Christian Lim, Chief Operating Officer, Microsoft Philippines
Recently, a CMO of a large bank shared to me how they are perceived as a “tool” (in his crude words “slave”) rather than a business partner. This is quite sad to hear since the truth of the matter, today, the responsibilities of marketing go far beyond branding, with CEOs relying on CMOs to be the interconnecting layer that joins the dots between each part of the business – from sales to finance through to product and customer experience.
This shift is being driven by the emergence of new digital platforms and technologies with Asia Pacific being home to four billion internet users and five billion mobile users. The Philippines alone has over 67 million internet users and 61 million mobile users, continuing to take the lead as the world’s heaviest internet users, with the average user in the country spending almost 4 hours on social media alone on a daily basis. A high proportion of these users are tech savvy and trend conscious. The increase in disposable income in the region is also having a positive impact on the market’s e-commerce sales, which is expected to hit a staggering US$3.5 trillion by 2021.
Empowering the CMO in the boardroom
CMOs are in the optimal position to spearhead organizations’ customer-centric strategies and initiatives and position themselves as the “voice of the consumer” in the boardroom.
With cloud-based CRM solutions and business analytics, CMOs will be able to access data from multiple customer touchpoints and gain insights about consumer needs and behaviors. These findings can be used to fuel innovation, personalize services, improve products, or even predict consumer demand.
Traditional businesses are utilizing technologies to transform their business models and customer engagement approaches in Asia Pacific. A good example is AIM, as a thought-leader in the business education for many years, Asian Institute of Management has always steadily conducted their operations over the years. There were always new students to come around, and there were always new things the institution could teach their students. But behind all these was also the need for digital transformation. Today, AIM now has a digital CRM and ERP platform that allows them to cater to their growing needs as premiere higher education institution.
As consumers’ digital activities continue to increase in Asia Pacific, it’s generating a tremendous and diverse amount of data. With the right analytics tools, this data is a rich source of insight for CMOs, providing them with a more accurate profile of their customers, including brand resonance, demographics, preferences and purchasing patterns. This empowers CMOs, letting them be more effective when engaging with customers while also providing their organizations with valuable insights into customer trends and feedback, which can then be applied to improve products and services.
The power of the consumer voice
For consumers, the digital movement has enabled them to seize the opportunity when it comes to when, where, and how they want to engage with an organization. Consumers are now in the driving seat. By voicing their support or criticism for specific brands or initiatives on digital channels, they are helping shape organizational services, actions, and values.
Consumers are also gaining influence and power over how others perceive brands and buy their products. According to a recent study, more than half of the consumers (55 percent) today have made a purchase from a social media channel. Consumers have also indicated that they are most likely to act on user-generated recommendations when shopping online. Still considered to be in the earliest stage of digital development, The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) report titled Digital Consumers, Emerging Markets, and the $4 Trillion Future revealed that 95% of Filipinos say they sometimes use social media to guide their retail purchases. This is due to the fact that while social media has indeed become a popular venue for direct e-commerce, whether through a brand’s social media account or in peer-to-peer transactions, digital influence is still growing rapidly.
Customer-Centricity as a Key Differentiator
As the voice of consumers become increasingly prominent and influential, more and more organizations today are shifting their business strategies from an inside-out to an outside-in approach, where customer value creation and customer experiences are seen as the keys to success.
As a result, organizations are seeking out new ways to engage customers and establish more meaningful relationships in place of historically transactional ones. In the Philippines, SMB Lay Bare saw an opportunity in the market when they realized other salons were only offering manual bookings, which can be a cumbersome experience for customers. Lay Bare digitally transformed this process, providing their customers with a quick, easy-to-use booking system. This made the booking process more seamless while reducing waiting time. The improvement in customer experience helped the SMB to engender stronger brand loyalty amongst its existing customers and provided a strong differentiator against its competitors.
By bringing their customer knowledge to the table, CMOs can help organizations to more accurately map out their entire customer journey. By providing quality data and insights that inform the organizations’ strategic decisions, CMOs can give their organizations the competitive advantage they need to survive and thrive in Asia Pacific’s hypercompetitive, constantly evolving digital landscape.
CMOs full value should be realized… it is never too late, but the transformation needs to start now.