Customer experience to take centerstage in 2016: Econsultancy-Adobe Study
While the importance of customer experience (CX) has been long established, 2016 is the year that we are really going to see CX come into its own. According to a recent study by Econsultancy in partnership with Adobe, the importance of managing an excellent CX is increasingly setting the tone for other business priorities.
Delivering great CX is about delivering excellence in customer interactions, in a consistent fashion throughout the journey, across all touch-points – whether it’s through Web or mobile search, or an in-store experience.
More than 7,000 marketing professionals worldwide took part in this year’s Econsultancy Digital Trends Survey, with 16% of respondents from Asia Pacific (APAC). Besides providing insights into marketers’ priorities and views on digital trends, the study also illuminates differences between how marketers and agencies in APAC versus those in Europe and North America, interpret and prioritise the different elements that make for a brilliant CX.
As in 2015, the priorities that sit atop marketers’ lists are focused on the individual — personalization, content optimization and social media engagement, are overlapping capabilities with the customer at the centre. In APAC, more marketers (31%) are prioritising social media engagement this year, compared to last year (28%); ahead of personalization (30%) and content optimization (26%). Although also important globally, social media engagement (25%) is prioritised after personalization (31%), and content optimization (29%). While the ranking of priorities may differ year-on-year, the reality is that all of them require attention. Many of these capabilities are complementary and sometimes inter-dependent. Therefore, the ability to strike a balance in addressing the myriad of priorities will mean the ability to deliver great CX.
Figure 1: Which three digital-related areas are the top priorities for your organisation?
According to the survey, marketers and agencies worldwide continue to see customer experience and the content to support it as the most exciting opportunities in 2016. Underpinning those activities is leveraging the data necessary to provide individual, relevant messaging and service. APAC marketers are aligned in this respect – customer experience optimization comes up tops, according to 17% of companies and 15% of agencies in the region. Creating compelling content for digital experiences follows as a close second, as indicated by 15% of companies and 18% of agencies. The same proportion of companies and agencies (15%) see individual-focused data-driven marketing as the single most exciting opportunity for 2016.
Figure 2: Which one area is the single most exciting opportunity for your organisation (or your clients) in 2016?
Data is unanimously viewed as the key to the future, by marketers across the world. This demonstrates marketers’ awareness of the critical role it plays, towards improving CX. As mentioned earlier, marketers see individual-focused data-driven marketing and optimization of customer experience as key opportunities today. These opportunities are set to rise in significance, as a greater proportion (19%) see them as the most exciting opportunities ahead in five years’ time. While the importance of data is well-established, there remain challenges in the mastery of data – specifically, turning raw data into useful insight to generate great CX. Marketers around the world ranked the access and control over data as one of the top three ‘most difficult’ factors to master in delivering CX.
Figure 3: Most exciting opportunity – 2016 vs ‘five years’ time’
Great CX is made up of many elements that all work together with the customer needs and wishes as the end-goal. In addition to data, strategy, technology, culture and collaboration are other elements that organizations need to take a close look at, to truly deliver excellent CX. Interestingly enough, only 27% of respondents ranked collaboration as most important to CX success which should be a red flag to marketing teams, because without collaboration, we run the risk of presenting fragmented and misaligned CX. Ultimately, the message of this research is this – marketers need to work together across teams, departments and even organizations. It is only when every element in the mix is aligned, that marketers can delivery truly unified, coherent and outstanding CX.