In the conversation, Preschern laid out various collaborative strategies designed to stimulate innovation and enliven an enduring brand presence. He said
“Employees are your biggest brand advocates”
HCL Technologies is a multinational IT services company that specializes in Offshore IT & Software Development Outsourcing. Founded in 1976, the enterprise currently boasts a revenue to the tune of 6.975 billion USD. According to recent reports, their employee team stands at 115,973 worldwide.
HCL’s international workforce and product poses unique challenges, particularly for a CMO concerned with fostering collaboration, inclusivity, employee satisfaction, and a coherent customer experience at every touch-point. Although he admits there is no “silver bullet” Preschern believes the prevailing marketing framework is dangerously flawed.
According to Preschern, there is a view that you need to completely differentiate the digital touch points from the traditional, physical ones.
“I don’t subscribe to that. I think you live in a world where every touch point matters, and you need to create choices for your target audience so wherever they choose to engage, they have a consistent experience”
Surely it cannot be the sole responsibility of the marketing department to control customer experience across every touch point. That’s an unrealistic goal. Marketing provides resources, but ultimately, a consistent and fruitful customer experience results from symbiosis between HR and marketing—with an eye toward the CEO, the CFO, and the CIO. In short, customer experience must be a company-wide priority.
Customer experience is the priority, while relationship building is the goal. And what is the basis of any successful relationship? Trust.
“At the end of the day, people like to do business with people who they know and trust. We live in a digital world that also has traditional physical interactions and you need to do both”
Preschern is emphatic about not allowing digital interactions to become your only touchpoint, be it with your employees or your customers.
“A lot of people can hide behind them just because they can, because these devices allow them to do that”
Face-to-face interactions are the basis of networking. So much so that Preschern even questions how social “social media” really is.
“Data has helped marketing progress to another level. But if you are uncreative and your content is not different, then it won’t emotionally connect and so won’t create a response on the softer side of the equation, where the metrics won’t tell you if you are making a difference”
To the extent that digital communication is not as social as actual social interaction, the data and data analytics do not necessarily tell you what’s working about a campaign, or what’s resonating with your audience. There is an art to marketing, an intuition about what captures a person’s imagination and inspires them to include your product and service in their business or life. The data alone won’t tell you why your relationship is improving, or inversely, failing.
The gap between data, and making a difference, is a motivating idea of Preschern’s marketing and cultural philosophy. As a way to bridge that gap, he champions HCL’s co-innovation centers or labs across the world. The mission of these centers is to generate meaningful insights by bringing customers and employees together to brainstorm with design thinking tools. Identify a problem together, devise a solution together.
“When employees work with customers to bring foward great ideas, there is money to be made.”
The co-innovation centers are supported with digital platforms that allow employees across the world to collaborate on problems together. There are even dedicated days called “Mad Jams” when employees tackle problems posed by fellow employees and customers.
The ultimate goal is to monetize collaborative outputs and improve brand presence via shared social experiences.
The core feature of HCL’s work ethic is introspection.
“We challenge ourselves and we challenge the status quo”
Preschern constantly asks himself how they can change to best serve the customer. The first step is to think of employees not as cogs but as strategic enablers capable of generating far more value and insights through social interaction.
That’s Matt Preschern’s vision. And as Preschern says
“As a CMO, if you don’t have a vision of where you want your brand to go, if you don’t help your business articulate the value proposition, then you aren’t doing your job”