martech stack

Is Your MarTech Stack Ruining Your Customer Relationships?

It might be time to ask yourself “Is my MarTech stack making things better for my customers, or worse?”

MarTech stacks can enhance customer experiences when strategically adopted, but a lack of focus and governance can lead to internal strife and customer churn. As the age of digital continues to accelerate at a breakneck speed, it’s time for organizations to step back and ask themselves a simple question: Is my MarTech stack making things better for my customers, or worse?

by Ken Seaton and Mike Sund

It’s easy to become enamored with new technology that promises 360-degree views of customers at all touchpoints. However, the reality is that achieving a holistic customer view is complex, multi-faceted, and difficult to execute successfully.

One of the key hurdles of adopting a 360-degree customer view may not be technology at all, but whether the organization is aligned on who owns the customer experience and corresponding MarTech stack. Often, different divisions use disparate systems and tools to achieve a variety of KPIs. That can lead to internal strife and confusion around who actually “owns” customer relationships.

Customer-centric approach and seamless CX

To avoid confusion and create the most seamless CX possible, decisions about customer ownership and a customer-centric approach must be decided and enforced with a top-down approach. Putting customers first and prioritizing their experience as a centralized focus across organizational divisions can help eliminate execution issues.

Marketers are also challenged by the never-ending need to drive KPIs—like ROI and attribution. It can become especially difficult to deliver elevated results when faced with roadblocks like organizational silos, data ownership and its governance, and the various methods of capturing and storing data. Other potential roadblocks include whether that data is centralized and normalized for ease of use and how data capture and storage are prioritized. Having a centralized, customer-centric goal can help to reign in various KPIs and tracking metrics—ultimately driving back to that core CX focus.

Customer lifetime value as a central goal

Although it may take some convincing to get all groups on the same page and realign investments, having a centralized goal that drives back to customer lifetime value ultimately drives the bottom line more than any other KPI. When you have an organization-wide dedication to the customer, the customer feels known and valued—leading them to reciprocate with referrals, continued use, and increased brand loyalty.

Points of integration can also significantly impact the overall customer experience and creation of that 360-degree view. Most companies have a plethora of systems, technologies, and tools focused primarily on specific jobs, including point-of-sale systems, billing, CRM, loyalty program databases, and customer care. But achieving a 360-degree customer view remains elusive for many brands as it requires each of these disparate systems to work harmoniously in real-time, necessitating numerous points of integration.

Each point of integration provides an opportunity for success—or customer friction. These points of customer friction are only amplified when organizations ask systems to do things they weren’t designed to do. Points of friction such as latency, incomplete profile data, poorly targeted communications, and clunky e-commerce or in-store interactions and transactions can erode customer trust, tarnish brand equity, and ultimately lead to customer churn. Ensuring a clear data hierarchy across the business will establish top priority data to be captured and serve as a guide to individual divisions or groups on pulling the most poignant information.

Key questions to assess your MarTech stack

How can you tell if your MarTech stack is ruining your customer relationships? Here are some key questions to help you determine where your organization stands:

  • Does your organization have clearly defined roles and corresponding governance specifically around customer experience and account ownership?
  • Are various divisions or groups focused on KPIs that conflict with broader customer experience goals and objectives?
  • Does your organization have a customer-centric data hierarchy that prioritizes significant data critical to driving key customer priorities?
  • Are your organization’s MarTech stack investments—including plans for future investments—focused on improving the customer experience? Or are they internally focused on department or division goals?
  • Is your customer-focused approach supported from the c-suite down?

Getting to the bottom of these questions can help define whether your MarTech stack is enhancing and enriching the experience your customers are having with your brand, or if it is creating unnecessary points of friction along their journey. These answers are critical to helping your organization define and design future strategies.

Leaning into partnerships to deliver on consistent CX

Leveraging the expertise of a strategic partner with the right talents, skills, and experience can help untangle this mess for marketers and technology users alike. A strong partner will have teams of seasoned data scientists, analytics experts, and strategic minds capable of driving meaningful business outcomes—simplifying and centralizing goals, helping prioritize data systems, and spotting issues before they arise.

The results generated through partnerships such as these are incredibly powerful. By leaning on your partner and their resources, you can reach the customer across every touchpoint—leading to a better and more consistent customer experience.

Ken Seaton is Partner, Sales & Capture at ICF Next and Mike Sund is Partner, Customer Loyalty at ICF Next.

This article originally appeared in ICF Next. Photo by Viktor Talashuk on Unsplash.

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