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July 16, 2019
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Why This CEO Says Companies Should Treat Customer Experience As A Product

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Originally posted on Forbes.com

Customer experience (CX) is becoming one of the most influential factors driving marketing technology decisions. Today’s most dynamic companies see digital transformation as a never-ending process that evolves alongside the ever-changing needs and wants of their customers. This perspective forces companies to be highly selective when buying and implementing new technology, in order to deliver a unique and exceptional experience when engaging customers, employees and partners.

CX is crucial to a company’s retention and innovation, both of which are key to gaining a competitive advantage. According to the Harvard Business Review, customers who have had good past experiences spend 140% more than those who’ve had bad past experiences.

While modern technology is critical to delivering the speed, efficiency and personalization today’s consumers demand, too much technology is quickly becoming a hindrance for companies around the world. A recent survey of 500 marketing executives revealed that 59% use two to five dashboards to assess performance, while some executives use 10 to over 20 dashboards. Unsurprisingly, 56% of marketing executives feel “overwhelmed” by the volume of data in their technology stacks. And when marketing departments are overwhelmed, CX is bound to suffer.

Forbes Agency Council member Mike Couch is the CEO of Couch & Associates, a Toronto-based marketing and advertising firm delivering innovative marketing solutions to Fortune 1000 firms and top brands throughout the world. In order to optimize growth and gain a competitive edge in the digital era, Couch says companies need to prioritize the uniqueness of their customers’ needs and the efficiency of their CX when assembling and updating their technology stacks.

“There is an abundance of technology available today, and this can be confusing to buyers. While technologies are easily purchased, they can often be a generic way to solve a company’s digital transformation challenges. This can result in an expensive trophy wall of software, which isn’t effective, as it doesn’t cater to customer expectations or differentiate a company from its competitors,” Couch says.

When technology stacks become too large and not targeted enough, companies are susceptible to data silos and a never-ending cycle of new technologies. According to Couch, this tech-driven approach to CX often leads to disconnect between brands and consumers.

He advises companies to treat CX as a product, using agile development and management strategies. Much like agile product development, whereby products are constantly iterated with the belief that a product is never perfect, CX should constantly evolve to meet customers’ needs. This process isn’t necessarily enhanced by stacking more technology, but it is greatly dependent on cultivating a shared vision across a company’s sales, marketing and technology departments.

Couch says companies should start by roadmapping their unique CX objectives and initiatives, then recruit the necessary technologies to achieve those objectives, instead of focusing on technology first. This way, companies can iterate their CX faster and with better precision.

“Companies that excel have technology stacks that directly serve their desired outcomes. Have concrete goals, then make your purchasing decisions to support them. Also, keep in mind that the quality of your technology implementation is critical in measuring the effectiveness of your CX strategy,” Couch says.

Ultimately, when it comes to building an efficient technology stack, Couch endorses industry word-of-mouth. He recommends sourcing unbiased information, whenever and wherever possible: “Your trusted network is a great place to start, since your peers will be at some stage in their digital transformation and will have encountered similar challenges. My team has found great value in creating events to connect people who can learn from each other.”

For more information, check out Mike Couch’s executive profile here. To learn more about Forbes Agency Council and see if you qualify for membership, click here.

Mike Couch
Mike Couch
Mike Couch is the CEO/Managing Partner of Couch & Associates, a global marketing technology firm based out of Toronto, Canada. He is a passionate leader with a clear vision - empowering customers to unlock their data and leverage it for financially responsible sales and marketing decisions. In addition, Mike is a thought leader on topics related to marketing, sales, strategy, and technology with ongoing international speaking engagements. Through his leading reputation, he is also a recently appointed member of the Forbes Agency Council, an invitation-only community of world-class business professionals. He was one of the early employees at Eloqua Corporation and has continued his relationship with them enlisting Couch & Associates as one of Oracle/Eloqua's major partners for large revenue businesses.

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