How to achieve a consistent customer experience globally

Multinational brands should review the way they operate if they want to combine local market insights with overarching global campaigns, writes Mhairi McEwan, chief executive and co-founder of Brand Learning.

How to achieve a consistent customer experience globally
How to achieve a consistent customer experience globally

Global brands often look for great campaigns that are effective and consistent around the world, delivering scale and efficiencies, while still optimised for each country and local customer base.

This is easier said than done. Recent Forbes research found that 82% of senior marketers felt that "interconnected consumers have broken down the barriers between global and local marketing".

Technology means the challenges brands face are ever more pronounced and actions can resonate globally and instantly. Relying on outdated command and control models slows decision-making and risks missing what is trending in a particular market where campaigns need to be reviewed in real time.

Marketers need local market insight, but translating these from country to country in the interests of global efficiencies leads to inconsistencies and "disconnects" for customers.

Clearly, there are brilliant global campaigns based on a core insight, but recent Millward Brown analysis found that among campaigns that tested very highly in one country, only one in 10 did equally well in another country.

So how should brands navigate this constant dilemma?

Processes

Brands need to define a new operating model. They need integrated processes fluid enough to allow ideas that leverage best practice to come from anywhere. The skill is in the balance: crafting a global structure (providing resources such as data and CRM, for example) that facilitates sufficient local flexibility and prioritisation.

Organisation

There needs to be a clear blueprint for local markets to use: clarity on the support resources available centrally and who to go to for what; and clarity on where the accountability lies for local decisions.

People

Brands need to encourage career broadening in global and local executives so their talent base is equipped to handle the challenges and respects the contributions of both local and global roles.

Skills

There needs to be a capability framework with customer-centric skills at its heart and role clarity between marketing, channel marketing, shopper marketing and sales disciplines. Global teams need to "upskill" in brand strategy, positioning and identity; locally it’s about bringing the brand to life, understanding local nuances and integration of activities with global strategy.

Culture

All organisations must look at their culture and assess whether it is genuinely collaborative with mutual respect, aligned objectives and ongoing dialogue between global and business units.

Leadership is, of course, vital to ensure the organisation is set up with a clear strategy and vision for success. Management attention can then shift to implementation of activities to create competitive advantage – away from infighting between global and local teams.

This clears the way for global commonalities and local insight to define the biggest opportunities, shaping the customer experience through a defined brand identity, customer engagement strategy and innovation road map. This model will enable brands to create and sustain effective local engagement while securing global consistency for customers and commercial efficiency.

An effective organisation with the right capabilities in place will allow local customers to feel as if they "own" their brand, no matter how multinational it is behind the scenes.

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