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Modern Customer Experience 2017

Report From the Front Line

July 20, 2017

On April 25-27, marketers from around the world gathered at the Las Vegas Mandalay Bay Casino & Resort for “Modern Customer Experience 2017,” hosted by American IT giant Oracle Corporation. Our Wisdom writer, Kawasaki, reports on the event.

The conference demonstrated ways of understanding the customer experience (CX) in today’s global market by showcasing the latest technologies and advanced applications.

Nearly 300 presentation sessions were scheduled during the three-day event in spacious meeting areas of the resort. Information related to the sessions was available through apps. Downloadable presentation documents used in seminars were sent to event subscribers by e-mail. At night famous musicians performed in concerts and clubs throughout the resort. I was a little surprised to learn that Modern Customer Experience was just one Oracle-sponsored event.

Venue: Mandalay Bay Casino & Resort
Mandalay Bay view of the front of last year’s venue, the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino.

The Importance of CX

What’s the big deal about CX? During her presentation, Laura Ipsen, general manager and senior vice president for Oracle Marketing Cloud, said the era of using a single advertising campaign to mass-market a brand is over. Now it’s one on one. Ad “personalization” is accelerating as mobile and other channels make it possible to connect with consumers anytime. Each person can have a unique experience. The idea is to build a lifetime of friendly relations with the customer. A CEO-oriented investigation that IT consulting firm Gartner has carried out the past three years cites CX as the crucial business challenge. CX has become the accumulation of all touchpoints that enable customers to interact with a company.

Laura Ipsen

At the outset of his keynote speech on the first day of the conference, Oracle CEO Mark Hurd tossed out some pithy corporate facts. Only 10% of the companies listed on the Fortune 500 in 1990 exist now under their original name. As of 2000, half of the companies had remained. Forty percent of CEOs quit within 18 months. The average length of a CEO’s tenure is 18 quarters. Although CEO tenures that steadily decline with the severity of the job may herald cost savings, he wondered how profits are supposed to be generated, referring to the charts below.

Next he spoke of his own experience as an unhappy customer.

“I land at an airport at night. I’m going to be late for a meeting in town as it is, and there’s no car waiting for me. So I call the rent-a-car place and the lady asks me for my (reservation) number. … You know, I don’t have the number, but I’m Mark Hurd. Can you search under my name? … After 15 minutes of banter between her and me, she takes a long time to find the number, then tells me ‘Oh, we don’t have any cars.’”

Oracle CEO Mark Hurd

Hurd said he was so upset that he almost dealt a cruel blow to the rental car agency. By phone he told his company, which has 143,000 employees, not to rent cars from the agency anymore. He called this a point-blank example of CX.

Hurd concluded with a chat and demonstration about raising each customer’s potential lifetime value. He said detailed information is displayed immediately on company terminals when a customer contacts Oracle. In addition to the customer’s purchase history, employees are given estimates of the problem, solution proposals, and the contents of letters that identify the circumstances causing dissatisfaction.

Experience, Process, Knowledge, and Data bridge the ‘silos’ that separate company employees from customers

Why is seamless CX difficult? Gartner Research Vice President and Distinguished Analyst Gene Phifer talked about this during a panel discussion on the second day of the conference. In every department and with every product, the data problem becomes a silo, he said. On big issues, not only data but also people become a rigid silo (as illustrated below).

In a scattered organization, even data do not connect. Integrate data and the business process, and organization will follow, Phifer said. For superior CX, integration must change corporate culture, and that takes a lot of work.

The four bridges of Experience, Data, Process, and Knowledge will connect the silos that separate company employees from customers. These connections should enable interaction on new channels and devices by providing a platform that can flexibly adapt to new AI and IoT technologies. (Phifer)

Recent marketing reports that have come out still may not lead to action, but now AI is in play. With regard to what the customer wants, which issues should be given priority, and so forth, AI is being developed to indicate the most efficient action. The role of marketers is no longer limited to investigation and analysis. Individual customers are the focus. The Gartner firm predicts that 30% of B2B companies will have introduced AI into their business activities by 2020.

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