Asia-Pacific and Japan (APJ) companies may want to take heed of the famous quote by American actress Mae West—“An ounce of performance is worth pounds of promises”—particularly as it relates to delivering on brand promises made to Asia’s 4.3 billion consumers.
In a new study on the state of customer experience across APJ, the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council reports that only 26 percent of marketers surveyed believe their back-office systems and operational structures enable their companies to live up to brand promises and marketing claims.
The CMO Council, in partnership with SAP, gathered insights from 245 senior marketers in 16 Asia-Pacific countries through an online audit during the third and fourth quarters of 2013. Findings from the audit show that only 10 percent of respondents felt there was strong alignment and synergy among functional heads when it comes to ensuring a seamless experience across all customer touch points and operational areas of the business.
With the voice and influence of Asia’s mobile device-connected, socially active and brand-conscious consumers mounting, regional marketers feel they need to step up their game when it comes to ensuring that companies live up to marketing claims and brand promises on an operational, after-market support and back-office-systems level.
“There is no point in wasting marketing resources on seducing customers with offers, incentives and captivating branding if there is a big disconnect on the product, business policy or service experience side,” noted Donovan Neale-May, Executive Director of the CMO Council. “You’ll just see churn, disaffection and bad word-of-mouth, which can be quite damaging in a socially connected region like Asia.”
The CMO Council notes that just 23 percent of marketers surveyed in APJ have calculated how the customer experience has directly impacted business performance through lost or gained revenue, retention, defection, detraction or advocacy.
APJ marketers believe customer-centric cultures require CEO mandates, management commitments and employee empowerment that is driven by real-time market insights, more personalized engagements and higher-value, actionable information and analytics delivered across the organization.
From a benchmarking standpoint, the CMO Council study, entitled “Maximize How You Individualize,” reveals that the customer experience lacks measurement, accountability and dedicated resources throughout APJ-based companies and multi-nationals operating in the region. This is surprising considering that 45 percent of survey respondents represented companies with $1 billion or more in revenue, and 30 percent held positions at companies with annual sales between $100 million and $1 billion.
Ownership of the customer experience is seen by survey participants to be fragmented and distributed across multiple titles and areas of operational responsibility, including the CMO (31 percent), head of service and support (10 percent), vice president or director of customer sales and service (9 percent), chief operations officer (8 percent), chief sales officer (6 percent), and chief experience officer (6 percent). Only 39 percent of marketers feel these individuals have the authority and budget to really influence and impact CXM.
“It is easy for marketers to get caught in a conversation about who owns the customer experience. In reality, everyone across the enterprise bears a responsibility to deliver consistent, relevant and delightful customer experiences. However, marketers have the unique opportunity to become the true champion of customer centricity by adopting customer-listening strategies and data-driven approaches that aid customer experience transformation,” noted Grace Ho, Managing Director of Marketing for SAP Asia-Pacific/Japan. “Today’s marketer is in a position to empower the organization with deep knowledge of the customer’s wants, needs and expectations. Social listening is an excellent way to glean customer sentiment about a product or service. Customer sentiment can be captured in real time and then shared across the organization to help adapt and shift customer experiences to maximize business outcomes. Insights from predictive analytics can foster understanding of the level of loyalty and attachment a customer has for your brand and help shape and unify the customer experience strategy for the entire organization.”
Most notably, the CMO Council highlighted the following key data points resulting from the study:
· Just 25 percent of companies have conducted a customer experience management (CXM) audit across all touch points, life stages and operational areas.
· Only 36 percent of marketers report having a formal CXM strategy or program in their organization.
· Only 24 percent have a comprehensive view of engagements and interactions across all stages of the customer lifecycle.
· Only 8 percent say they have well developed and fully evolved systems for understanding and meeting the needs of customers.
· Just 11 percent are highly satisfied with their ability to listen and respond to the needs of the customer.
In addition to the online survey, the CMO Council and SAP engaged on a qualitative level with groups of senior marketers in Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Melbourne, Mumbai, New Delhi, Seoul, Singapore and Sydney. Conversations with more than 160 marketers across APJ evidenced a strong desire for chief marketers to be the primary champion and ombudsman for the customer experience, tracking satisfaction, loyalty, reputation and word-of-mouth.
Topics covered in the CMO Council’s audit of customer experience in APJ included:
· Essential requirements to be a customer-centric company
· Challenges to delivering a seamless customer experience
· Most prevalent gaps in delivering customer experience
· How to better align functional areas around CXM
· Preferred channels for customers to interact with companies in APJ
· Solutions being considered or deployed for better listening and feedback
· Issues around managing customer data and gaining a 360-degree view
The 82-page report contains detailed findings from a 32-question online survey of 245 senior marketing executives across 16 countries and multiple industry sectors in Asia-Pacific and Japan. The full report ($199) includes summaries of best-practice interviews with marketing executives from companies like Air Asia, ANZ, BMW, Cathay Pacific Airways, Coles, Fujitsu, Godrej, Lenovo, Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Post, Standard Chartered Bank, Tata Capital, Virgin Mobile and Vodafone. The complete report and complimentary executive summary are also available by visiting www.cmocouncil.org/r/maximize-how-you-individualize.