Brand Engagement

MaritzCX Signals Potential for Scale in Engagement Field

maritzcx


Mergers and acquisitions can signal consolidation in a field, or they can signal expansion. The recent merger of Maritz Research with Salt Lake City-based Allegiance Inc., forming a new company called MaritzCX, potentially signifies the creation of the first fully-integrated organization theoretically capable of providing the nation’s largest companies with an enterprise-wide approach to Engagement. Time will tell if the market gets there, or if Maritz can make it happen, but this merger creates an entity probably better suited than any to align large-scale organizations across their audiences. Just as significantly, it could point to more such mergers and acquisitions as companies in various aspects of the engagement space seek ways to broaden and better integrate solutions for clients.

Combining the analytical research capabilities of Maritz Research with the real-time behavioral information coming from the front lines through Allegiance’s Voice of the Customer platform would be an interesting proposition on its own, but it is even more so when one considers the Maritz Motivation Solutions business that has decades of experiencing engaging all parts of the organization to deliver customer needs. How many agencies or consultants in the marketplace can not only deliver real-time customer behavioral data and insight of this depth directly into the hands of employees and other organizational partners in an actionable way while also providing additional engagement services that address all of the ways employees can use that data to achieve organizational goals?

FOCUS AND INTENT

Under the merger, MaritzCX will be an independent company based in the Salt Lake City area with 900 or so employees, including the Maritz Research employees in St. Louis. The new company will reportedly have revenues of about $200 million.

Was the opportunity to delivery this fully-integrated solution the immediate intent of this merger? Dennis Hummel, CEO of Maritz Holdings Inc., and Carine Clark, President and CEO of Allegiance and now president and CEO of MaritzCX, say they’re excited about that potential, but emphasize that the short-term focus is on helping MaritzCX scale the Voice of the Customer platform matched with the analytics of Maritz Research. The goal is to provide large organizations with unparalleled real-time and actionable information they and their employees can utilize today on the front lines. The opportunity for clients, they note, is to create a one-to-one environment in which each individual’s history and experiences are addressed at the point of contact to maximize relationships and engagement.

Says Hummel: “Our corporate customers are interested in actionable insights, and while Maritz Research can provide scientific data for how and why people are behaving the way they are, getting that information at the point of sale with the Voice of the Customer platform makes that information even more valuable. The ultimate goal is to help our clients make a difference with each and every customer experience.”

SUSTAINABLE AND UNIQUE

Why is the customer experience so important today? “Products and services,” Hummel explains, “can be replicated more easily than ever before. Companies need a sustainable unique differentiator, and we believe – as many do now – that the customer experience will be one of those differentiators.”

Clark adds that many businesses are at the early stages of grasping the competitive advantages of focusing on the customer experience. “More and more companies now understand they need to do a better job of customer differentiation and that the experience is a critical opportunity,” she says. “If businesses do a better job of engaging customers across the entire delivery chain, they’ll improve retention rates, have happier customers who help promote their products, and they’ll know more about what makes customers even more willing to engage. The companies that are figuring this out are doing a much better job than ever before. Our job is to help organizations have a personal relationship with each customer without needing to have an army of people to do that.”

Clark also believes that an increased focus on the customer experience will require the ability to scale, and that Allegiance will be better able to grow with the resources of Maritz behind it. “Business is really at the early stages of this,” she notes. “When I was on the client side in my previous positions, we had to build this from the ground up. The biggest problem was there was no system to automate this. There are mountains of data. Some companies have millions of unique customers working with multiple divisions or using multiple products…There are so many times when employees simply don’t have the information at their fingertips that can help them address a specific need or opportunity. Almost every employee wants to help that customer, but they can only work with the information they have.”

DRIVEN BY MARKETING

Clark believes that while employees are a critical part of the equation, this entire process will be generally driven by marketing, as executives recognize the financial benefits of maximizing each customer experience. These efforts at the one-to-one level, she says, are potentially more measurable than traditional mass-marketing.

Hummel notes that MaritzCX, combined with its Maritz Motivation business, offers the world’s largest companies a formidable, arguably unparalleled combination of resources to scale customer experience across huge organizations worldwide. He doesn’t mind the analogy of doing for enterprise-wide engagement what big agencies did for advertising.

“It’s going to take time,” he says. “This trend toward enterprise-wide engagement is in its early phases – it’s still in a sorting out phase. The trouble is that it’s all about people, and it’s not easy to put your arms around specifically what strategies or tactics will affect sales. At some companies, a small adjustment can make a big difference. That’s why they’re trying new things.”

The challenge with connecting all the dots of engagement across the organization, he continues, is that there are so many people who have a role, and all of these people have to say yes. “For now, MaritzCX is focusing on the customer experience phase from the point of view of technology and research sciences, and will evolve with our customers into the related loyalty and employee engagement issues. We’re in a unique position to tell that story.”

A SHIFT IN DOLLARS

Hummel believes there will be a shift of investment dollars toward customer engagement. “I think that mass marketing that tries to put people into a category has waned in its attractiveness,” he says. “With the customer in the driver’s seat, it’s imperative to have a one-to-one relationship, to create and craft products with the customer.” He adds that it’s a big marketplace, noting: “If you’re talking about the size of the customer engagement marketplace and include market research, CRM, customer experience, social media strategies, contact centers, mystery shoppers, loyalty, etc., all of that rolls up to well over $100 billion annually. If we can help organizations make sense of critical information to make their customer engagement strategies even more effective and measurable, there’s a large marketplace for MaritzCX.”

It could take up to five years, says Hummel, for this new enterprise approach to engagement to fully take hold in a way that will benefit all of the Maritz divisions. Clark thinks the new focus on connecting customers with employees may happen faster. “The good news,” she says, “is that it doesn’t matter when it happens, because we have some companies that are ready for the strategic move, and we have others that need to focus on a specific problem. We can move at whatever speed our customers are ready for. Companies will have to find ways to be efficient. Either way, companies are going to have to find ways to make it easier for people to do what’s right to make the most of customer relationships.”

 


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