When I first got into business, the term “front office” meant the executive or administrative office of a company. I was a sales rep, and I wanted to get past that front-office receptionist so I could talk to that front-office executive.
But language evolves, just like everything else in business. In most market sectors “front office” now signifies the various departments that interact with your customers. In general, it’s the coalition of sales + marketing + service/success (inside Act-On, we like to call it the Team Trifecta).
This new front office plays an important new role. Today’s buyers (of just about anything) are proactive, autonomous, and self-educating, and they may do deep research on your brand and your products long before you’re aware of them. Marketers who use technology skillfully can gather data at these early, almost invisible, touch points, and build individual profiles of buyers. When this data is shared across the aligned components of the new front office, everyone in every department can deliver coordinated, personalized service to those buyers. The buyer perceives this as a seamless engagement – and it’s a powerful incentive for them to remain your customer.
This new front office is using a collection of integrated technologies to keep up with our evolving, self-determining buyer. We think this is a good thing, but marketing technology is our business so of course we see it that way. To get a more objective perspective, Paige Musto (our communications director) decided to take this question to the street and ask industry experts, analysts, bloggers, and influencers to weigh in with their respective points of view.
So here is the question:
How do you see the front office evolving over the next two years?
And here are the answers: