Data-driven to Obsession

We’ve all heard that cus­tomer expe­ri­ence is more impor­tant now than ever – espe­cial­ly as the glob­al pan­dem­ic means con­sumers are turn­ing to brands more often to meet even more needs. And with the stress­es of 2020, those expe­ri­ences need to be as fric­tion­less as possible.

So, increas­ing­ly, many brands seek or claim to be cus­tomer-cen­tric. At Adobe, we’re not shy in say­ing we are cus­tomer obsessed. It’s not com­mon to use a word like ‘obsessed’ at work and have it sit com­fort­ably, but we think it’s brave – and accu­rate – and here’s why:

We know that data has every­thing to do with the qual­i­ty of cus­tomer expe­ri­ences, so when we speak to busi­ness lead­ers about their desire to be cus­tomer-cen­tric, we want to help them unlock data and use it to pow­er mean­ing­ful and mea­sur­able action. The archi­tect behind that action is our data-dri­ven oper­at­ing mod­el, or DDOM. DDOM is a new way of work­ing that cre­ates a shared organ­i­sa­tion­al expec­ta­tion: that any deci­sion about cus­tomer expe­ri­ence will be pred­i­cat­ed on data and insight from a range of Adobe prod­ucts and third-par­ty sys­tems and inputs. These insights help map cus­tomer jour­neys, assign KPIs to each point along the way and most cru­cial­ly, organ­ise teams from the top down to – obses­sive­ly – deliv­er for their customer.

It’s a method­ol­o­gy that drove our own trans­for­ma­tion and one that we feel should be at the heart of any brand that says the cus­tomer is at the heart of theirs.

But with so many brands talk­ing cus­tomer-cen­tric­i­ty, what might be hold­ing them back?

Too often, we hear busi­ness­es tell us that their com­mit­ment to cus­tomer-cen­tric­i­ty is uneven. Per­haps it only exists in parts of their organ­i­sa­tion, or maybe embrac­ing new approach­es means part­ing with her­itage (or deal­ing with its size). Some organ­i­sa­tions real­ly aren’t being hon­est with them­selves; they say they are all about the cus­tomer, but their true obses­sion is finan­cial. And some­times, prac­ti­cal­i­ties from HR to lega­cy tech­nol­o­gy sys­tems just don’t tru­ly sup­port the mission.

DDOM can shift the con­ver­sa­tion from stag­nat­ing ‘buts’ to pos­si­bil­i­ty-reveal­ing ‘what ifs’, using data and insight to test hypothe­ses, val­i­date deci­sions and reveal new sur­pris­es and pathways.

As an exam­ple, at Adobe, we have a num­ber of cus­tomer audi­ences and per­sonas and we used DDOM as the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic unfold­ed. As trends, inter­ests and prod­uct enquiries evolved based on lock­down sta­tus and needs in each mar­ket, we became frankly obsessed as new pat­terns revealed them­selves. We applied DDOM to inter­ro­gate them; we looked at qual­i­ta­tive and quan­ti­ta­tive data, we found and mapped cor­re­la­tions and charged our teams to peel back all the lay­ers. Ulti­mate­ly, we uncov­ered a brand-new audi­ence seg­ment – one that was pre­vi­ous­ly unknown and cer­tain­ly not part of an acqui­si­tion strat­e­gy. So DDOM’s pow­er is not just in bring­ing us clos­er to the audi­ences we’ve iden­ti­fied, but also reveal­ing new cus­tomers to learn about.

How to be cus­tomer obsessed

Our DDOM-led trans­for­ma­tion has tak­en just over three years, and in that time, we’ve real­ly learned by doing. Here are our tips for those who want to join the ranks of the cus­tomer obsessed.

Be action oriented

Remem­ber that data is good, insight is bet­ter, action is key. While a dash­board like DDOM can help brands iden­ti­fy a sin­gle point of truth, it falls to teams to embrace that truth, align around it and make sure there are hard and fast plans to turn truth into tan­gi­ble cus­tomer benefits.

Set cus­tomer-dri­ven KPIs

In a cus­tomer-obsessed world, set KPIs that mir­ror, mea­sure and improve the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence. Ensure their deliv­ery by appoint­ing a clear own­er. At Adobe, we have leads that own each point in our cus­tomer jour­ney who are empow­ered to make deci­sions and who are accountable.

… But don’t boil the ocean

We learned that when teams align to a jour­ney point instead of func­tion, there can be a lot of voic­es argu­ing for a lot of KPIs. Con­trol the impulse to please every­one and instead focus on an impact­ful and achiev­able num­ber of KPIs, know­ing you can always build and mod­i­fy based on what you learn in market.

Let your lan­guage lead the way

Indulge your one-track, cus­tomer focused mind with a lan­guage to match. Democ­ra­tise data with your sin­gle source of truth dash­board in order to share it organ­i­sa­tion-wide and fuel a new vocab­u­lary that trans­forms inter­nal nar­ra­tives, dis­cus­sions – even meet­ings! At Adobe, we talk so much more about our audi­ence vs. units sold now, and it’s not only refresh­ing but keeps us ruth­less­ly focused on our cus­tomer experience.

Get spon­sor­ship from the top

It’s no sur­prise that peo­ple ‘fol­low the leader’, so get buy-in from the top before you embark on a trans­for­ma­tion to be cus­tomer obsessed. At Adobe, our key spon­sor was the CEO, who has a pedi­gree in major busi­ness trans­for­ma­tions. The oper­a­tional teams soon fol­lowed. Our CEO was also an ear­ly adopter of our new vocab­u­lary and helped us lit­er­al­ly set a new tone.

Change – and tak­ing the actions that make it hap­pen – isn’t easy. As any­one on a new diet or fol­low­ing a new fit­ness regime can tell us, tak­ing that first step is the hard­est part. Yet, as the laws of physics go, an object in motion stays in motion.

We can’t promise it’s easy to look at things in a new way, build unfa­mil­iar process­es and sys­tems, even to change your lan­guage. But if a busi­ness is seri­ous about being cus­tomer-cen­tric, it’s nec­es­sary. And as we can attest, the hard work is worth it.

Find out more about empow­er­ing your busi­ness to make more effec­tive data dri­ven deci­sions here.