Smart executives use an integrated approach to data use and content creation to ensure high-quality customer experiences.
That was the conclusion of a recent event in London, where digital researchers and practitioners discussed findings from the recently released Digital Trends 2018 report.
The survey from Econsultancy, which polled 13,000 marketing, creative and technology professionals on behalf of technology firm Adobe, found almost half (45%) of organisations rank customer experience as one of their three top priorities.
The research also discovered great customer experiences is not just the responsibility of marketing teams. Organizations implementing a cross-functional approach to customer-led initiatives are almost twice as likely to exceed their business goals.
Here, three experts give their best practice tips for great experiences in a digital age.
Make content the lifeblood of an organization
Sean Donnelly, senior analyst at researcher Econsultancy, said that while customer experience is a strategic priority, there is an “almost maniacal” focus on data collection. He warned executives to be mindful of the fact that customers will not buy from your company because it holds great data or runs smart analytics. Customers purchase because of emotions and relationships, said Donnelly:
Make sure you use data to enable customer centricity – understand who they are. That requires new skills in terms of marrying data analysis with human-centric skills, such as creativity, design and emotional intelligence. That changes the intent of marketing from driving purchases to cultivating relationships. If you want to have relationships with customers, you must understand context and timing from data. And that’s where content comes in.
Donnelly referred to an ongoing evolution in marketing trends, from mass-marketing to product-centric and onto today’s human centric approaches. He said smart firms have recognised they can use data and content to interact with people at a far more granular level through a range of different and often personalised channels:
Enlightened companies are using the mantra of customer experience to structure their capability, invest in technology and deploy their resources. The top-preforming companies are twice as likely as their peers to identify as digital-first organizations. If you want to be successful, there shouldn’t be a distinction between digital marketing and traditional marketing.
Donnelly warned that the number of digital touch points increases 20% year-on-year. He said content must be personalised and it must help people makes decisions across these channels. In fact, Donnelly referred to content as the “lifeblood” of any modern marketing organization:
Your brand isn’t necessarily what your company say it is – it’s increasingly defined by social and open community review platforms. We need to acknowledge the people aren’t afraid to publicly damn you if their experiences aren’t great. Opinions and scores are being curated and aggregated. If a customer sees poor reviews, on a platform like Trust Pilot, they won’t be encouraged. More than 90%t of customers trust these review scores more than traditional advertising.
Create an integrated approach to business insight
James Birchall became manager in data analytics at Santander three years ago and has used his experience to push the benefits of insight across the rest of the organization. With the rise in the number of channels to market, Birchall recognised finance firms could do more with the data they held:
Banks are traditionally volume businesses and employees are used to working with touch points, such as branches and call centres, that don’t include a lot of breadth. Now, with digital analytics, we can pinpoint where experience at certain touch points is failing. We can then add in other sources of information that you hold as a business and change customer experiences in a positive way.
Birchall demonstrated to his business how an investment in data analytics could help executives to identify which projects were likely to boost customer experience. Birchall then helped the rest of the organization to create insight autonomously through the Adobe Analytics platform:
We’ve had to enable the business to self-serve, so that means training the rest of the organisation to understand digital analytics and use Adobe’s services. It’s not enough to have the data – you must know how to use it to improve customer experiences. So, our team offers consultancy to help the rest of the business develop its approach, particularly in relation to advanced data science.
There are now 100 active users of Adobe Analytics across the business every month, while more than 300 staff have been trained in total. Birchall and his team actively monitor how data analytics is used. He said the result is an integrated approach, where data informs business decisions:
We can see our customers’ experiences and we can see the pain points, which means we can facilitate better conversations. The intelligence we have is much more accessible. The days when you produced static reports, and expected people to drill into things, are long gone. Now, we’ve got this data, we’ve got to find more ways to make connections around the business.
Take a pioneering approach
Phil Lewis, director of digital experience at Boden, who joined the business in May 2016, spent a large proportion of 2017 focused on identifying the people, process and technology elements that would help transform the organisation. The firm has recently moved to new offices and has embraced agile modes of working across the organization:
The challenge was to think about how we could make our brand different from other businesses – we wanted to help customers make their purchasing decisions. When you step into a new brand, it’s quite a brave journey. There aren’t many times when customers open themselves up to new brands.
Lewis said the firm has introduced a content management system, in the form of Adobe Experience Manager, to help push creativity into hands of line-of-business workers. As a result, Boden has identified how to boost customer engagement and brand perception in an iterative manner – and Lewis encouraged other executives to be similarly pioneering:
Go back to basics. If you’re not comfortable with your site, and you don’t think your brand shines, you won’t keep customers happy by just adding a nice piece of content. Many sites aren’t designed to handle content and your run the risk of just bolting stuff on. Define what success looks like from a business, project and customer perspective, and identify how you’re going to be different as a brand.
Businesses might be drowning in data, but the most effective organizations are sifting information sources to create new insights. By using data analytics to push content to customers, companies in all sectors can develop strong relationships with customers.