We recently published a report  focusing on one of the Sift Media communities, MyCustomer which reveals the findings of discussions with thousands of customer-facing professionals from medium to large-scale enterprises.

We got under the skin of what is keeping marketers, sales and customer-focused professionals up at night. Whilst the results varied, a number of key challenges came to the fore, many of which were symbiotic of each other.  

You can of course read the report to get the full insight from these conversations, but for now let’s look at just a few of the challenges we uncovered.

The trouble with technology

The reach and quality of engagement created by the internet and the explosion in mobile device use would have been unimaginable only a couple of decades ago. It is also fair to say that technology has improved efficiencies in a huge number of areas, often reducing costs. However, the digital world has knocked down the barriers to market in many industry sectors, increasing the number of competitors. The MyCustomer community told us technology has created a far greater level of expectation from their customers. One of the problems, as the study reveals, is that it is easier than ever for customers to take their business elsewhere – they are quite simply not as loyal as they once were.

Budgets are being stretched

The vast amount of technology available to support businesses may also be contributing to the lack of budget, or rather a need to make budgets go further. Research may indicate that marketing budgets are growing year-on-year, but it seems this may not be at a sufficient rate to keep up. Compounding this issue is the fact that some marketers and other revenue-focused functions such as sales and customer service are increasingly taking charge of technology purchases – creating a problem in businesses where budgets are not being re-distributed appropriately.

Leads are harder to generate

The discussions with MyCustomer community members found that there are major challenges around generating sales leads at a time when customer buying habits are changing so significantly. In addition to ensuring campaigns are fully optimised for mobile use and that technology is in place to capture all data as effectively as possible, the report also highlights the importance of focusing on content relevancy, messaging, call to action, targeting, point in the buying cycle, and lead nurturing to enhance the sales success.

The devil’s in the data

You can’t talk to marketing professionals without data coming up as an area of concern. For the MyCustomer audience this spanned across data management and the ability to leverage it effectively for personalisation, for cross-selling and for a seamless customer experience. There is also the added task of complying with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other, global data regulations. Marketers cannot tackle their data challenges on their own. Support from across the entire business is needed in order for data to be managed and utilised to its full capacity.

Time to turn challenges into opportunities

These are just some of the key challenges standing in the way of brands trying to become more customer-centric. You’ll find lots more in the full report.

And if there's one thing you can take away from this post, it's don’t underestimate the value of talking to your customers and asking them about their challenges. The insight gathered can create opportunities to inform your campaign messaging, dramatically improving the way it resonates with your audience. 

We have also published a blog focusing on the retail industry and some of the challenges they specifically face from this report.