Customer experience is crucial, but your thinking about it shouldn’t be confined to your website.
Along with artificial intelligence and transformation, customer experience was one of the key themes that emerged from Dmexco this year. Increasingly, CX was talked about as part of a brand ecosystem that includes product, services, communications, and community. Here are five of the key ideas around customer experience that speakers discussed at the event.
It might seem obvious, but a great customer experience starts with instant access. Delays that might have been acceptable even a few years ago will now send your potential audience off to another site. This was something Jeff Lucas, VP and head of global sales at Snap, was at pains to point out.
“There’s been a major transformation over the past five to seven years,” he said. “Generation Y and Generation Z have changed the way content is consumed. It’s now all about availability. The average attention span in 2007 was 12 seconds, now it’s down to eight seconds.”
This, Lucas argued, is due to the rise of the smartphone, something Mark Thompson, president and CEO of The New York Times Company, agreed with. “People want their smartphones to work immediately,” Thompson said. “The biggest players offer superb experiences, so we all have to aspire to delivering a customer experience that’s seamless, and just works.”
Lucas also highlighted how Snapchat users’ expectations of the platform were always rising, putting constant pressure on the company to innovate. “Innovation is growth,” he said. “Our audience always wants more, and wants it instantly. We have to keep meeting the needs of the community.”
Lucas then stressed the importance of balancing responsiveness to audience needs with a longer-term vision. “Nothing is ever bolted onto Snapchat for no reason,” he said. “In our roadmap, all the pieces fit together, it’s all a long build.”
The secret, according to Lucas, is being a small and agile company, so that if it sees a need to be filled, there’s no bureaucracy holding development back.
The point about listening to your community was echoed by Deloitte Digital’s CMO Alicia Hatch. Talking about changing attitudes to failure, she contrasted the predigital way of doing things where failure had no place “because everything was designed to produce one piece of pristine content” with the situation now, where marketers have “the largest focus group ever at our fingertips.”
Co-creation is emerging as the point at which communities and innovation meet. There was lots of talk at this year’s Dmexco about brands becoming more sophisticated in their thinking about working with influencers, with the key ideas being creative influencers and micro-influencers.
Aline Santos, EVP global marketing at Unilever, said she thought influencers had a key role to play, particularly when brands were communicating with a media-savvy millennial audience. The change in thinking required by brands, she said, is not to look for control, but to develop partnerships. “You need to have total clarity of your brand position,” she said. “Then influencers can understand your brands and co-create them.”
She gave the example of Unilever’s Lipton brand, which had noticed growing interest among tea bloggers in matcha tea. The brand reached out to key influencers to confirm this interest could sustain a Lipton matcha product, and co-created the product with them.
Co-creation doesn’t just apply to new product development. Santos talked about how Unilever’s Knorr stock brand had reached out to micro-influencers for a campaign in Germany that resulted in Knorr having the most viewed products on YouTube in the country.
The importance of partnerships was also emphasised by Marc Mathieu, CMO of Samsung Electronics America, and Casey Neistat, the YouTube star the company had partnered with. What mattered in the relationship, Mathieu said, is not the extent of Neistat’s influence, but the fact that he represents the brand and its desire to disrupt.
Neistat agreed. “Samsung adheres to the golden rule,” he said. “Anything we do together has to benefit me as much as it does the brand.”
4. Authenticity And Humanity
Both Mathieu and Neistat emphasised the importance of brands being authentic. Mathieu argued that Samsung had to offer its customers authentic experiences “or they won’t work.”
Neistat went further. “I have two guiding principles,” he said. “Is the work good, and will it engage with the audience I know? All the brand stuff is a distant third.”
Mathieu also talked about the importance of marketers displaying their humanity in their work. “When marketers show up with all their skills but forgetting they’re people, that’s when they fail,” he said.
Deloitte Digital’s Hatch also discussed this idea. “We have to remember that our customers are human, and they respect humanity. We’re also more disconnected from each other than ever, so being authentic and honest about the value you’re creating for people is very powerful.”
Alison Lewis, global chief marketing officer, consumer companies, at Johnson & Johnson, talked about the growing move from mass marketing to personalised marketing, and went on to discuss how companies should think about this as part of a total branding experience for each person, at scale.
Her example of a brand ecosystem connecting both products and services was Johnson & Johnson’s Nod app to help babies sleep better, which launched this year. The ecosystem brings together J&J’s Bedtime range of baby care products, which is designed to help babies get to sleep; Rest Devices’ Mimo baby monitor; and a database of baby sleep patterns that feed into the app and deliver personalised sleep coaching for parents.
Much of this thinking about customer experience revolved round another trend, the move from acquisition to retention, which cropped up in a number of sessions. Zeta’s executive creative director Suzanne Darmory hammered the point home, saying: “It’s now all about retention and loyalty.” And Johnson & Johnson’s Lewis argued it was vital for companies to start from an inspiring brand purpose to generate brand love, but that loyalty was built through every element of the ecosystem and was what created ongoing purchase.