The automation of marketing and customer journeys has been standard practice in the Nordics for the last 5-7 years, but few companies have taken their automation level up to where it should be, in order to provide the promised ROI on the data and technology investments. In this blog, we present a step-by-step approach to automate, at scale.
(This is part of the Avaus blog & webinar series on marketing efficiency in the wake of the COVID-19 recession. See all related content here)
The promise of automation and especially AI in making work more effective and productive, has not yet delivered the promised results of efficiency in most organisations. The main cause of this has been a lack of pressure for efficiency during years of topline and budget growth. Now is the time to level up and automate at scale – improving not only ROI on sales and marketing resources and technologies, but also improving customer satisfaction and sales, in the wake of a more automated customer sales and service experience.
Step 1: Create a list of customer journeys
Identify a long list of moments in different customer journeys. Depending on the industry, you should have anything from 100-500 customer journeys or variations thereof. These journeys are found typically across 3-7 channels and 3-5 processes including sales, onboarding, growth, customer care, communications, customer service, reclamation/complaints, social media monitoring etc.
Step 2: Assess journeys on 3-5 criteria
For each journey identified, tag your list with the channel, data requirements, the effort required to automate, the current manual work needed and the possible upside potential in terms of improving customer experience or sales. This is apart from the cost efficiency from reduced manual work.
Template for assessing customer journeys
Step 3: Prioritise the list and assess efforts
Based on where most manual work can be saved currently and/or where the most value can be created for the customer experience/sales results, create a prioritised task list, as well as an effort estimate as a basis for agile work, for instance in “effort points”.
Step 4: Set up a focused task force for automating the “magic 100” and leverage DevOps methodology
Work in agile sprints. Only stop when the cost of the task-force (typically 4-6FTEs) exceeds the discounted value of the automated process. Organise for hundreds, not tens of processes being automated, and for putting automated processes into test and production within a four-week timeframe. The team that has automated the tasks should also, during the transition period, own the development and operations of the automated processes, and thus also the business results.
Step 5: Avoid the pitfalls – by measuring results
Why haven’t more organisations progressed further with automation?
1) Siloed sales and marketing organisations generate siloed data that is difficult to utilise
2) Lack of customer journey full ownership
3) Conflicting KPIs
Silos are difficult to change over a short period, but you can make sure that the difficulties are overcome by the fact that the measurement of actual results becomes a priority. If you are in a position where you want to dramatically improve results, make it a priority to set up metrics for following up on progress from the start. Appoint a steering group with members from the CFO organisation and report on development progress as well as efficiency results on a monthly basis.
Step 6 (optional): Sharpen your tools
Automation capabilities such as Machine Learning frameworks, documentation practices, data models that support activation into different channels make automation of customer processes easier. Without the basics right you will not be able to succeed – however don’t think that switching out your existing martech tools will improve the situation – that is only what could be called bikeshedding, but that is a topic of another blog post, another time.
Authors: Emma Storbacka, Anna Trygg