Put 100 customer experience marketers in a room and you might expect nearly 100 different ideas on how to become a truly customer-led organization. However, at the recent Integrated Marketing Leadership Series (IMLS) in Chicago, we did exactly that and found that certain themes were practically universal. Most notably, there was consensus behind the idea that a creative, agile, and innovative approach to customer experiences starts with the internal culture you create. It’s important to recognize that culture is a journey, and each organization is unique. However, any brand can benefit from the following tips as you work to transform the culture within your marketing team.
1. Be willful.
Creating culture almost always means implementing change—and change is rarely sparked by a “what if” mentality. Instead, try a “we will” approach that acknowledges, accepts, and encourages learning.
2. Try pilot projects.
One of the hardest parts of a culture shift is knowing where to start, an issue compounded by the multi-faceted and rapidly evolving nature of digital customer experiences. Almost anyone who has undergone these kinds of transformations has the same advice: start small. When considering which project to take on, look for something that’s highly desirable but also achievable. This will give you the quick win you need to build momentum.
3. Re-evaluate your data.
Conversions matter, but they aren’t everything. You’ll need to look at your data from the perspective of the customer. What do they care about? Chances are you have the data you need to become customer-focused right now, you just haven’t leveraged it yet. Make sure you also identify measurement metrics to gauge whether you’ve made improvements. There are customers at the end of your decisions, so be sure you’re communicating with them, not just trying to push messages at them (and that will pay dividends).
4. Fail fast forward.
Some might argue that there is no failure in innovation. Successful or not, testing will always lead to new insights. A customer-focused culture requires the ability to move on to the next new idea once you’ve learned from your previous efforts.
5. Train for creativity.
At its core, creativity is simply finding unique ways to connect ideas. And whether you’re a designer, copywriter, channel manager, or e-commerce expert, you probably excel at making valuable connections. However, you might not be as skilled at making those associations quickly, under pressure, or in various iterations. There’s a reason for that; it takes regular, repeated practice. You will need to deliberately build in design thinking processes, brainstorming sessions, and creative problem solving practices to prepare your team to deliver customer experience updates that move at the speed of the customer.
Remember that there’s one thing at the center of all of these efforts: you’re marketing to real people, not just data points. Internally and externally, listening is an important part of the process when you’re building culture and becoming customer-led. By listening to your customers, you’ll develop a better understanding of their needs and create empathy, which often further stimulates response. And, when you’re continually human-centered, you’ll always be relevant.
For more on how to build a customer-centric culture, follow the links below or reach out to Rise.