Picture: 123RF/THANANIT SUNTIVIRIYANON
Picture: 123RF/THANANIT SUNTIVIRIYANON

The need to win customers and gain their trust amid increasing competition is a major challenge for most companies. Because of this, customer experience is growing in importance as a key differentiator to attract and retain customers, particularly in a tough economy. To meet customer expectations, the IT department should be included in the marketing department’s plans and aid in delivering the customer experience at every touchpoint along the customer journey.

However, while there is much hype about the benefits of technology and marketing working together, there also continues to be a great divide between these departments. And yet when they come together to achieve a common goal they can achieve great things and drive business success. 

Customer experience has previously been the marketing department’s responsibility. However, new technologies such as automation and artificial intelligence can transform the delivery of customer experience. This creates the opportunity for the IT department and marketing department to work together.

Both departments are critical to the success of a company. They offer a diverse range of strengths to organisations. Marketing departments bring a creative and customer-focused approach, while IT provides both a technical and problem-solving perspective. At the same time, marketing is often seen to want to adopt the latest technologies while IT is focused on governance, security and enterprise architecture.

As customers start to hold companies accountable for keeping their data secure, the role of IT and marketing needs to align to meet customer expectations in terms of customer experience as well as in keeping their personal information secure from potential data breaches.

Technology is a critical component in helping companies to overcome several business challenges, including dealing with the impact of a recession. According to research findings published in Harvard Business Review (“How to survive a recession and thrive afterwards”), recessions can create performance gaps between companies, but investing in digital technology before a recession provides analytics and agile business practices to help companies better understand the threat they face and to enable them  to respond more quickly to market changes. The findings show that  during a recession companies that invested in technology outperformed those that did not.

The big take-out

As business challenges continue into 2020, marketing departments should be working more closely with IT to deliver customer experiences that differentiate their brands.

Several factors influence the role technology plays in helping companies overcome the impact of a recession. Technology provides access to data that gives companies the ability to make decisions to meet their customers’ needs, while at the same time enabling them to adapt to the environment and respond to their customers with tailored solutions and aid in cost-cutting. Many of these benefits can spill over into marketing departments.

In many instances, marketers have collected customer data for several years, but have not had access to the tools needed to extract and interpret this data. This is where marketing and IT should be working together more closely to improve marketing insights and close the loop on the customer experience.

Customer experience, a key focus for marketing departments, should not be delivered in isolation.  With tech-savvy customers, marketing departments are becoming more reliant on IT departments to develop technology solutions for customers to interact with the company at a time and on a platform that is convenient to them. This experience needs to align with the overall brand experience and requires insights from the marketing department to achieve this.

  •  Paula Sartini is the founder and CEO of BrandQuantum.