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Why martech must be invisible - and three ways to achieve it

28th Sep 2017
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At a trade show recently, I had what I can only describe as a painful experience with marketing technology. An exclusive event to which I'd been invited required me to register using a QR code.

Just a few problems there: my phone didn’t have a QR reader, the trade show hall had spotty Wi-Fi, and I was just about out of phone data. My only recourse was to type a long and complicated URL into my smartphone's web browser. Overall, it wasn’t a great experience.

That anecdote is a prime example of visible technology. These options possess powerful tech capabilities and the potential to provide great experiences for end users but end up hindering experiences by being implemented incorrectly or unintelligently.

Technology is a powerful entity that can simplify our brand experiences for both customers and prospective buyers. Still, technology shines when it’s “invisible.” Services that support user experience without disrupting or distracting when they fail are the best options for companies working on tech strategies.

Tech and strategy as a balancing act

Technology and strategy should complement each other. When leveraging new technologies, it's tempting to focus on deploying the latest features as quickly as possible to stay ahead of the competition, but success always comes down to how well you know your end user.

When unveiling martech to new and existing customers, gauging customers' interest and their ability to adapt is important. When these two conditions line up, your customers are delighted by an experience, and the accompanying technology can slip into the background and become altogether invisible.

AI and machine learning are great examples of invisible technologies that are creating better, more frictionless customer experiences.

On the flip side, don’t forget to recognise and understand how technology affects marketing strategy. For instance, if your customers are overwhelmingly abandoning email for social media, then make sure you're leveraging martech solutions that allow your company to seamlessly connect with customers on the platforms they use.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are great examples of invisible technologies that are creating better, more frictionless customer experiences. By learning consumer behaviors and analysing relevant contextual data, these technologies allow marketers to connect with customers at the moments when they’re most ready to be converted.

The more that technology can fade into the background and not be noticed by a customer, the more buyers will notice the level of service. In other words, invisibility is the best way to make your martech be seen.

How invisible technology can be seen

Marketing leaders need to focus on human-centered design and technology that emphasises functionality and minimises failure. These strategies can help your company utilise the kind of technology that’s an unsung hero for your customers:

1. Put the customer first and the tech second.

Know everything about your customer — who they are and how best to connect with them — before implementing technology-driven initiatives. Mold the tech around the user, not the other way around. For example, if your audience prefers email, don’t try to interact with it via social media.

Negative experiences with tech have major impacts on customer behaviors. After experiencing a negative involvement with a brand, 39% of customers will avoid a vendor for two years, while 78% will abandon a transaction because of an unpleasant service experience.

The best way to measure customer experience is to collect feedback and use it to drive tech strategies. The Net Promoter Score survey is an excellent tool because it asks customers about the likelihood of recommending your company.

2. Don't just advertise — be useful.

Using data analytics, mining, AI, and algorithms to simply put your ad in front of the right buyer at the right time isn’t enough.

You need a strategy to help you react to customer behaviours and continually adapt to them over time. Ambient intelligence is useful for this because it senses and adapts to users over time to provide customers with minimally intrusive experiences and opt-in features that make their journeys easier.

3. Keep the experience consistent.

Let's say you leverage AI and contextual data mining to create a highly effective marketing campaign that reaches prospects in key decision-making moments. You get the seamless technology experience you're looking for behind the scenes, but once those prospects become customers, the experience gets clunky.

Suddenly, that personalisation the customers took for granted while being courted is gone. Now, they must authenticate through impersonal interactive voice responses, and when they speak to a customer care representative, that person has no background about their needs or their history with the brand.

The point is that the experience you are leveraging technology to facilitate needs to be consistent across your organisation — nobody can operate in a silo. Good customer experiences are everyone's affair, and you must take that into account when deploying technology if it is truly to remain invisible.

Technology is changing how we market and communicate with customers, but it works best when it's invisible. Customers benefit the most when the technology is focused on design and strategy and when it takes a supportive role, not center stage.

Steve Pollema oversees TeleTech’s Customer Technology Services division, which focuses on helping its clients deliver exceptional customer experiences by providing premise- and cloud-based CX solutions. With more than 30 years’ experience in systems integration and management consulting, Pollema has significant client-focused experience in large-scale system development and maintenance, program management, and business planning and development. He previously worked at eLoyalty, Whittman-Hart, MarchFirst, and Accenture.


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