People at a dinner looking into a mirror. Organizations must look into the mirror and get their internal ship straight in order to deliver strong digital customer experiences.
Organizations must look into the mirror and get their internal ship straight in order to deliver strong digital customer experiences. PHOTO: Ivar Abrahamsen

BOSTON — Organizations striving to deliver exceptional digital customer experiences often forget to clean up their own house first.

In other words, you can’t be customer-centric if you’re not brand-centric. That means alignment across the entire organization, and not with just the customer experience team.

“The segment people forget about a lot is internal customers,” said David Izenson, marketing technology director for Atlanta-based Arke Systems, a digital customer experience service provider. “The internal customer owns employee contracts. And experiences you have with contractors is reflective on how your brand is perceived, even though the brand doesn’t have control of that.”

Cross-Organizational Alignment Key to CX

They should have control, though, said Izenson, who attended this week’s MarTech Conference at the Hynes Convention Center.

Izenson's take on customer experience represented one of the themes conference founder Scott Brinker touched on in his Tuesday keynote: Owning the entire brand experience and not just the point of the customer touchpoint.

Sometimes it's internal toolsets that lead to silos and shattered customer experience efforts.

Sometimes it's strategies that fail.

Outbound customer messages must be more consistent. The reason they're often not?

Headshot of David Izenson, who speaks about digital customer experience
David Izenson

Arke Systems’ Izenson said his team finds organizations struggle with strategies that “end up being in silos” and “don’t overlap.”

“Sometimes the customer group or customer engagement group isn’t as tightly aligned with marketing or the business units as they should be,” Izenson told CMSWire at MarTech. “And everybody’s voice needs to be heard. They all have different flavors of engagement when they touch the customer.”

Age of Organizational Disruption

If this is the age of digital disruption, it also needs to the age of organizational disruption, said Ed Breault, vice president of marketing and industry solutions for Chicago-based marketing operations technology provider Aprimo

He told CMSWire organizations have to “purposely disrupt.”

No matter what technology you have in place, he said, it’s not going to work if organizationally you’re not aligned.

Organizations remain challenged when they grow by acquisitions over time, lack proper integrations of business units and technology and fail to create a central governing body “in order to make decisions on how to operate,” Breault said.

headshot of Ed Breault, who speaks about digital customer experience
Ed Breault

“If they’re not aligned around the customer they’re never going to be able to deliver that touchpoint experience that is fantastic,” Breault said. “We’re seeing organizations purposely disrupt their operating models.”

He suggests going through a “sphere of influence” analysis. Determine who owns the customer experience through a scoring model and create the proper governing body.

Clarify roles and establish a “center of excellence.”

You’ll be able to expose who should not own the customer experience, he said.

“IT, for example, should not own the customer experience,” Breault said. “It really should be the customer experience team. IT has owned it, but the sphere has grown. The technology drove the experience but really it’s the experience that drives the technology.”

Capital One: CX Innovator

Headshot of Adrian Olvera, who speaks about digital customer experience
Adrian Olvera

Adrian Olvera, vice president of Austin, Texas-based digital agency Intelechy Group, referred to Capital One as a shining example of a company that has its internal processes in order and delivers strong customer experience.

“They’re not just a banking company but say they’re a technology company,” Olvera said. “They’ve embedded that into their organization. They’ve developed products in that group-effort kind of mentality and are embedding it into their culture. That’s a classic example right now.”

Olvera, like Breault of Aprimo, said companies need to transform internally through efforts like aligning marketing and sales, changing the technology stack cohesively and training people.

Early Stage for Marketers

It’s a journey that won’t be easy, according to Izenson. The vast majority of organizations, he said, even large enterprise organizations, are at an early stage of digital marketing and marketing maturity. 

“We come in, and they’ve got all these different siloed groups,” Izenson said. “IT does this, and marketing does that. Marketing runs off with a vendor and does its own thing in a silo. They’re trying to do too much too fast.”

MarTech Tool Selection

RMON Networks colleagues Erin Makarow (left) and Denise Howard, who spoke to CMSWire about digital marketing.
RMON Networks colleagues Erin Makarow (left) and Denise Howard, who spoke to CMSWire about digital marketing.PHOTO: Dom Nicastro

Izenson's right about some organizations still being in an "early stage." MarTech attendee Erin Makarow, a marketing coordinator for RMON Networks, surely is.

Fixing internal and external customer experiences may be the holy grail, but the reality is some marketing teams are in Step 1: selecting MarTech that helps manage leads.

Makarow told CMSWire her "small" marketing team is still in the marketing technology selection phase.

"We're looking for some type of management platform that can do more than one thing," Makarow said. "We're looking to generate leads and are looking at new marketing automation platforms at a price point affordable for a small business."