Technology Changes Everything
Busy attending to their craft and practice, marketers may not have noticed that marketing - as it has been traditionally practiced, is dead. (Marketers may prefer to say it is in the declining phase of its life cycle!) Traditional marketing has been killed by technology that has provided the enterprise with entirely new strategic capabilities. In a former era, business-to-business (B2B) marketers learned much from consumer packaged goods firms. Today, the reverse is true. Now both consumer marketers and B2B companies can use technology to further lever their marketing initiatives by, for example:
- Understanding who and where the best and worst customers are;
- Interacting with customers in real-time, helping them to assume more responsibility for their satisfaction;
- Broadening the range of products or services available to the customer, perhaps by cross-selling or distributing the products and services of others;
- Using technology to make it easier for the person interacting with customers to be more informed about the customer and alternative solutions to the issues they face;
- Timing communications and promotional offers when customers are most likely to buy. Predictive data modeling provides the capability to do this;
- Tailoring all aspects of communications to the information needs and media preferences of customers, using mass customized communication and media selection;
- Having customers initiate communications and using their own communications to trigger automated responses that reflect what the customer wants, needs or means, giving the appearance of a personal touch even when there is none.
The strategic implications of this are profound:
- Companies no longer should be thinking exclusively about selling what they make, but rather about providing customers with the products, services and solutions the customer expects from a supplier such as them. Technology has made this more feasible;
- There is a potential for technology to be seen as defocusing the company. Companies need to redefine what focus means, or they will never tolerate assuming responsibility for the total customer experience. Focus, in relationship marketing, means customer focus, NOT product or service focus;
- This, in turn, means that companies must know who their best customers are and have a plan to develop new and mutual value with these customers;
- More than this, companies need to have technology for real-time customer satisfaction. This means when the customer interacts with the company through a call centre or on the Internet, for example, they must be recognized for who they are and their prior contact and purchase experience with the company. Technology can provide an automated capability to provide customized and personalized context, to satisfy customers in real-time.
- Technology needs to be deployed in the service of the customer throughout the company's value-chain, which is especially needed for mass-customization of products and services;
- There are many ways in which technology can be put to use in the service of the individual customer and most companies are pursuing technology on so many fronts that that strategic thrust is often lost. CRM can be the umbrella under which technology initiatives fall and can aid internal communication:
- The four main areas for technology planning in the context of the individual customer are:
- external to the company,
- computing, and
External technologies are for customer and supplier interaction. Internal technologies communicate within the company to tie together diverse communications systems, call centers, communications channels and databases. Computing provides organizational memory and learning for customer interactions. Content comprises information on the customer, their context, behaviours, preferences and value to the company.