We sat down with Mark Langsfeld, CEO of mTab, to discuss the recommended COVID recovery plan framework released by McKinsey & Company titled The COVID-19 recovery plan will be digital: A plan for the first 90 days. As the report states, “we have vaulted five years forward in consumer and business digital adoption in a matter of around eight weeks.” We wanted to get Mark’s perspective on this apparent customer evolution given his extensive experience in data insight and customer intelligence in the social listening, voice analytics and now market research realms.
Taking the First Step
Q: Mark, with isolation guidelines starting to loosen up and companies looking to build recovery strategies, what is the first step that a brand should take in this effort?
Langsfeld: “Most consumers worldwide have been dealing with isolation over the past few months, which has shifted how they interact with brands, including the engagement channel, volume and frequency. We’re seeing enterprises recognizing the need to step back and holistically understand these changed customer behaviors and attitudes before designing an execution strategy.
“Achieving customer understanding entails integrating multiple internal and external datasets to gain insight into the relationships between their customers, products, brands and the impact of COVID-19. So, leveraging a customer experience insights platform that facilitates the ingestion of these datasets from many sources in order to synthesize into a single data environment is the first step. If you don’t understand the customer, it’s difficult to anticipate and predict how they will behave. And if you can’t anticipate their actions, you can’t motivate them effectively.”
“If you don’t understand the customer, it’s difficult to anticipate and predict how they will behave. And if you can’t anticipate their actions, you can’t motivate them effectively.”Mark Langsfeld
Developing the Plan
Q: McKinsey, lays out a four step plan for enterprises to follow in their COVID recovery plan; first, ‘change customer expectations,’ second, ‘use new data to improve operations,’ third ‘selectively modernize technology’ and finally, ‘increase organizational drumbeat.’ Is this what you are seeing with mTab customers?
Langsfeld: “These steps are largely aligned with the strategies we are undertaking with brands, however the order does differ somewhat. At first, the focus is on integrating current and new data sources to understand the evolution between the customer and the brand. This guides the strategy and planning around investing in new technology. For instance, a company may need to develop a new app or enhance its online customer support if customer engagements have shifted to digital.
“Then democratizing this data and customer insight is the next step so the entire organization marches to the same drumbeat. Teams need to be able to use the same experience datasets to make decisions and set strategies. Lastly, with customer understanding in place, technology enhancements underway, and an informed employee base, the focus turns to adjusting the business to meet customer expectations, since enterprises can now deliver in terms of their innovation, communication and support.”
Q: Overall, how do you see this ‘vaulting’ effect that COVID has had on digital adoption for businesses?
Langsfeld: “I think there is a big opportunity for businesses to innovate operations and evolve with the customer to deliver exceptional experiences. Getting a complete picture of the ‘Age of COVID’ and the impact it has had on customers should be the focus of every brand before adopting innovations and evolving engagements. This will not only make the business stronger, it will help it avoid loss of time, money and customers with ill-advised decisions and poor investments.
“The businesses that focus on data-driven insight, then tackle organizational and operational innovation are the ones well-positioned to gain a competitive advantage and succeed with customers.”
Mark Langsfeld’s experience spans growth and exits for SaaS software, data, analytics, Internet publishing, mobile and e-commerce enterprises. He has extensive expertise across omni-channel customer analytics, CX, and applied AI for an array of industries including automotive, life sciences, financial services, media and CPG. Currently he serves as CEO of mTab, the market intelligence pioneer for the past 35 years, delivering democratized data-driven understanding to leading Fortune 500 brands. He was also previously named “Innovator of the Year” by SmartCEO.