This article was written by by Suresh Vittal, Vice President, Platform & Products, Adobe Experience Cloud and published on CMO.com
Consumers want more than just products and services. They want experiences. That’s why so many organizations, regardless of industry, are reorganizing and strategizing around the customer experience mandate.
Make no mistake: Making experience your business is good for business. Consider a May 2018 study by Forrester Consulting, commissioned by Adobe, which found experience-led companies have 1.6x higher brand awareness, 1.5x higher employee satisfaction, and 1.9x higher average order value. Experience-led businesses also have 1.7x higher customer retention, 1.9x return on spend, and 1.6x higher customer satisfaction rates.
There are, of course, challenges to fulfilling the customer experience mandate. The explosion of digital channels and technology gives consumers ample options for how and when they interact with brands. While new ways to engage with customers continue to emerge, the old ones don’t go away. Add to that the reality that no two customer journeys are alike, and it’s easy to see why personalizing experiences at scale and delivering engaging and relevant content in real time, throughout the customer journey, is a serious undertaking.
Indeed, all businesses today should consider themselves subscription businesses, in that customers now expect regular intervals of interactions with the brands that they love. This means building a new muscle—a focus on one-to-one customer relationships and deep personalization to build customer loyalty. Legacy thinking, systems, and processes just aren’t going to cut it.
At Adobe, we have adopted a new approach called “customer experience management” (CXM). Think of it as phase two of the customer-centric business transformation. CXM enables orchestration and personalization of the entire end-to-end customer experience, moment to moment, at scale, on any channel, in real time—so that moments like this can be avoided:
How can your organization make this happen, effectively and efficiently? It begins with five foundational elements.
The five foundational elements of Customer Experience Management
1. Open, Real-Time Customer Profile
Customer-centric businesses rely on data and insights to drive engagement and make actionable decisions. Companies today have a great deal of data, but it is often fragmented among various technology platforms and used in small pockets throughout the organization.
CXM relies on the stitching together of all of the various data flowing through an organization—through one open technology platform. This platform is essentially your organization’s set of end to end solutions that help make, manage, measure, mobilize, and monetize experiences – all from one integrated cloud. Choosing the right technology and building one common ecosystem is key here because it helps organizations connect their data to experiences. Bringing together the data—behavioral, transactional, financial, operational, and not just CRM or other first-party data—into one real-time customer profile is imperative because it fuels analysis, decision making, and activation. Real-time data is the unique differentiator here, opening the door to a whole new set of innovations that were previously out of reach for companies.
2. Ecosystem + Platform
When selecting CXM technology, companies should look for an open and extensible technology platform. The technology platform must support a single data model, customer experience apps, and an open ecosystem that helps accelerate innovation. Additionally, the technology provider behind your platform should have established partnerships with other service companies to show just how committed the vendor is in driving maximum value for its clients.
3. Creative Agility
Creative agility is also foundational for delivering on the promise of CXM by giving us the the ability to make the right content faster for every step in the customer journey. It also lets companies continuously test and optimize experiences in real time, which we all know fosters innovation. Creative agility is not possible without tools to build standout experiences, as well as real-time customer profiles that guide decision making throughout the creative process and intelligently deliver personalized content at scale.
4. Cross-Channel Orchestration
We are all aware that a single shopping journey can include a variety of channels and devices. Studies show that consumers who shop both online and in-store have a 30% higher lifetime value than those who shop using only one channel. Additionally, companies with cross-channel customer engagement strategies retain, on average, 89% of their customers. That’s why it’s imperative to have correctly sequenced, and personalized experiences across channels. Marketing is no longer about B2C or B2B strategies. It’s about B2E: business-to-everyone. Companies need to be thinking about engaging everyone including the consumer, business accounts, and companies. A CXM foundation, fueled by a unified, real-time customer profile, helps companies orchestrate the entire end-to-end customer experience—from creative to campaign to commerce.
Advanced targeting and personalization at scale isn’t possible without artificial intelligence processing and making sense of the heaps of data behind the scenes to help you really understand your customer. You need AI for real-time decisioning and actioning. The right AI will be the backbone of effective cross-channel orchestration, providing access to the data, helping you discover hidden opportunities, making tedious processes fast, and offering relevant experiences to every customer. AI can let companies personalize messages on an individual level, based on factors such as interest and behavior, as well as their transactional, financial, and operational patterns. This real-time, predictive intelligence is crucial for any organization that wants to provide truly transformative customer experiences.
It’s important to remember that not just any AI model will cut it. The artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities need to be the best model for the job at hand. You can’t simply pick an AI model “off the rack” and expect it to deliver results.
Getting CXM Right
It won’t happen overnight. But with these foundational CXM elements as a guide, organizations will be at-the-ready to deliver real-time, personalized customer experiences moment to moment, at scale, and on any channel. Welcome to the next phase of digital transformation where CXM rules the roost and separates the leaders from the laggards.