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As customer experience becomes an even greater differentiator among brands, its importance has soared in recent years. Research by customer experience consultancy Walker predicts that by 2020, CX will overtake price and product as a company’s primary differentiator. It’s no wonder that building a customer-driven culture and “experiential mindset” is on the minds of today’s marketers and customer care professionals.
For Lionbridge CMO Jaime Punishill, customer experience takes on added meaning. Lionbridge is a provider of translation, global digital transcreation, marketing and services that enable clients to create, release, manage and maintain their technology applications and Web content globally. With 6,000 employees and more than 400,000 professional cloud workers, Lionbridge translates content into more than 213 languages so brands can expand their message into new global markets. The company’s clients comprise a large portion of the Fortune 100 list.
As the importance of connecting with customers in a more personal and experiential way increases, support from outside partners with deep expertise is critical. To enable clients to meet their customer experience goals, Lionbridge has organized its services into the following primary businesses: Global Language and Content (GLC), Machine Intelligence (MI), Global Engineering and Interpretation.
Lionbridge’s GLC solutions enable the translation, localization, and worldwide multilingual release of clients’ products, content and related technical support, training materials and sales and marketing information. Through its Global Engineering solutions, Lionbridge develops, re-engineers and optimizes global information technology applications, and performs testing to ensure that performance and user experience are consistent across markets. Additionally, Lionbridge provides interpretation services so companies can communicate directly with customers in any language over the phone and on digital channels.
Punishill, a 25-year veteran of strategic marketing and product management with a background in financial services, is responsible for leading Lionbridge’s global marketing efforts including brand, content, demand generation, digital and product marketing. His expertise in creating digital and mobile customer experiences provides the foundation for understanding the importance of consistency.
“Given the importance of the customer experience that is consistent and culturally relevant, organizations are beginning to understand and prioritize the experiential mindset as well as their approach to delivery,” Punishill told Loyalty360. “Delivering memorable experiences is difficult to do in one culture with one language, let alone doing it in 213 countries, in 213 languages with 213 different cultural adaptations. More companies are pivoting into that experiential role and seeing positive results. We’re proud to help them on that journey as a partner.”
In the Mad Men universe of 50 years ago, Punishill noted, the brand experience was very different. “Marketers told people how to feel about an issue or product. The brand promise was what you got if you engaged. In many ways, we’re seeing an inversion of that. The experience is the brand. In many cases, the experience precedes the messaging—it has become the brand definition, and the discussion of that is now your new brand voice. There is a challenge and an opportunity as to how companies design their brand messaging. That’s a massive shift.”
So, who owns the experience?
It depends on the industry and which part of the experience. “Historically, there’s been a big fight over that,” Punishill said. “In financial services, for example, much of CX fell on post sales to service and operation. No one really thought of customer experience as a strategic positioning exercise. The experiences designed in IT were more focused on function and less so as a strategic brand asset. Fast forward to now and the question emerges: Is customer experience the responsibility of marketing or a product team, a technical team? The reality is we are all responsible and must put customer experience at the center of everything we do. Apple doesn’t have a dedicated design function the way most firms are putting that in to try and get better at CX. It’s in their process. Design is a part of the outcome at Apple.”
The biggest struggle? Consistency. As marketers pursue greater excellence in their customer experience and customer loyalty initiatives, the level of sophistication is inconsistent.
“It’s such a new discipline with a strong parallel to the digitization of enterprises,” Punishill said. “It helps to have senior level support and leadership who understands and prioritizes digital, especially as it relates to customer experience. At Lionbridge, we see this in the way some of our customers view the localization and delivery of global experience. Some have a very sophisticated view of this as a revenue enhancer or experiential enhancer. Do they have an understanding of ROI or customer impact? We’re in the middle of a transformation right now.”
What’s clear is that brands need to stay true to themselves.
“You are who you are,” Punishill explained. “Many companies try to be something they’re not. We’re not all Steve Jobs and we’re not all Apple. You see companies lose ground when they venture into a place where they shouldn’t be. This is where brands themselves get away from who they are and actually what they do.”
Data often becomes an obsessive target for loyalty marketers, yet many face challenges of effectively distilling all of it.
“One of the things that lots of organizations discover with their data is that it isn’t very good,” Punishill said. “You have to have good data discipline and process and system before actionable insights. A foundation is necessary. It’s not unheard of to have many CRM systems, and digital and offline data aren’t measured the same way, much less linked. Is your NPS tracked at a brand level or a transaction level and do you connect them? There’s lots of data floating around, but often no strategy around how it’s collected or managed, and it’s not coordinated or managed very well.”
For Lionbridge’s customers, today’s multilingual universe adds to the challenge.
“Our biggest customers, in particular, are thinking about their brand experiences, thinking about globality and product launches quite differently,” Punishill added. “All of our tools and service models are stacked against changing customer behavior, particularly in the digital space.”
That evolving digital customer will, undoubtedly, drive the future of CX for many companies.
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