadership item, with CEO’s leading CX initiatives in exactly half of the companies.
If the CX trajectory is tracking upwards and this is a current snapshot on status, then we should be hopeful that we are starting to get the right level of attention around CX as something that can truly transform a business as opposed to something that just feels good to have in a mission statement.

The Dangers of Complacency

If there was any danger of us getting complacent on the progress made, the following 2 findings from the research provide a sobering reminder:
  • On a global level, the research indicates a level of confusion within companies about who is leading the customer experience drive. Although 72% of CEOs surveyed believe they own the CX initiative, only 27% of other executives believe the CEO leads it.
  • Within Europe 37% do not measure the success of customer experience transformation initiatives.
This is worrying for a number of reasons. CX has suffered a lot from the silo’d structure of traditional organisations and associated culture, which in turn impacts leadership clarity. There can be no confusion in terms of who leads these initiatives. In my personal opinion, it has to be top down and organisation wide.

Putting The Ball In The Back of the Goal

There is nothing new or ground breaking about the advice offered to drive the ball into the back of the goal! Its about being really clear on your CX purpose and getting the basics right:
  • Make CX a priority - Across the board, companies that prioritise future investment in CX believe they are reaping the benefits of better revenue growth and improved profitability.
  • Place the CEO in charge 
  • Find the evidence - More than a third of companies in Europe (37%) don’t measure the success of CX initiatives. This endangers the effectiveness of CX investment.

Companies who prioritise future investment in CX initiatives believe they are more profitable and have better revenue growth than their peers, according to the research. As a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP) who works with large corporations on their digital customer experience strategies I don’t just believe that is the case, I know it is!

  Graham Fagan is Head of Customer Experience and Multi-Channel at BT and is also a speaker on the IMI Diploma in Digital Business. He leads the development and go to market strategy for digital customer experience services at BT. He has worked in the ICT industry for 18 years and during that time he has held positions in business transformation, architecture, commercial marketing and digital strategy. [post_title] => Digital Customer Experience: An Open Goal? [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => digital-customer-experience-open-goal [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-11 20:42:22 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-11 20:42:22 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 9370 [post_author] => 7 [post_date] => 2015-03-20 15:41:52 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-03-20 15:41:52 [post_content] => Cathy Winston is a facilitator and consultant in Strategic Marketing. She has worked with blue chip companies worldwide, companies looking to scale and start-ups to identify growth strategies, with a strong track record of commercial achievement.  Cathy lectures on Innovation and Marketing and teaches on IMI’s Mini MBA [caption id="attachment_9373" align="alignnone" width="575"]© ©[/caption]  

Digital Marketing Communications….Spending more and more but have no idea if it’s working or not?

Chances are this statement is true for many companies, because they have failed to answer 3 key marketing questions before jumping right in.
  1. Who are your target customers?
  2. What message will be needed for you to engage them and convert them to your product or service?
  3. What media do they use to get information about or connect with, products like yours and where does digital fit within that?
  I see too many incidences of businesses using digital marketing as their only marketing process and their main communications process, primarily because everyone else is or they think they will lose out if they don’t or worse still it is a cheap way to market the business. But without clarity around the questions above, they are likely to lose out anyway, because they will not have relevant content for the relevant audience. Without taking the time to do your marketing strategy before your communications plan, it is highly unlikely you will have an effective digital plan. Marketing is about winning in your market space. This means providing products and services to your customers that are better and different than your competitors to make a profit. So while it may seem laborious, it is imperative that your business sets about identifying it’s key customers and understanding their needs. Next, make sure you are delighting them before shouting about it. Now, you can communicate to them. Only at that stage, decide if digital is part of their world when looking for your product. Marketing asks you to look at exploring value, creating value and then delivering value. It is this that grows your business. It is this that grows your margins and profits and it is this that allows you to charge premium prices. Yes, it does take time to get information about your customers and it takes time to think it through to your product or service, but that has to be better than just throwing money at SEO, PPC or e-marketing, hoping it will do the job for you. If that was the case, everyone would be just sitting back and counting the money.     [post_title] => Digital Marketing - A bottomless pit? [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => digital-marketing-communications-spending-idea-working [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-11 20:56:36 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-11 20:56:36 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 20341 [post_author] => 99 [post_date] => 2018-01-17 15:33:08 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-01-17 15:33:08 [post_content] => [post_title] => DIY your way to Digital Transformation [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => diy-way-digital-transformation [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-13 21:02:33 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-13 21:02:33 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) )
John Fahy

John Fahy

7th Apr 2017

John Fahy is an IMI associate on the Senior Executive Programme. 

Related Articles

Digital Customer Experience: An Open Goal?
Digital Marketing - A bottomless pit?
DIY your way to Digital Transformation

Calling Time on the Digital Advertising Party!

The past decade has seen a boom in digital advertising spend but could 2017 be the year when we finally see some sanity restored? With consumers spending more time researching products online and diverting their attention from traditional to social media, money has been pouring into digital advertising. The numbers are quite staggering. As a private company in 2011, Facebook generated just under $4bn in sales. Since going public its revenues have rocketed and last year it generated $10bn in income on sales of $28bn. Similarly in 2016, Google received $80bn in advertising revenues and it is by far the global leader in search advertising. It is estimated that this year, digital ad spend in the US will exceed TV ad spend for the first time. Think about it, all of the money going across all of the TV platforms in the US will be dwarfed by the money going, primarily, to the big two digital advertisers. It has been a great run but one that may just be ending.

Web analytics (Photo source)

Scarcely a quarter goes by now without some bad news story for the digital advertisers. Google have been making headlines this month when it was revealed that paid ads were appearing alongside extremist and unsavoury content particularly on YouTube. Up to 250 advertisers, including the likes of L’Oreal, McDonald’s, Walmart and GM suspended advertising on YouTube and in some cases on its entire display network until the problem was rectified. Similarly late last year, Facebook was in the news when it admitted that it had overstated how long users watch videos on its site by up to 80 percent. This was a result of how it calculated its ‘average duration of video viewed’ number which was the total number of minutes a video was watched divided by the total number of views. However, Facebook only counts a view as someone watching a video for at least three seconds which had the effect of understating the denominator and making the duration of video views look attractive.

Each emerging controversy reflects a growing disenchantment with digital advertising. As it grew, digital promised a shiny age of measurement and transparency where advertisers could target precisely the customers that they wanted to and measure the effectiveness of their ad spend to the cent. But instead, advertisers have encountered business models that are opaque at best and a dizzying fog of metrics to get their heads around. A particular case in point is display advertising – that is banner ads and pop-ups that appear on webpages many of which are now served up in real-time and the type that has been at the centre of Google’s problems this month. The structure through which an advert by say Coca-Cola appears on say TV3’s home page is potentially a complex one involving ad exchanges and demand-side and supply-side platforms. For each euro spent on this kind of advertising, some estimates put the amount actually reaching the publisher (in this case TV3) as being as low as 30 percent. The rest goes on intermediary commissions.

These types of issues are leading to more big brands to question their digital spending. Earlier this year Mark Pritchard, the chief brand officer at P&G, raised a number of concerns about digital advertising particularly the lack of external validation of the numbers being supplied by the digital duopoly of Facebook and Google. A study reported by Adweek last year noted that a third of brands had indicated that they were shifting more of their budgets away from digital and back to traditional media. It would appear that the era of easy money is coming to an end for the digital advertisers.

John Fahy is an IMI associate on the Senior Executive Programme. He is Professor of Marketing at the University of Limerick in Ireland and Adjunct Professor of Marketing at the University of Adelaide, Australia.