Monday, December 25, 2017

CMOs: In the race to provide more, don’t forget about the need for speed

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve witnessed CMOs get bullied into adding “just one more thing” the customer experience during a boardroom meeting. It’s tough to say no. Everyone wants to move the needle and deliver an exceptional quarter, but sometimes the answer needs to be no, or a compromise needs to be made.

For example, I consulted for a startup last year that was in the perfect position to disrupt their industry. As the finishing touches were being put on the platform, the CEO asks if it’s possible to add video chat to the inbound customer communication options.

I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to do while browsing the internet in my pajamas is start a video chat with some random customer service rep. But, the CEO was convinced that delivering customer service via video conference would be a differentiator.

The CMO should have said no, or at least offered to look into it and circle back on it at a later date. Adding “just one more thing” to a platform towards the end of development causes two problems. First, it distracts a focused team from the original project specs. And second, it increases the load on the underlying technology – usually resulting in decreased responsiveness.

Loading Times Dramatically Impact Abandonment

It’s a fact of life. The internet has given us the expectation that we can quickly and effortlessly find answers to questions, order products to be delivered to our front door and communicate with the people we care about.

If you add more and more to your platform in a way that sacrifices speed, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Almost half of your site’s visitors arrive with the expectation that the site will load in less than 2 seconds. If your site hangs past three seconds, 40% will leave and go elsewhere.

As the person in the c-suite with the responsibility of successfully delivering customers to your company’s online and physical presence, the last thing you need is to lose nearly half of your hard-earned leads to a slow site.

And if your site’s launch is hamstrung by last minute platform changes, where will you send the customers that you’re driving through your marketing channels?

Strategies for Effectively Saying “No!” to the C-Suite Pressure Cooker

Your best ally in the struggle to keep platform bloat at bay is your CTO. While you understand how speed and the customer experience impacts sales, they understand the value of efficient technical operations.

Legendary folk artist Pete Seeger once wrote: “Any darn fool can make something complex; it takes a genius to make something simple.”

Take that folksy advice to heart. Try to sell your CEO on simplified, streamlined operations behind the scenes. If they don’t buy into the need to reduce workload and potential complications, proceed through the following tactics:

  1. Explain, in detail, how the requested addition would add tremendous strain to your existing hardware and software configuration.

  2. Request for 24 hours to research the additional cost in both dollars and time that the new feature would require. Then present this information in a way that highlights how the costs outweigh the benefits. You could also play possum after you do the research. Sometimes moments of inspiration in the boardroom fail to survive into the following day. But make sure you have the information at your fingertips in case you get pinged.

  3. Commit to offering this additional feature in version 2.0 or 3.0. You could suggest a timeline, but I wouldn’t make a firm commitment. The goal at this stage is to find a solution that gives your executives what they want, without sacrificing the focus of your team and the loading time of the site.

It can be really challenging to communicate how something that sounds like a simple request can wreak havoc on an existing or soon-to-launch platform. Don’t be afraid to share your honest feedback, because if you just go along with something and it doesn’t work, you’ll own it.

Today’s CMO is tasked with many demands, made even more challenging with the ever-evolving digital domain. Download this report from Argyle Executive Forum to see how leading CMOs weigh in on other challenges, including how they can skillfully decipher, understand, and leverage the abundance of available data to engage with customers.


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