Like so many other professions, marketers had a turbulent 2020. For most, their carefully laid plans were derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic requiring them to pivot and find strategies that would continue to drive engagement with customers and prospects from the safety of their homes. But how will brands continue improving customer experience in the coming year? In this article you’ll learn why brands like Sitecore and Microsoft anticipate that improving customer experience will remain a top priority, as well as the strategies their marketing leaders will be using to deliver success.
Digital transformation is changing the ways in which brands and their customers interact with one another. While this has been a growing trend for a few years now, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital for both brands and consumers. As brands heavily shift focus to digital to meet their consumers’ needs, they also need to be improving customer experience to stay relevant.
During the recent Sitecore Symposium, a global digital marketing conference, Vijayanta Gupta, Global VP of Product and Industry Marketing at Sitecore, shared that a key to staying relevant is for brands to have the tools they need to be resilient. Applicable to events in 2020, changes in consumer behavior often remain under the surface until they become business-changing trends.
“The reality is that brands don’t miss such big changes because all of us are grappling with the crisis we’ve walked into in COVID-19,” Gupta said. “The reason brands become irrelevant and lose resilience is because they miss the small changes.”
It’s important to have the ability to leverage brand resources to reveal how your customers’ behaviors are changing and how that impacts their expectations of the experience that they want from brands, he explained.
Wina Wichienwidhtaya, MarTech Strategist at Microsoft and Jill Grozalsky, Product Marketing Director at Sitecore, led another session identifying top ways for brands to attain a superior CX. They broke it down into three focus areas: preparation and operation, innovation and execution, and evolution.
- Preparation and operation focuses on setting up your organization for success.
For instance, one element is aligning digital goals with strategic objectives. “Are your digital activities connected to your business objectives? If not, it’s time to ensure they are. Aligning these goals enables you to identify key digital metrics to report on for success and learning throughout your organization. These goals set the baseline for experimentation, and accompanying hypotheses, to discover where CX can be improved,” said Dan Olsen with Sitecore in a recent blog that recaps this session.
“Ensure appropriate tactics are prioritized and executed and that your CX efforts are measurable and reportable across your organization,” Wichienwidhtaya said.
Another element is connecting systems early on. “It’s critical to ensuring that there are no gaps in the customer experience and no ‘blind spots‘ in engagement or data collection,” Grozalsky said.
- Innovation and execution focuses on implementing experiences.
Segmenting, testing, optimizing, and using artificial intelligence (AI) to automate is crucial. For Microsoft, putting these tools to work resulted in 224 percent greater engagement. While some brands are shying away for powerful tools like AI, it’s time to take a step forward to optimize the customer experience with personalization.
“Start small. Even if you don’t have the perfect dataset, or aren’t ready to analyze it for insight, you can still start personalizing by using deterministic rules,” shared the blog.
- Evolution focuses on continuing to improve.
For brands to improve their customer experience, they must focus on data, customer feedback, and scaling to make it all possible – brands need to evolve to meet customer expectations and needs. “Continue to evolve, keep the momentum going, and continue to foster the mindset of experimentation and collaboration within your organization to continue to deliver superior CX,” said Grozalsky.
Without the right tools, this is impossible for brands that are still relying on spreadsheets and paper surveys – to truly evolve, brands must embrace technology that focuses on improvement.
See more insights that come out of Sitecore Symposium by visiting the online experience.
This piece originally appeared on Retail Technology Insider on December 10, 2020.