Monday, September 26, 2016

Office:Office – Going digital

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That’s the latest keyword in the Indian marketing circles. It’s almost touted as a panacea to all problems that currently exist in getting customers to be loyal. Listed below are the top 5 reasons why companies feel they should adopt digital.

1. All it needs is a website and a twitter account – Isn’t that what Amazon started with when they came to India?, asked one CXO with more ‘experience’ than hair on Jeff Bezos’ head. ‘Look at them now’, he said. Well. Yes. They have a bigger website and more followers on twitter? Erm. They have multiple twitter handles if one has to be accurate. But then, what?

2.  If Amazon can do it, so can we – Do what precisely? Sell online, when even face to face meetings with customers doesn’t get them to buy our service/ product? ‘If Amazon is a dukaan, we are no less. Agarwal nahi hai to kya hua, hum bhi bania hai!”, said one South Indian CXO who had lived most of his life in Delhi. Ok, so we will display our products online and put out brochures? Then what? “we will wait for customers to buy, what else?” said the new recruit, who has no clue of any of our services. While, this was being discussed, word got around to the finance team that orders would be accepted only via online purchase route, resulting in a cry of objection. New payment method means, new procedures, new training and firing of the Babu who had spent 20 years just collecting cheques from customer offices.

3. We can fire our salesforce and court customers in their inbox – “Says who?”, popped up the Sales Head. “Please note your databases don’t have any customer contacts. We knew a day would come when you would think of making us redundant. And do you know how many of our customers even use email?” Oh! Then you can send the mails out to these customers yourself, pleads the CXO. “And diminish our position from sales to data entry,” challenges the sales Head. This is when the marketing head pops up saying , ”the sales team can keep its customers to itself, considering how rarely they buy our products/ services. We will get you new customers. Savvy. Sophisticated and with loose purse strings. Inbox kya, we will flood their postbox too and stalk them on SMS, and mobile App.”

4. It relies on Analytics, not hearsay – Oh! Says the sales head puzzled. But then quickly recovering asks, “what will it tell you? How much revenue we got? Those numbers are managed by my team and you are all getting regular updates.” No, laughs the marketing team. Details like who is targeted, how many pieces of communication goes out to him/her, what is the response, what more can be done, etc can all be tracked if we go digital, says the newbie who is fresh out of B-School and sharing this gyaan.

5. It will listen, not question – Clearly a jab at the sales team, the CXO makes it a point to bring up the last disagreement between teams. “No such nuisance with digital. You feed information, the system does its job quietly. No opposition.” “But”, says the sales head. Before he can continue, he is cut short by the CXO, “See you started again! Is Amazon hearing so many ifs and buts? No! that is why they are selling so much.”

6 months after going digital, this is the conversation in the board room.

Sales Head – Are you folks happy now? You’ve cut my team size by half and made the other half send emails to unknown people who never bought anything.

Marketing Head – Yes, and they are passing comments on Twitter. I don’t know how to respond. You guys shouldn’t have the sent the mails. Even your email IDs are boring. Why would I want to buy from Magan Lal? Couldn’t you at least change the ID to Meghan L?

Finance Head – How long will this continue? We spent a lot on training and Mr. Babu was forced into retirement early. That has not gone down well with the Founder. He feels we have thrown money and projected that we are lavish and are now attracting criticism. We run the risk of The Bania Unlimited Bank cutting our credit.

Sales Head – Arrey, how can I answer that question? I didn’t want to go digital. These folks (pointing to everyone else in the team) were keen.

Marketing head – We were short changed by the IT folks who said they would give us good candidates for analytics. They gave us interns who knew how to use Microsoft Excel. These chaps gave us a whole bunch of permutations and combinations without really telling us anything concrete.

(The IT team is not present to defend themselves)

CXO – What does Amazon do once they have the website and twitter account?

For a more serious piece on whether digital marketing is customer centric, read this.