By: Richard Kirk, Senior Solutions Consultant

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A few weeks ago, Advertising Age published an article on how marketing professionals – particularly CMOs – are the new technology decision-makers. The numbers are compelling: according to research firm Gartner, marketers will spend more on technology than IT will by 2017. And the primary driver of this change is the new role of the CMO as the “guardian of the customer experience.”

CMOs are discovering that providing the best possible customer experience is made much easier if they adopt the right tools. However, many CMOs have little to no experience in evaluating or purchasing technology.  So, what do CMOs need to keep in mind when evaluating technology to improve the customer experience?

CRM is not enough. Traditional CRM tools are an important part of the CMOs toolbox because they are great at understanding who the customer is and what he or she has purchased in the past.  In fact, the market for customer-relationship management (CRM) tools alone reached over $20 billion in 2013, according to Gartner. The problem is that CRM tools do not know what customers like or don’t like, or how they feel about specific customer interactions. They can’t give you the whole picture.

The scope is wide but the segments are small.  Not only are number of touch points between companies and customers growing, but both customers and brands are also generating more and more content. Customers are constantly bombarded with communications from your brand. And conversely, brands are constantly bombarded with customer feedback.  To reach customers effectively, marketers must target their efforts selectively, with messaging based on geography, industry, and/or customer preferences. This usually means using multiple technologies together and a whole lot of creativity.

Emotions are critical evidence. For even smarter customer segmentation, companies should look at tools that can analyze information on customer preferences, emotion, and attitudes. This Voice of the Customer (VOC) information should be collected from sources ranging from customer surveys, emails, support calls and agent notes, web chat sessions, and more. Companies can use this data to produce more relevant customer communications.

Integration is key. CMOs need to look for solutions that allow them to combine traditional CRM capabilities and customer loyalty data with Voice of the Customer (VOC) data. Once they have a comprehensive view of their customers, they will be able to better segment and target their customers using the topics and subjects that actual customers value most.

What technology does your marketing department use? To learn more about how CMOs can benefit from customer feedback, read our cheat sheet.