By Barend Emmerzaal, Sitecore MVP and Business Consultant, Macaw
With ever-demanding customers and rapidly changing technology, today’s digital world is all about creating human connections. Since we entered the age of the customer in 2010, many businesses have created visions that emphasize the importance of connecting in a relevant and personal way.
While strategic pillars like customer engagement, customer intimacy, or customer experience have become commodities, many organizations still face challenges when executing on these pillars. Why is this? What are the specific challenges? And how do you face them? The triple A model uses three strategic angles, each offering a unique avenue to the overlapping center: customer success. The model is a helpful tool for aligning your focus to drive customer success.
Every organization has a need for direction. Without it, your business becomes a rudderless ship. While most organizations have a clear vision and specific business goals, it’s often hard to incorporate them at all levels of the organization. I’ve seen, for example, many marketing departments running campaigns unaligned with the organization’s broader goals. Or only focusing on the goals relevant to them, ignoring those that other teams value. An e-commerce manager once told me he was only responsible for generating traffic to product pages. He couldn’t care less how that traffic was turned into leads. It wasn’t his responsibility.
To align your teams, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is it clear to every department/team why they do the things they do?
- Do the department’s/team’s objectives contribute to the business goals?
- Do you provide quantitative objectives like brand and identity awareness?
One helpful tool is mapping an overall customer journey. It should give weight to the different touchpoints, KPIs, and how these overlap. In the end, your customers don’t change as they progress along their journey from internal department to internal department. Their business with your brand is a relationship, don’t make it feel schizophrenic.
Your vision, goals, objectives, KPIs, and activities should all be aligned throughout the organization. While each team has a specific role to play, make sure everybody understands what they contribute to: mutual goals and objectives. Regularly check whether the vision and business goals resonate and if the objectives and KPIs can be traced back to the business goals.
One side note: Although business objectives are fixed for a longer period, your more tactical and operational goals should not be cast in stone. Stay agile to adapt to changing markets and customers.
To execute on their vision, many businesses have chosen digital experience platforms like Sitecore. I’m often surprised to still hear questions like "why Sitecore?" and "what can Sitecore actually do?”. While it’s quite easy to discover everything that Sitecore enables, I often talk to people who are uniformed. Add to that a lack of technical direction or too much freedom in departments and you create a frequently seen situation: a proliferation of disconnected martech tools and technologies and a fragmented data landscape. This is a recipe for disaster that will slow down your organization rather than accelerate it.
Being relevant and personal is still the only way to gain lifelong customers, and it requires data to create a 360-degree view of them. While individual tools may seem like a good choice, they make it harder to achieve the 360-degree customer view and a truly data-driven strategy. You end up with multiple data sources that are hard to combine and take time to connect to all your other sources, assuming that’s even possible. With a lot of great marketing tools that are driven by valuable data and insights and are easily combined, Sitecore should be playing a central role in your data strategy.
It’s essential to put Sitecore in a broader perspective. Sitecore is not a mere content management system. It’s a digital experience platform for customers, but can also serve an internal function for your employees. As the single repository for your content, it can drive internal applications and, for example, help your customer support employees find answers for customers. Content, data, and tools can serve the internal and external world.
Having great visions and plans is one thing. Executing them properly is another. To get really connected with your customers, employees and departments need to collaborate. You don’t want islands in your organization driven by their own goals and beliefs. Blending teams will help break down the walls creating silos. Business, sales, marketing, and IT – they should all work together in multi-disciplinary teams, focusing on the same goals. It’s like the muscles in our arms and hands. While they all have different tasks, they must work together to grab something. In this case, that something is your customer.
If you really want to have teams working on mutual goals, blended teams consist of more than a business representative joining some developers now and then. Your teams should include at least the following capabilities:
- Development (front-end and back-end)
- Digital marketing analysts
- Conversion specialists
- User experience design
- Visual design
Align teams according to overall customer journeys and make sure you have someone or a team that is responsible for executing on those journeys holistically. I have seen great customer journeys, with different teams responsible for single parts of those journeys. But what set those successes apart is that each team kept the big picture in mind while focused on their part of the journey. For those that failed to create connected journeys, there was no one responsible for driving the synergy between the teams to create a seamless experience for the customer.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do your teams have mutual goals that require collaboration to achieve them?
- Are your blended teams really blended and working as a whole on a day-to-day basis?
- Which capabilities are you missing within the teams to get them up to speed?
Connecting with people isn’t easy. It takes time to perfect. It requires changes throughout all aspects of the entire organization: people, processes, and technology. Take time to view the organization from a distance and use the above model to identify how well you perform on the Aim, Apply, and Align perspectives.
Barend Emmerzaal is a Business Consultant and helps customers with digital marketing strategy and ROI on the Sitecore Platform at Macaw. Barend is a 2019 Sitecore Strategy MVP, one of only two in The Netherlands, an active contributor to the Sitecore Community, and a blogger. Check out his helpful Sitecore-related blog posts and video channels on YouTube and follow him on Linkedin or Twitter @barendemmerzaal.