25 February 2017

The backbreaking work that goes into enhancing customer experience

A recent Adobe and Econsultancy survey of 14,000 marketers which included respondents from the Asia Pacific (APAC) region has found that marketers regard customer experience as the primary way for their organisations to differentiate themselves from competitors in 2017.

While businesses investing in the right technology is crucial, businesses are also recognising the importance of a customer-oriented, agile and collaborative company culture, Adobe said. Over one-fifth (22%) of client-side respondents ranked ‘optimising the customer experience’ as the single most exciting opportunity for the year ahead, slightly ahead of other areas such as ‘creating compelling content for digital experiences’ (16%) and ‘data-driven marketing’ (12%).

With the strong adoption and stickiness of mobile apps in APAC, marketers in the region have prioritised mobile app engagement above their peers in North America and Europe. In some APAC countries social apps are the preferred customer engagement channel – 31% of APAC marketers are more likely to view social media engagement as a top priority compared with 28% in North America and 27% of European respondents.

Adobe notes in the report that there are challenges to effective mobile app engagement:

· Without data, organisations will struggle to better understand their customers. The customer data trail – breadcrumbs left behind from interactions with every possible external touchpoint – is what allows organisations to learn and optimise the customer experience. That said, analytics is further down marketers’ lists of priorities for 2017, a conflict that needs to be addressed.

Separate research has indicated that marketers find manipulating and using outputs from customer data difficult. Even 59% of respondents who would consider their ability to understand the customer journey as 'advanced' or 'intermediate' stated that they had difficulty unifying different data sources.

· The second roadblock is culture. Driving digital transformation, which is intrinsically linked to creating a great customer experience, requires the orchestration of numerous parts. An organisation should be wholly aligned, both in terms of goals and ways of achieving those goals, across every department. 

A third (34%) of respondents believed that this would be difficult to achieve. That said, 13% of respondents actually mentioned that building a cross-team culture that keeps the customer at the heart of all initiatives was actually the easiest task of all. Companies that are smaller and nimbler and/or those born digital have the customer-centric approach embedded in their DNA, while more traditional organisations may struggle.

· The third roadblock is processes (or the lack thereof). Eight in 10 (82%) of organisations value creativity highly and about 75% are investing in design to differentiate their brand. However, about 40% also say they lack the processes to achieve a design advantage – in fact, 36% of respondents say well-designed user journeys that enable clear communication and a seamless transaction are difficult to master.

Understanding data enables a company to refine its customer segments, Adobe noted., and then to produce additional creative content in real time to engage these segments – a concept called 'content velocity'. Design-centric businesses with robust technology will outperform those that have not invested in relevant resources.

Marta DeBellis, VP of Marketing, APAC, Adobe said in a foreword in the report that the results show that the 'era of experience' is definitely here, but that there are key challenges for businesses making the change. "For example, the respondents overwhelmingly claim that customer experience is their most exciting opportunity. Many of them are investing in content and design, looking to create those experiences that will feel personal, compelling and memorable," she stated.

"At the same time, the report shows that investment in analytics is lagging. It seems that many businesses are so excited to get into the experience game that they overextend, neglecting to take care of the basics. But if you want to take design and content to deliver truly personalised experiences, you need a strong foundation of data."

Source: Adobe and Econsultancy report. Respondents were asked what would excite them the most in 2020.
Source: Adobe and Econsultancy report. Respondents were asked what would excite them the most in 2020. 

The report recommends that marketers focus on content and design data to boost the customer experience; foster customer-centric organisational culture; and consider mobile personalisation, artificial intelligence and virtual reality going forward.