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David Blaseby of MullenLowe Profero: how creative agencies can succeed at CX

The recipe for successful CX implementation.

I’m not a good cook beyond the basics. Ask me to make anything fancy and I can guarantee the flavours of soap and the texture of a walrus’ behind.

My only culinary claim to fame is an omelette. Perhaps a mild overclaim but you won’t find a better one this side of the channel – and all because I wanted to beef-up during some highly dubious teenage years.

The secret is all in the mixing. If you don’t know what you’re doing – mix the eggs a tad too fast or drop the filling in too soon – and you’ll have the consistency of rubber before you can say “ô catastrophe.”

Aside from my terrible cooking, I’ve spent many years creating Customer Experiences and have luckily been so much more successful there. But much like the humble omelette, the secret sauce is how you bring the ingredients together.

Over time I’ve seen and experienced a lot of dubious CX recipes.

Client businesses can often struggle to appreciate the capabilities they need, and technology vendors, system integrators, consultancies and agencies shamelessly sell their wares rather than the solution to fix the client problem. It’s not always on purpose, often they just don’t understand the problem in the first place.

The outcome of all of this is client businesses end up with lame duck technology, poor performing experiences and fall well short of the promised value return they’ve made to the business. I recently caught up with one of the leading martech analysts at Forrester – who reinforced the issue – every CMO he speaks to is complaining and doubting the validity of the spend.

However we know big tech firms and technology-led start-ups, including the likes of Cazoo and Starling, get CX right and continue to drive dramatic revenue growth.

We also know consumers continue to lean into more human and relevant digital experiences.

Earlier this year, MullenLowe Profero commissioned research to see how the pandemic was shaping CX trends. The findings were profound. It identified that UK brands risk losing up to £12bn in the UK online sales from poor digital experiences, with nearly ½ of our 1,500 respondents saying they would buy or spend more time with a brand that had a great digital experience, whilst 1/3 said they’d actively avoid brands with cumbersome digital experiences.

It also highlighted how consumers expect brands to keep up with big tech and also want a more human experience in digital. 24% of consumers were frustrated with a brand that didn’t seem to understand them, and nearly a quarter (23%) said they preferred brands that use their data to create a more meaningful, relevant experience over brands that don’t ask for personal data at all.

So to every CMO out there questioning how to create a decent digital experience, and to every agency trying to establish what went wrong with their previous project, I’ll share with you my recipe for the perfect CX.

It’s based on years of experience within MullenLowe Profero and the wider IPG Group, where we’ve built the experience and capabilities across data, technology and customer experience to deliver for the likes of Harley-Davidson, Millennium Hotels, Wagamama and Honda as well as many more (below.).

The recipe includes seven vital ingredients – people, customer insight, brand-led experience design, data, technology and process.

The first ingredient in the bowl is people. Without the right talents who understand the vision and can cover the various capabilities, be that internally or through partners, or an invested executive team, don’t bother.

Secondly, start with the customer. Get to know your customer and listen to them. Base any strategy off customer insight and derive the solution from that. Businesses often come at the problem technology first or based solely on their business goals, with often disastrous results. We are often brought in to clear up the spilt milk.

Thirdly, demonstrate you understand the customer. Deriving content and creative experiences that deliver on their wants, needs and goals. Disrupt and be distinctive by making the most of any company’s most valuable assets – it’s brand and tone of voice. We call this brand-led experience design and your experience will taste like value baked beans without it. Those who claim technology is more important than creativity should be ignored.

After that you need to create an enterprise capability, mobilise and make it accessible. Bring together the IT, Data and Marketing teams to create this and ensure the CX strategy use cases are driving the technology selection and data setup. Martech can often fall into a gap between IT and Marketing which must be avoided.

And finally don’t forget the sprinkling of process. Operational management is critical and businesses often underestimate the time and effort needed to run the machine. Make sure processes are defined, team members are in place and trained before you go live.

So there you have it, go break some eggs. It’s all in how you mix them together.

David Blaseby is Managing Partner of MullenLowe Profero.

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