7 decisions APAC business leaders must make to build a customer experience advantage

Companies that invest in building a customer experience advantage outperform their competitors.

In the Asia-Pacific region (APAC), customers do not just wish for easy and convenient experiences that transition gracefully from in-store to online — they expect them. To compete and win, businesses in this fast-growing region are now taking customer experience management (CXM) to new heights, offering personalized deals, points for purchases, and even birthday celebrations to nurture engagement and loyalty.

The popular The 1 application in Thailand, for instance, provides millions of subscribers with an array of features and benefits to entice them to frequent participating businesses and to bring their friends. The 1, a lifestyle platform from the Thai conglomerate The Central Group, serves as a portal to thousands of businesses and services in retail, healthcare, finance, insurance, and other sectors for convenient, one-stop shopping and rewards redemption.

Among its many features, The 1 pushes personalized promotions to its users while they are visiting a partnering business, rewards them with every purchase they make, and allows them to transfer their rewards to other users, potentially drawing more customers to businesses in the app. The 1 helps keep existing customers happy, attract new users, and increase sales as well as gather a rich trove of data collected from login to the final sale. Organizations can use the information to sharpen their marketing and delight customers even more with custom-tailored messages and offers.

If The 1 sounds like a win-win, it is. More than 25 percent of Thailand’s residents utilize it, making it the nation’s number-one digital lifestyle and loyalty platform. APAC businesses that want to get out in front of the competition — or even to keep up — need to place the customer experience (CX) at the very heart of their goals and objectives.

How to get there: 7 steps to better customer experiences

The 2021 Digital Trends Report from Adobe and Econsultancy highlights the biggest benefit to organizations that prioritize CX: they get ahead of the competition. The report states that, “More than two-thirds of the companies with top-tier CX functions outpaced their sectors in the second half of 2020 and they were three times more likely to have ‘significantly outpaced’ their sectors than the rest of the sample.”

If you want great experiences for your customers — and the increase in business the resulting buzz can bring — make “customers first” your mantra.

Adobe’s own decade-long progression through the digital age, which we are also helping to shape, illustrates not only the desirability, but the very necessity of ongoing digital transformation. When we shifted from selling packaged software to offering cloud subscriptions, we moved from an arms-length relationship with customers to interacting with them 24/7.

To get there, we adopted a data-driven operating model (DDOM) that transformed our internal operations and created a common language around data. The results are more and better customer engagement and tremendous benefits to our business.

Most companies today are awash in data that could help them deliver better experiences. The problem for most is that they cannot act on it fast enough. In our recent global survey of marketing, technology, and business leaders, just 23 percent of respondents rated their organizations as “very strong” in their ability to gain accurate insights quickly. A key variable in speed to insight is an organization’s technology infrastructure. Companies using a cloud-connected platform to unify their customer and marketing data are more than twice as likely to fit in the “very strong” category, compared to those using an on-premises platform or ad-hoc solutions.

The time is ripe for APAC companies to seize the day and follow the lead of The 1 and other CX-focused brands in the region, including M1 and Standard Chartered Bank. A CX-forward attitude, combined with the right mix of strategies, technologies, and skills, can propel your organization to the top, placing you heads and shoulders above your competitors.

To get there, ask yourself these questions:

  1. What’s our vision for the customer experience we want to create?
    Too many organizations start buying tech solutions before they are clear on what they want the technology to do. Before you even browse platforms or tools, make sure you understand who your target customers are, what actions you want them to take, and what an ideal customer experience would comprise. In other words, map your customer journey end to end, and identify the pain points you need to solve for today, who you need to work with, and what happens in the year ahead and beyond.
  2. What’s our cloud transformation strategy?
    Moving into the cloud or modernizing with cloud-native applications is not just a tactical move. Cloud-based business models offer a plethora of business benefits, including better business continuity, improved operational reliability, agility, enhanced productivity, scalability, and speed. How will you get there? How can you do it in a way that delights your customers?
  3. What’s our digital foundation for customer experiences?
    Every structure needs a firm foundation. To support your CXM program and make it richer and more data-driven, choose a top-quality content management system (CMS) — such as Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) — and partner with the right domain experts to help you achieve your CX vision. Doing so will free up your team to focus on your core business delivery.
  4. What other technologies will we invest in to build engaging customer experiences?
    Look for new tools that can help you deliver the right experience to the right customer at the right time. In our 2021 Digital Trends survey, 46 percent of B2C leaders and 35 percent of B2B leaders said personalization is the emerging capability that would make the most difference in improving CX, making it the top choice in both sectors. For B2C leaders, “video to increase brand engagement” was the second choice (28 percent), followed by artificial intelligence and bots (22 percent) and virtual or augmented reality (20 percent). B2B leaders expressed a strong interest in IoT connected devices (26 percent), video (24 percent), and VR/AR (24 percent). CX leaders are using these technologies to enhance customers’ experiences with their sites, services, and products, and to attract new consumers.
  5. How will we use those technologies to deliver omnichannel experiences that help our business acquire, convert, and retain customers?
    In a 2019 study by Econsultancy, 52 percent of Southeast Asia marketers said omnichannel marketing was a high priority. The same report showed brands that lead the pack in omnichannel marketing are also significantly more likely to emphasize personalization (63 percent vs. 45 percent).
  6. The writing is on the wall in the APAC region: you must sharpen your focus on the customer journey you want to create, and every part of your business needs to be in alignment with it. In our 2021 Digital Trends survey, 63 percent of B2C leaders and 57 percent of B2B leaders reported unusual growth in digital customers over the past year, while about half of all respondents reported unusual buying behavior from existing customers. To build customer loyalty in this environment, you must be able to use customer data to provide relevant experiences in real time.

This approach is at the heart of The 1’s mission, and key to its phenomenal success. Likewise, at Adobe, our Experience Cloud platform unifies data from various sources and touchpoints to push personalized content to customers based on their preferences and interactions, wherever they are — offline or online. Adobe Analytics and Adobe Target further enable us to track behavior, run A/B testing, and understand how they are engaging to remove friction points and continually improve their experiences.

  1. How will we use data in smart ways to deliver content and experiences that matter to our customers?
    Simply capturing data will not give you the results you want — you need to glean insights from it and then take meaningful action. Bear in mind that meaningful action does not just require data. It requires empathy to create experiences that foster an emotional bond between your customer and your brand. And it requires trust, which you build by demonstrating respect for your customer’s privacy.
  2. How will we source the talent, develop the skills, and organize the teams that will bring our CXM strategy to life?
    Marketers today need skills not only to devise catchy slogans and brand positioning — although these abilities are as important as ever. The fast-changing digital world, accelerated by the pandemic, means we also need savvy in such areas as data analytics, change management, and storytelling to define our own organization’s journey, which ideally centers on that of our customers.
  3. Data is the key that unlocks both those journeys. Once you know where you are headed and how you will get there, you can then help everyone else in the organization equip themselves to understand, collaborate, and live that story. In other words, a data-driven operating model tells you not only your own story, but also which customers need your help at any given moment — which is also your story.

To learn more about how leading brands in APAC and around the world are transforming the customer experience, watch the Adobe Summit 2021 sessions on demand now.