Many marketers have opined that automation is antithetical to personalized marketing and customer experiences. They claim that automation is ruining great marketing, however, this is not the case. It isn’t automation that hurts CX, but rather failing to think about automation in the context of a customer journey. Brands must build experiences that react to their customer’s true needs and they must react in real-time. We have updated this blog to reflect some of the changes to automation and digital experience that we’ve seen since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
How and Why Automation is Ruining Marketing
Here at Kitewheel, our President Mark Smith is fond of saying how “the only thing worse than not automating, is automating the wrong thing.” Poorly designed and integrated automation is affecting marketing success. But there is an important distinction. Poorly designed and integrated automation fails. Because marketers and agencies aren’t automating the right things, they frustrate customers. Not only that. Businesses don’t see the full value from their investments in automation.
Management and business requirements pressure marketers to put out as much content as quickly as possible. Many times, this leads to mismatched or impersonal automated responses The truth is that even otherwise top-notch brands sometimes get caught up in this issue They want to automate the simple things – like sign up emails, customer onboarding, or ad retargeting.
Although marketers often get caught up in simply making a campaign or automation happen, they must focus more broadly on how that automation can deliver a personalized experience. This is the key issue: businesses are automating processes, not experiences.
Why Businesses Automate Badly
Marketers are limited in capacity to achieve YoY growth, and so we have turned to our next best solution, automated software. But that impact in investing in tech doesn’t necessarily mean success.
Automation does save some labor costs, but if it results in a disjointed experience, the money saved is not worth it. When a customer is struggling, it’s insulting to leave them to navigate a phone system for fifteen minutes before disconnecting them without ever letting them speak to a person, if that’s the goal they’ve been trying to achieve.
To address this, some businesses have invested in analytics, but most lack customer journey analytics, providing a breadth of insights across the business. This has led to a failure to automate personalized experiences. Because customer journey analytics isn’t in place at most businesses, marketers haven’t been able to consistently synchronize communications across business units or departments. Without this synchronization, it’s impossible to deliver great experiences with automation.
How Automation is Saving Marketing
If the previous section sounds like exactly what you’ve already been told about automation, it begs the question: What does a clean, personalized customer experience feel like?
We’ve written before how marketing and CX are beginning to look like one another. This is perhaps the biggest reason that automation is having a massive impact on how top brands deliver great experiences. Far from automation ruining marketing, this customer focused thinking is allowing marketers to deliver incredible, automated experiences. Automated isn’t a moral good, or always the right choice for an interaction. When marketers can automate to push personalization at scale is when it is most powerful.
You’ll find automated customer journeys at today’s top businesses, specifically digital leaders. Take for example, Spotify’s ability to recommend music, playing automatically based on your tastes and interests. It will sometimes be wrong, but the vast majority of the time, it knows what you like to listen to and will play it. Businesses across industry should try to act the same way.
Businesses Need Both Orchestration and Analytics to Automate Properly
Did you know that 70% of customers expect and want more personalized experiences? Far from ruining marketing, automation is the only way to be an omnichannel marketing expert. Many brands want to deliver incredible value to customers through personalized, consistent experiences. Ultimately the ability to do this comes down to having the right tools and strategies in the right place at the right time, with the right messaging.
If your business can understand the entire customer lifecycle, then you can use that knowledge to deliver value. Journey analytics can tell marketers how to improve their strategies, not just give them an image of their current state.
Brands Must Adapt in the Era of COVID and Beyond.
Many customers have faced significant disruptions to their regular lives during the COVID-19 Pandemic. With these changes automation and the digital experience have become more important than ever. One of Kitewheel’s clients, Direct Energy was able to take advantage of automated analytics to make rapid changes. Direct Energy was able to quickly use their journey analytics tools to track and identify new journey paths. This allowed them to triage the customers most in need of help. From there, they were able to understand how customer behaviors had changed due to the newly all-digital experience. By listening to what each customer was doing in real-time, identifying if they were infrequent or returning visitors, and steering customers to the help they needed, Direct Energy was able to make the discomfort and uncertainty of COVID that much more palatable.
Automation is Here To Stay
So why not do it right? Especially as the world deals with the ongoing impacts of the COVID 19 pandemic, it’s crucial that you get your customer experience right.
Do you want to learn more about how Kitewheel can take your current systems, intelligently automate, and build better experiences for your customers? Check out our Guide to the Fundamentals of Journey Management for a great place to start.