Digital Customer Experience: Holistic way to engage new-age customers

Digital Customer Experience

This is age of customer. All organizations know that great customer experience attracts customers in turn builds brand, enhances loyalty and drives revenue. This is all the more important with online interactions (vs. physical stores). Customers have very little patience when pages don’t load fast, when they don’t find relevant content, when they find differing content across channels, when the interaction on desktop is different compared to customer service, when they are not able to search, when certain actions takes more than a few clicks to fulfill their goals, on and on — any of these is just enough reason for customer to jump to competitors.

Customers, especially on digital channels, are looking for seamless experiences. The challenge for companies today is how to deliver a consistent brand at every point where they touch their potential ‘omni-channel’ customers.

Stats tell stories and predict where the market is headed –

By 2018, more than 50% of organizations will redirect their investments to customer experience innovations. (Source: Gartner)

Emerging technology plays a big role in firms’ profitability and their customers’ digital experiences. Yet enterprises struggle with the speed of new technology delivery.(Source: Forrester)

82% view the customer experience as a competitive differentiator, and view accuracy and quality of information provided (82%), as well as ease of interaction (73%), as the most important attributes of a quality customer experience..(Source: Deloitte Survey)

Organizations’ top 3 innovation projects planned for 2015 involve customer experience, product & marketing technology. (Source: CMO Spend Survey 2015 by Laura McLellan, Gartner, October 2014)

All of these are telling on the importance of great digital customer experience. Customer demands are high and competition is fierce.

Functional Elements of Digital Experience

In general, Digital Customer Experience entails supporting following functionalities, all necessary to support customer journey lifecycle.

  • Content Management (including Digital Asset Management)
  • Video Management
  • Commerce
  • Personalization
  • Web Analytics
  • Segmentation
  • Visualization
  • Market Automation like email marketing, lead management, social marketing, lead nurturing/scoring
  • CRM integration
  • Social Media integration
  • Campaign Management
  • Advertising
  • Mobile App
  • A/B testing
  • Customer Data Management

Where do you start?

Step 1: Like any major initiatives, identify business objectives and goals, and overarching strategy.

Step 2: Define “Customer Journeys” – understanding customer goals, motivations, needs, wants, interactions across channels is very important. Content, Context, Personalization are important considerations.

Step 3: Then select a DiEx platform that not just meets the needs of present, but platform that can sustain innovative changes in next 3-5 years. Integration with external systems/applications is key factor too.

Step 4: Collect data across all customer touch-points and analyse. Don’t think of DiEx as one off project, rather it is a journeys which would need constant experimentation and tweaking.

Create a long-term Roadmap for your Digital Journey: Create a roadmap to build features onto platform. E.g. If you already have Content Management / eCommerce site, then consider building Personalization, RWD or mobile experience, and Customer Self-Service across user segments. Measure using analytics. Then, integrate other features as per business need.

Point is not to boil the ocean, rather gain short-term wins first, learn, and embark on next investment priority.

Digital Experience Platform Vendors 

DiEx is a software used to create and manage omni-channel customer experiences across all phases of customer life cycle.  These platforms are an outgrowth of traditional Content Management vendors, eCommerce vendors, enterprise vendors. Broadly, divided into 3 market segments –

  1. Content Management centric platforms: Adobe Marketing Cloud, SDL Customer Experience Cloud, Sitecore Experience Platform, Acquia
  2. eCommerce-centric platforms: Demandware Commerce Cloud, Hybris/SAP, Digital River Global Commerce, Magento
  3. Enterprise centric platforms: IBM Digital Experience Suite, Oracle CX Cloud, Salesforce Customer Success Platform, SAP Hana

The capabilities across these vendors vary. Many of above DiEx platforms serve and support all digital customer experiences across the customer journey.  The deployment model varies – on-premise, SaaS, PaaS or hosted.

Adobe is DiEx leader, per Forrester. If you want to dig deeper from Architecture perspective, read Forrester’s take on DiEx platform.

Conclusion

In this age of connected or always-on consumer, firms must optimize the use of digital tools and technologies to provide beautiful, seamless and meaningful (goal oriented) customer experience. It’s a new business imperative.

Firms must also treat the creation and execution of digital customer experiences as strategic, vs. delegating it to marketing department.

Lastly, investments in digital customer experience technology is a must to delivering exceptional experiences.

Get used to DiEx is happening now and here to stay !

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