Brand and Technology – How the Digital Experience Affects Brand Loyalty

Joanne Nelson, VP International Marketing, Logicalis, looks at the technology user experience and its influence on brand perception.

Marketing departments have long been key technology drivers - until recently with the consent of the IT department. The tech team have been more than happy to support laptops with PowerPoint installed, specialist marketing software and customer databases for instance.

In recent years marketers have had a tempting choice of tools, such as marketing automation, SEO and CRM, to help them gain a competitive advantage.

The challenge to IT departments has been to assess, implement and integrate these tools in a timely way. As the recent Logicalis CIO Survey shows, the majority of CIOs say between 60-80% of their time is spent on day-to-day tasks. Little wonder then that, in the face of increased security threats and ‘keeping the lights on’, this has not been a top priority for their resources.

The result has been a rise in Shadow IT; the introduction of SaaS services, mobile devices, apps and other third party offerings into the corporate environment with little, if any, IT department involvement. So much so that, as the Logicalis CIO Survey has consistently shown, Shadow IT is increasingly accepted, even embraced.

But is this disconnect between marketing and IT something we should be concerned about?

Marketing and IT – Time to Hold Hands?

The short answer is ‘yes’.  That is, as the march to digital transformation continues, businesses should be asking themselves just how well marketing and IT are working together to ensure customers’ experience of the brand is positive.

The precise role of this marketing and IT marriage depends on the nature of the business - but in all cases, it is ever more important.

For disruptive digital businesses, like Uber, Airbnb and Amazon, technology is the brand, so it’s importance is glaringly obvious.

For longer established businesses, the picture is less clear-cut, but just as important.  In these cases, the bare minimum is that day-to-day customer facing technology does not negatively affect the brand. Unfortunately there are all too many examples of companies getting this wrong.

Bad Wi-Fi and your Brand

While travelling in Australia last year, I was struck by the number of hotels that made a charge for Wi-Fi and internet access.

I commented on this to a colleague in Melbourne and he agreed. He told me that the best-kept secret in Melbourne was a coffee chain that offered exceptional free Wi-Fi.

That certainly resonated with me.  I don’t know how many times I have chosen meetings venues based on the quality of the Wi-Fi  – even if the coffee isn’t great.

Similarly, one of the train operators in the UK offers free Wi-Fi for passengers. If you are on a standard class it is, as one Twitter user said, “like surfing through the eye of a needle.” Not great.  If you are on First Class, you get a much better service.

The approach entrenches the existing negative feelings passengers have about the brand.

Bad Retail Tech

National newspapers have recently reported the chaos caused when a bank updated its online services. At the time of writing it is producing a maelstrom of negative brand chatter – and they are not alone.

Cash machines that don’t work and faulty card readers in shops and restaurants all produce a sinking feeling in customers, borne from the disappointment that they cannot give a business their custom.

Bad Tech and Customer Service

So many calls to customer service lines are still plagued by, slow, faulty and siloed computer systems - and these are all issues that make it harder for staff to delight their customers.

Why do you have to transfer me to someone else because “that’s on a different system”? Why do I get lost in the phone system and why, when I do get through, does my information not follow me, so I have to repeat the problem all over again? That question has already been answered – it’s on a different system.

It’s tough enough for call centre staff without throwing a tech spanner in the works.

Data Protection and Your Brand

In a 2017 survey a massive 70% of consumers stated they would stop doing business with an organisation if it experienced a data breach.

Furthermore, 93% of consumers said they would take or consider taking legal action against a business that has been breached.

The question here is whether the marketing function is working with IT on data security and incident planning? Or is it only a marketing problem once the worst has happened?

One Strategy for the Whole Business

When it comes to technology and the customer experience, it is no good simply asking sales and marketing people to map the customer journey and build communications to fit.

The whole business needs to be involved and two important issues need to be addressed.

First, and strategically, the question should not be “what shall we do with this tech”? (be it AI, machine learning, data analytics or the entire digital transformation) but “what experience do our prospects, leads and customers want, and what tech would best deliver that?”

Second, resources need to be made available to IT departments to comfortably prioritise this: Only 25% of CIOs outsource more than 50% of their IT. Delivering greater revenue and better customer experiences doesn’t need to mean massive internal reorganisation.

That’s what the digital disruptors do – and it seems to be working.

Tags Digital Transformation, IT Leadership, Strategy, IT leaders, Business Strategy

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