I have decided to learn playing classical guitar almost 9 years ago. It was my dream for many years, but somehow delayed until I was 42 years old. So, as most of us would do, I asked for help from my personal network to find a good teacher and decided to start working with one of the highly recommended professionals.
Naturally, we have started with some basics like how to sit and hold the guitar in the right position, how to use the left and right hands properly, how to produce a clean sound, etc. However, once he realized that I have some background on the music notation (and probably assuming that I don’t have too much time left taking into account my age 😊) he proposed to fast forward and start working on the actual composed music pieces.
Of course, this was quite tempting for me, at the end of the day, who wouldn’t want to be able to start playing some very well known pieces to impress friends, family, other people, right? So, we have started to practice that way and not in a very long time, I was really able to play some pieces. This was quite satisfying, so I have moved forward with this strategy until I realized that something was wrong.
Listening to what I have been playing, I realized that yes, I was able to play the notes on the sheet in a certain sequence to produce a certain melody, but the outcome was not a smooth and nicely flowing music like the ones I used to listen from other people. On top of that, every time I tried to speed up, my left and right hand coordination was getting out of sync. With some research and thinking, it suddenly became crystal clear for me that this was quite normal since I have skipped all the basic techniques, like how to improve the flexibility of your fingers, how to pull the strings with your nails, etc., to build a solid foundation.
So, I just had to go all the way back and start all over again to make it right this time. Not skipping any step along the way and by putting sufficient effort with regular practices, I have improved my playing and achieved the desired result.
Looking back, I can now see what I have done wrong initially, I just wanted to start running before learning how to crawl and walk at the first place!
In fact, I see similar cases on my professional life. Not rarely, when we ask our customers what their objectives and targets are when it comes to the CX ecosystem they would like to build, they mention about fancy trends like using AI algorithms to segment the audiences they would like to target, or incorporating machine learning into their processes, or using chatbots to answer customer service calls.
This is quite understandable by the way, we all would like to get benefit of new trends, technologies, etc., as soon as possible. However, when we start questioning the very basic foundations which should be in place to leverage these advanced features, I have to say that most of the time we see that there are significant gaps between what is required and what is in hand.
On a recent occasion, we had an online meeting with a C-level executive of a leading retail brand where we were presenting the features of the technology components which we think would be a good fit for that brand along with the architecture we proposed. Right after couple of slides, we started to hear comments and questions like, “well, we are well aware of these technologies and features, we are actually using them”, or “does this product have an AI capability to predict my target audience?”. However, after some key questions from our side, it turned out that they have multiple sources of customer data sitting in siloes, causing the inability of creating even simple segments and lack of orchestration of the communication channels since all those channels (email, SMS, push, etc.) are operated on different platforms with no integration, at all.
I have to admit that I am still not quite sure whether she has realized that after all those facts came to the surface, but it was so clear to us that they were trying to start running, even though they have not been able to even start crawling towards their goal.
Having seen this scenario multiple times during our engagements with potential customers, we always propose a very well known, but usually ignored approach to them:
We all know that human beings have to first learn how to crawl to move from one point to another. In time, once they are strong enough to raise and stay on their feet, they start to take little steps first to walk towards the goal. Eventually, once they feel confident with this new way of moving and are able to do it in a balanced and solid way, they start to run and reach to the target even faster.
I believe since this is the normal course of life, we are not paying enough attention to this phenomenon and miss to apply the same principles to journeys we take during our lives like I have experienced while I was trying to learn how to play guitar.
The point here is that we really need to keep in mind this approach while we are designing business processes and experiences that the brands would like to offer to their customers is definitely not an exception.
Let’s take a quite straightforward process of communicating a message to a specific segment of customers over multiple channels, as an example.
Starting to crawl is like bringing all the customer related data in one place and unify. This will enable the brands to understand their customers’ behaviors, needs, expectations in detail and create specific segments to be targeted for marketing campaigns. These customers will start to receive communications directly addressing them over multiple channels like email, SMS, app and web push, etc.
Once the crawling is brought to perfection, brands can start to walk where they utilize a cross channel orchestration platform to optimize the communication over these channels. Scenarios like not sending a SMS to a customer who has already received and opened an email regarding the same marketing campaign will be possible. This, of course, will result in a better customer experience since people will not receive the same message multiple times over different channels. On top of that, their engagement data can also be used for further enrichment of customer data.
Finally, there comes the ‘running’ and more advanced technologies can be applied like AI algorithms to apply strategies like ‘channel optimization’, ‘send time optimization’, etc. Since the necessary data structure and communication structure is already achieved, now brands can get the maximum benefit out of their investments.
At the end of the day, ‘crawl, walk, and run approach’ will provide a consistent path to the brands towards reaching the ideal marketing strategy.