Marketers are no longer in the business of selling products. “We are selling experiences,” said Brad Rencher, EVP and GM of digital marketing at Adobe, speaking to 10,000-plus attendees at Adobe Summit 2016. “This is the new reality.”
The problem is, meeting people’s expectations for experiences is becoming more and more difficult. The proliferation of devices, such as mobile phones, and now the Internet of Things, make it hard to provide continuous, consistent, and compelling experiences, Rencher said. And it will only get harder.
“Let me explain what that means,” Rencher said. “For March Madness, I was consuming that content, and I did not want to miss a second. I want to be able to start off watching on my phone, but when I get into the car, I want the car to have that context and update me on what’s happening in the game. Then, when I get home, I want my TV to pick up that stream where I left off. That’s continuous and consistent, and, of course, it’s compelling.”
To meet such expectations, enterprises will need to transform in ways they haven’t in decades, Rencher said. The first wave of transformation, back in the 1960s, was “the back-office wave,” when digital first became a reality and companies realized they could connect their back offices to technology and manage production better, he said. Companies that were first-movers had a huge lead over the competition, and today ERP solutions are part of enterprises’ infrastructure all over the world, he said.
The second wave of enterprise disruption was the “front-office wave,” or the CRM revolution. CRM systems, which help manage the sales process more efficiently, now are ubiquitous and table stakes, Rencher said.
Now we are fully emerged in a third, very different wave.
“This new wave is not about us--it is not about what we sell,” Rencher said. “It is about the consumer and the experiences we provide them. It is about goosebumps, smiles, and bringing people close together. We need to focus on closing the gaps between people and the things they want to do. And we need to close the gap and then get out of the way. We are stewards of the experience. This third wave is the experience business wave, and it is about surprising and delighting customers.”
According to Rencher, the customer experience business will be measured in four ways. First, companies need to know and respect their existing and potential customers. Second, the experience business will speak to consumers in one voice. “The marketing, sales, and support all sound the same,” Rencher said. Third, the experience business will make the technology transparent, because it knows the medium is not the message. The last measure is delighting customers at every turn.
McDonald’s CMO Deborah Wahl joined Rencher on stage for a quick chat about her company’s transformation to an experience-led business. McDonald’s made a financial commitment to customer experience about 18 months ago, she said. At that point, the company didn’t have many digital, one-to-one engagements with customer. This was when a mass discussion around personalization began. Fast forward to today, and McDonald’s is doing a lot of listening on social media, where the brand is mentioned every second-and-a-half, Wahl said. McDonald’s currently responds to about 10% of those mentions, with hopes to grow that number.
McDonald’s also has a mobile app, which has been downloaded 10 million times, and kiosks in its restaurants to give people alternative ways of placing their orders.
“We are moving to be in line with customer expectations,” Wahl said. “And we are doing that by simply following what the customer is saying. Listening taught us that people want offers. So we gave them offers. There are a lot of shiny toys in digital. But the most important thing [is to address] the biggest customer needs first. And we are going to do the other stuff, too, but we are doing it at the right time. There is so much incremental power in the little things. The bigger gains are from the day-to-day optimizations.”