Most websites fail to facilitate the customer journey – Interview with Mark Lancaster of SDL

Confused

Today’s interview is with Mark Lancaster, who is CEO of SDL, who provide technology and services to optimize the global customer experience for clients all over the world, including 42 of the top 50 global brands. Mark joins me today to talk about the challenges of delivering a global customer experience and what it takes to be successful at it.

This interview follows on from my recent interview: Customer engagement and the alignment of sales, marketing and customer service – Interview with Tim Pickard of NewVoiceMedia – and is number ninety-one in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, helping businesses innovate, become more social and deliver better service.

Please note that this interview was recorded in a public place so there is a bit of background noise. Not too much. But, I  just thought I should let you know.

Here are the highlights of my interview with Mark:

  • SDL stands for Software and Documents Localization. However, this is more of a historical name and is seldom used now.
  • SDL’s mission is to enable global businesses to engage with their customers – in the language, the media and at the moment they choose – via their customer experience platform.
  • SDL serves over 1,500 organizations, including 42 of the top 50 global brands.
  • Their clients rely on them to deliver locally relevant customer experiences throughout the customer journey – across channels, devices and languages, particularly, these days, via the internet.
  • Most company websites, even to this day, are appalling when it comes to facilitating the customer journey.
  • Is there one customer experience? Probably not.
  • There is a need and demand for business to be more proactive with recommendations of additional products and services, as long as it is not ‘in your face’.
  • Every single business needs to be able to target it’s customers with the right content at the right time in the right format.
  • Through their social customer listening product, SDL have created a Customer Commitment Dashboard, which allows their clients to map their customers use of language to better predict (predictive analytics), what sort of issue they are dealing with or referring to and whether it is a brand, support or buying issue.
  • People don’t think enough as thinking is hard, tiring and consumes energy.
  • The more complex the problem is, the more complex it is to make something plug and play.
  • However, if you do put in the effort to make something that is plug and play then the more likely it is that it will scale.
  • SDL’s research shows that asking your customers what they want and then giving them what they want rarely leads to business success. A more successful approach is to go and ask what their business problem is and what they want to achieve. Then, go and solve that. That is more likely to lead to business success.
  • Mark believes that a company’s website should be in a state of continuous evolution rather than subject to annual or bi-annual step changes.
  • When you change your whole website overnight then your ‘bounce rate’ goes up as people react to the change.
  • A website is not a marketing tool. It is a central communication hub and channel for the business.
  • One of the biggest challenges for all firms looking to improve their customer experience is to align their senior team so that they are all focused on delivering the same objectives and are aligned to their brand and customers rather than their own departments.
  • There is no point having marketing campaigns proclaiming your greatness if that’s not aligned with what you customers are saying.
  • When an executive team in a large organisation decides to do something and when it actually gets done can take up to two years.
  • Every single firm, in the next two years, will need to start using customer experience management software.

About Mark (taken from his SDL bio)

Mark Lancaster SDLMark Lancaster founded SDL in 1992 having identified the need for a service and technology provider to help companies internationalize and expand their businesses globally. The convergence of the social, mobile, Web world has created a new and complex consumer-driven economy in which Mark saw further opportunity for companies to differentiate themselves by delivering relevant customer experiences.

Through numerous acquisitions and significant R&D, Mark has turned SDL into the leading global business that helps companies to engage more effectively with their customers across the entire customer journey. SDL’s technology and services help brands to predict what their customers want and engage with them across multiple languages, cultures, channels and devices.

Mark studied electrical engineering and computer architectures at Hatfield University before becoming a software design engineer at Satchwell Control Systems and Lotus Development Corporation. He later became international development director at Ashton-Tate. He is now responsible for the strategic direction and development of the SDL Group.

You can check out SDL’s new Customer Experience Cloud here and while you are at it: say hello on Twitter @SDL and connect with them on LinkedIn here.

Photo Credit: miguelavg via Compfight cc

Comments

  1. Hello Adrian,
    I found myself resonating with this point:
    “DL’s research shows that asking your customers what they want and then giving them what they want rarely leads to business success. A more successful approach is to go and ask what their business problem is and what they want to achieve. Then, go and solve that. That is more likely to lead to business success.”

    So why is it that so few people/companies actually go/ask/observe the customer – his situation, his problem, and come up with a solution? Probably because:

    “People don’t think enough because it is hard ……”

    All the best
    maz

  2. Adrian,

    I love this point, as well: A more successful approach is to go and ask what their business problem is and what they want to achieve. Then, go and solve that. That is more likely to lead to business success.

    Before even reading Maz’s comment, I thought: this is really the key to designing and delivering a great customer experience… and, as a result, to business success.

    Annette :-)

  3. Bizarrely I picked up on exactly the same point as well Adrian.

    The message is clear…

    First up is best dressed. I need to read your blog posts that little bit earlier

    James

    • adrianswinscoe says:

      Annette, James,
      I am surprised and pleased that you both, as well as Maz, picked up on this point. It was one of a few stand out points for me in this interview.

      However, I always find it interesting to learn what stands out for people when I conduct these interviews.

      Thank you for the feedback.

      Adrian

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