Great customer experience is a competitive advantage, according to Marc Eaman, Adobe’s director, Experience Cloud, technical marketing and evangelism, whose keynote address kicked off the Adobe Symposium in New York City on Wednesday. More than 300 brands were in attendance.
Those experiences “start with great content,” he said, reminding attendees that “people buy experiences, not products.”
Eaman pointed to a study by Adobe, in partnership with Forrester, which found experience-led businesses have 1.6x higher brand awareness, 1.5x higher employee satisfaction, 1.9x higher average order value, 1.7x higher customer retention, 1.9x return on spend, and 1.6x higher customer satisfaction rates.
However, to meet customer expectations, companies must first know and understand them, said Kerry Bodine, a customer experience expert and author. Bodine defined CX as a customer’s “thoughts, emotions, and perceptions about their interactions with an organization.”
“Know their expectations,” she told attendees. And then focus on “speed, personalization, and relevancy.”
She talked about United Airlines, which recently sent her an email congratulating her for 22 years of loyalty to the airline. Bodine reflected on how that experience made her feel: “It was like they remembered.”
She also pointed to other experiences that didn’t stack up. For example, one hotel in London sent her a promotion after her trip was over. Also, a wireless carrier recently sent her a message about watching a major sporting event that she doesn’t even know the rules for.
These “squandered opportunities” made her feel alienated, Bodine said. They were also “a waste of money,” she added. Bodine expects that as machine learning and artificial intelligence become more widespread, experiences will become more contextually relevant.
Enterprises know it, which is why they are starting to make serious investments in artificial intelligence. Bodine pointed to a recent study by Constellation Research, which found that 60% of organizations expect to increase investment in AI by more than 50% in 2018 over last year.
Going back to “knowing customer expectations,” Bodine said that the framework of the customer journey is very important. Customer journey mapping, she said, is a team effort and should include marketers, IT, legal, finance, and more. From there, “bring customers in to share with you and to validate your hypothesis,” Bodine said.
Case in point: Roberto Gennaro, CMO of RedTag.ca, came on stage to talk about his company’s digital transformation journey, which began with understanding customer expectations. He was interviewed by Erica Fensom, director of Global Enterprise Marketing Campaign at Adobe.
Finding and implementing the right technology was imperative to his company’s transformation journey, Gennaro said, because it had a lot of unstructured data that needed to be “stitched” together.
“We went from knowing nothing about our customers to today acting in almost everything in real time,” he said. “Knowing when a user visits one of our sites and then visits our other travel site, and being able to deliver a targeted and experience-driven result has made for a better user experience overall.”
Gennaro said that while his company has made a lot of strides over the years, its digital transformation is far from over. The company is bullish on voice as a major disruptor in computing. Additionally, Gennaro is excited about the personalization possibilities enabled by AI.
Another company that has been on a digital transformation journey, for just about two years now, is 24 Hour Fitness. CMO Thomas Lapcevic told Symposium attendees that the first thing the fitness giant did was look at its value proposition and realized that it needed to change from “functional” to “emotional.”
“We realized quickly that personalizing the fitness experience would be crucial,” Lapcevic said, pointing to the fact that every person’s fitness journey is different. Building a unified customer profile was absolutely crucial. Step two was content. Metatagging the content so it could correlate to the customer journey was a big win for the company, he added.
Today, 24 Hour Fitness uses data and machine learning to anticipate customer needs. The company also has employed process automation to streamline complex tasks, and it now offers customers easy-to-use digital tools to track daily workouts, nutrition, and the like.
According to Lapcevic, having this unified customer profile enables omnichannel communications. “[We are] leveraging multiple channels to naturally engage customers when and where it is convenient for them, including mobile, apps, websites, in-club digital touch points, email, push notifications, and SMS.”