Customer experience is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, battleground for brands. This isn’t news. We know that the brands that win are those that give their customers the best experience no matter when or where a consumer interacts with them.
However, what this means for a brand in today’s market is radically different than it was even just a few years ago. Brands must manage exponentially more channels, more touchpoints, more competition and all this whilst moving at breakneck speed to serve higher expectations than ever before. And at the same time, customer experience feels more tangible, more visible and seemingly more likely to go wrong. Brands are racing to get it right and we have to find a way to help them
The World Economic Forum summarises it nicely, “The empowered consumer and disruptive technologies have sent companies scrambling to find new strategies and business models for creating consumer value. At the same time, businesses [have] to overhaul their operating models to drive innovation and increase their market agility.”
The brands that are winning are those that understand how every customer touchpoint connects, across channels, space and time. Brands must offer the best answer to a search, publish the best content, be the most relevant advertiser - each and every time. They must embrace new technologies to improve logistics, sales and marketing to be the best total solution for customers given a whole world of choices.
So how do we help our clients compete now and in the future?
Over the past year at Epiphany, we’ve been looking at what works (and sometimes doesn’t) for our clients; listening to our people; and looking at the agency scene. We’ve attended industry events all over the world; we’ve invested in and built our own technologies; we’ve created new, specialist teams drawing on the best people in the industry. But this alone isn’t enough.
We need to blend insight, technology, proposition, journey… and a little psychology. So we’ve transformed the agency in what is probably our biggest single change in our 12 year history.
We’ve been doing the things necessary to make it easier and more intuitive to be able to join the dots for our clients and their customers. The things that embed in our culture the ability to know, very literally, what consumers are looking for; to know what persuades them to choose one brand over another. To know how to provide the best answer, the best content, the most attractive journey, the most compelling proposition.
Before you start thinking this is a sales piece… it isn’t. Our journey has been tough and will continue to be so. It has meant an entire shift in not just the work we produce and how we’re servicing our clients, but also completely re-engineering the makeup of our agency.
We’ve overhauled the space we work in. We had to expand anyway, yes, but we’ve also gone back to the drawing board in how we use The Small Mill, creating custom made, collaborative spaces that encourage cross-team working at scale, and speed.
We’ve moved from a specialist first approach to one of a central pod model, with each comprising experts from across the business, as well as a dedicated team of cross channel senior strategists, working together to better understand a client’s challenge from a (sometimes overwhelmed) consumer’s perspective.
Yes, this has meant wholesale change. But it’s also been a team effort, forging the way forward together - and for a business this size it has, of course brought its own challenges. We’ve had to challenge old ways of working and thinking. But we know it’s right to create rounded digital marketers here rather than old school specialists.
This has meant we’ve had to relook at our culture, what we give back and how we invest in our team; our approach to training and recruitment; and even our company structure - moving from the legacy command and control to a networked model giving people greater opportunity to impact on the things that are important to them, regardless of time served.
We still have a long way to go, I know that, and that’s part of the reason for sharing these thoughts. Agency leadership is joyful but it can also be a challenging, head-messing job and it's often hard to hear about what other people in the industry are really doing (let alone discuss the ideas in an open forum).
I’ve always believed that openness is important and so over the next weeks and months I’ll be publishing more detail on what we’re doing and why in the hope that the ideas can be borrowed, added to and shared.