The digital shift is definitely on. But when it comes to the digital customer experience, retailers are playing catch-up.
The issue is critical as retailers either move online or put more effort behind their eCommerce capabilities. Before the pandemic, this process lacked urgency and was known as “digital transformation.” But a new survey shows a new urgency. Coming from AppDynamics, 95 percent of respondents said they have changed their digital technology priorities as a result of the pandemic. As many as 71 percent have sped up their digital processes, some of them implementing changes within weeks rather than the months or years. Fifty-nine percent said they have been “firefighting” with short-term fixes to technology problems. And 76 percent worry about how the sudden rush will impact longer-term digital transformation projects. Eighty percent said providing a positive digital customer experience (CX) was a “challenge” as a result of the pandemic.
The customer experience online has dozens of critical elements. User experience, seamless checkout, payment process, chat and security are just a few that need to be buttoned up. But even before those can be upgraded, some experts see a need for a retailer’s culture to dictate that experience.
“While CX seems simple, it’s hard to get right. It starts with culture,” Johan Ottosson, vice president of strategy at Sweden-based telecom Telia Carrier, writes in Capacity. “The humility to realize that your customers are more important than you. The curiosity to find out how to best build your organization, processes, and technology around their needs. The relentless drive towards simplicity and a sense of ownership for the customer experience is embodied across the entire organization. Because in the end, it’s all about people. Customers want real relationships with people who value them, understand their goals and pain points, are responsive, and communicate quickly and clearly. Customer empathy and communication are key parts of the hiring and onboarding evaluation process; customer experience wins are celebrated, and key CX metrics are used to individual performance measurements and are tied to compensation. This ensures the entire organization is consistently aligned to its core values and its culture is centered on the customer first.”
Customer-centricity is helped by artificial intelligence (AI) and it’s not as hard to implement as it was before the pandemic. For example, Adobe just this week unveiled Intelligent Services, built on Adobe Experience Platform, to support companies that may lack IT resources to enable AI. This includes federating unstructured data and a self-service interface for use cases specific to Customer Experience Management (CXM).
Computer gaming company NVIDIA used the Adobe service to measure marketing programs, with insights that drove five times more registrations to event campaigns. NVIDIA also used the predictive insights tool in the suite to understand how consumers were engaging its gaming products and it also used it to predict optimal send times for emails. This test drove a 14 percent lift in open rates.
Personalization is still the touchstone of the customer experience. Since the pandemic several experts and executives have called for recalculating the segments that lead to automated personalization platforms. One of them is Jonathan Loretto, global head of trustworthy computing, digital security and digital IT controls at HSBC.
Speaking recently at an Everbridge virtual summit in his personal capacity rather than as an HSBC executive, Loretto said that "we can’t just segment people or put them into good old marketing deciles — 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and I really want to have five,” as per diginomica. “People want different things. They want personalization. They want customization. They want things that make them feel special. And when we give them those things, they lap them up, they engage wholeheartedly and they drive forward. When we try and pull the wool over their eyes, not surprisingly they go on social media and they basically provide us with feedback — sometimes positives, other times not.”