Thinking about digital customer experience management

Thinking about digital customer experience management

Run by MarketingWeek, their live peer panel in June looked at digital customer experience management. I was lucky enough to be part of that panel. Joined by fellow digital marketing folk from the likes of Thomas Cook, and Zaggora the session provided some interesting debate and points of view.

I thought it worth sharing my notes for the session. You can also listen to the BrightTALK session and hear what everyone had to say.

What makes for a good digital customer experience?

How do you deliver a good digital customer experience?

In very simple terms brands need to dial down frustration (which is often how bad customer experience manifests itself) and dial up on delivering against customer expectations. Expectations are based on needs and wants so by definition that means brands need to understand their customers.

How can brands manage customer experience?

For me, understanding your customers represents the starting point. That insight comes needs to be derived from multiple sources. That certainly means looking well beyond user experience and clickstream data. It needs to include the voice of the customer – which might include things always on customer surveys but also more in depth qualitative stuff derived from focus groups.

Then you have to create a ‘customer experience’ strategy around how you are going to deliver against the expectations you have identified. One that covers multiple channels and addresses barriers such as organisation structures (internal and external), platforms and technology and measurement and attribution.

You might not have a customer experience strategy but you might have a content strategy that maps the customer journey you are trying to influence to the content and the specific actions and engagements you are trying to achieve. It helps look beyond channels and platforms and keeps customer engagement at the heart of what we do.

What factors can improve digital customer experience?

The Holy Grail has to be driving relevance closely followed by engagement and action. Content is the currency of relevance and is one of the reasons why content led digital marketing has gained so much support. Each bit of content (whether is be a piece of micro-copy or a full blown article) needs to be useful and engaging as well as findable and sharable – all of which can be measured.

Is it all about digital?

What digital channels are most important – what about mobile?

Mobile is definitely becoming a hugely significant channel (that’s true without exception of all the brands and businesses I work on). But increasingly, with things like responsive web design, it is becoming less relevant to distinguish between mobile and other channels. Increasingly customer expectations need to be understood and delivered against across multiple channels where the customer is ultimately in charge of that experience. Omnichannel retail being a good example.

We assume consumers are embracing digital, is this totally true?

Yes, they are. Research unanimously supports that. But it is not at the exception of other channels. We are creating an ‘and’ economy. Where digital is concerned that represents multiple screens – mobile, tablet and TV all used at the same time for example – but it includes in-store, telephone and more traditional media.

How dangerous is it to neglect traditional channels?

I think you might be missing an opportunity to amplify and strengthen your message. Rather than looking at online and offline or traditional and new media channels I think a more useful framework is that offered by the owned, earned and paid model – and increasingly converged media. Native advertising for example.

Developing an approach to owned and earned media based on high quality content is a must. Having said that, the big challenge is scaling the stories you are trying to tell and all of the good effort you are making across owned and earned media. That might, dare I say it, involve using the smart use of paid media.

How are brands measuring loyalty and engagement online?

What are brands measuring today? Is it all about clicks and visits?

What is clear is that measurement and evaluation frameworks need to look beyond just the beginning and end of the funnel i.e. beyond acquisition and conversion metrics. The customer journey is becoming increasingly messy and engagement often happens off site and across social and other channels. That necessitates the use of an appropriate set of engagement metrics.

Are all engagements equally valuable?

No, we are starting to look at ‘likes’ as a vanity measure (!) and certainly less significant than a share or comment. Quality of a particular engagement is important and different types of engagement definitely have different value. Trick is to start to understand what that value is. Segmentation is your friend where that is concerned.

Does the delivery of customer experience excellence equate to higher sales?

Yes, I think it does. But you have still have to activate and convert your engaged customers. Remember too that your customer engagement programmes create both buyers and contributors. We work hard to develop and  derive value from contributors – that includes people who might not be your highest value customers but help convert those people that are.

How customer experience will change organisations ...

Are companies set up to manage a multichannel experience?

Often not.

Organisational structures (internal and across agency teams), systems and platforms and silo-ed measurement and evaluation all make managing and optimising a multichannel experience challenging.

Who should be in charge of it and what do they need to change?

So, when it comes to developing organisations that deliver great customer experience it needs to be supported at the very highest level and that aspiration needs to be woven into the organisations DNA. Having said that operational teams have a crucial role when it comes to driving change. That might be driven by the basic desire to do their jobs better. Sometimes a bit of magic happens when those two things – top down and bottom up – can meet in the middle.

What will a good customer experience look like tomorrow?

For me it is about organisations and marketing departments becoming more agile in the way they go about the work they do. That includes becoming more data driven and developing an ethos based on test and learn. We need to look beyond formalized internal process and just following the plan. We need to be remarkable in the customer experience we provide and focus on individuals and the interactions we have with them.