“Tech’s Fine, But Nothing Beats Customer Experience”: ADMA Chief

“Tech’s Fine, But Nothing Beats Customer Experience”: ADMA Chief

Jodie Sangster, CEO of ADMA, is urging Australian incumbents to “stop investing in technology if you’ve not got a strategy” and instead focus on delivering a great customer experience by getting the basics right.

Niki Waldegrave
Posted by Niki Waldegrave

Sangster, who is speaking on day one of B&T’s Daze of Disruption event, hosted by The Chaser’s Chris Taylor at Melbourne Town Hall on December 3, insists that although customer experience is an organisational deliverable that usually sits within the marketing department, it’s really a business wide obligation to the customer.

She says the key to success is either by employing a chief customer officer who can make decisions which affect the business or, if it comes under the marketing department’s remit, to give the marketing department the authority to be able to make those tough decisions which affect the whole of the business, not just marketing.

“Strategy comes first always,” Sangster told B&T. “Look at what you’re trying to achieve, why you’re trying to achieve it, what outcomes you’re aiming for and how that affects the business, then invest to get that right and actually implement that across the business. I think what people are tending to do at the moment is invest heavily in technology. There’s a thought, ‘we’ve got to invest in technology’ and then it doesn’t deliver. It’s a completely pointless operation. You’ve got to be investing to deliver to a strategy otherwise it’s not going to work.”

Sangster says in order to nail it businesses need to use “technology to drive it, content to engage and creativity to kind of have the emotional connection,” and the GlobalDMA’s – comprising over 30 of the leading global marketing associations and of which Sangster is the Chair – latest research expected to be released later this month, shows Australia is the country investing in this most

The focus of research asks the question, ‘what’s hindering your ability to actually deliver on customer experience?’ and Sangster says there are some key answers to this

  1. There isn’t enough budget and buy-in from the top.
  2. Technology. “Actually trying to get our technology integrated so that we can deliver truly on a one-to-one basis is really difficult.”
  3. Skill sets. “Australia hasn’t got the right skill set internally, so our teams aren’t skilled up in the right skills – we’ve got to work on that.”
  4. Knowledge, skills and education.

“I don’t want to say education is just about training up marketers,” she added, “because it’s not that. It’s about boards of directors and CEOs really understanding the roles, all of the elements in delivering customer experience. Until you’ve got buy-in from the board and the CEO and until they understand it, the driving internally and getting investment is difficult.”

Sangster says because Australia is a much smaller market to the likes of the US and China, competing for the customer becomes so much more important – and there is a realization among Australian marketers that in order to compete they have to deliver to the customer, it’s not just about driving sale.

“I think in different degrees we’re delivering on it,” she said. “We’re all investing and we’re all trying.”

Giving a personal example of outstanding customer service, Sangster says the NRMA was “impeccable” when her car recently broke down, and rushed to her rescue – unlike her car company who tried to exploit the situation.

At the roadside she contacted her car giant, who informed her the roadside assistance cover she has been paying for four years expired two months ago.

“They told me, ‘We can’t do anything for you unless you pay $1,100’,” she said incredulously. “So I phoned the NRMA. Talk about standout customer service. They said, ‘Yup we can do it if you join on the spot now. Pay $100 and we’ll get you home’. They didn’t exploit the situation, they delivered, they followed up. I have to say, it was impeccable. There’s a good example of a company who is getting the brilliant basics right. I’m telling you and I’ll tell others about it, and that’s the best promotion they can get. It was one of those experiences where I went, ‘you know what, that’s everything we’re talking about’.”

Sangster is speaking at Daze of Disruption, taking place at Melbourne Town Hall on December 3-4, on the ‘Great CX: How to Elevate the Customer Experience’ panel alongside John Batistich, marketing director, Westfield and Jo Gaines, country manager, Krux Digital.