Anne Holland

Cingular, Avaya & Blue Cross Discuss Hurdles of Global Web & Brand Management

July 24th, 2006

“Like it or not, in this position you have to be a control freak,” Bob Steelhammer, VP Ecommerce Cingular Wireless, said in a panel on customer experience last month.

I’ve posted the notes from the panel (shared exclusively with Sherpa Readers) below. The other members were VPs from Avaya and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts.

Most of what they said was head-nodding stuff to anyone who’s run a brand, a Web site or a global marketing team. Yes, everyone is redesigning their site for increased customer satisfaction. (Is any major site not in redesign pretty much permanently?)

The good news is that they are all measuring it by asking customers what they think. So, redesigns are supposed to be customer-centric; which in many organizations can be a political hurdle. “We can’t let internal company factors influence the fact that it is really the customer who has final say over whether they leave our Web site,” said Avaya VP Renee Rodgers.

Also, everyone is working very hard to keep the branding — from logos to ease of use — the same across offline and online in every country and marketplace they serve. “From a customer acquisition standpoint, we’re getting A+ best in our industry. But in B-to-B, maybe a C+,” admitted Steelhammer.

How do you improve? “You have to be militant,” said Rodgers. To do this, Avaya has hired a Senior Editor-in-Chief for each global region who monitors everything online, including intranets, extranets, Web sites and microsites.

You also have to integrate your marketing departments internally. “One of my first stops when I arrived at Cingular was to visit the CMO,” said Steelhammer. “Previously, ecommerce was kept separate. We decided to change that.”

So, I guess you could say for world-class organizations marketing is turning into the mighty Mississippi. Editorial, Web design, branding, ads, PR … it all flows together.

Anyway, enough with the rhapsody. Here’s a link to that panel:

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