Adobe Symposium Highlights How to Be a “Customer Experience First” Business

Coming out of Adobe Symposium in Sydney last week, I can definitively say this: Australia and New Zealand have truly come into their own as real-world centres of digital innovation. It’s clearer than ever that as a region we are elbow-deep in this unparalleled period of digital transformation — and that we’re just starting to hit our stride.

While Symposium is always very exciting and inspiring, there’s never been one quite like this — arguably, because there’s never been a similar moment in time. Today, digital accounts for more than half of the advertising spend in Australia. The next closest is TV, with just 22% of the market.

Think about that for a minute — digital ad spend with just 25 years behind it generates more than double the ad spend of TV, a long-standing behemoth. Even more staggering? Twenty years ago digital advertising was just 1% of our market.

Rapid change has the power to cause fear – in particular fear that we’re falling behind and being replaced. Holly Ransom, CEO of Emergent, joined the opening keynote to address this resistance-causing fear and challenged the room to approach it head on.

“The single most important habit we can be building in 2019 is to start getting comfortable being uncomfortable,” says Holly. “The pace isn’t slowing down, things aren’t getting any less volatile, and things will continue to be uncertain – that’s our new operating context. So we’ve got to train and build habits – like muscles in the gym – that are going to prepare us to succeed in that new context.”

To be successful in digital advertising — or any aspect of digital experiences — takes more resilience than ever before. Now, marketers and brands need to leverage customer data to understand every person they touch with cross-channel experiences. And that’s exactly what successful leaders are doing daily. Here’s how.

1. Keeping pace with customer demand

It’s no surprise that creating meaningful, high-value customer experiences is important. But, as we saw at Symposium, it’s more critical than ever. According to Adobe’s latest CXM Index Report, 79% of ANZ customers demand these spot-on experiences from the brands they frequent — and those numbers are the highest of any market in the world. There’s simply no room for sub-par experiences.

Telecommunications is one industry facing major changes in customer demand and it’s a challenge that Jenni Barnett knows well. As Executive of Digital Channels at Telstra, Australia’s largest telco, Jenni is accountable for transforming customer experiences. She explained on stage what keeping pace with expectations meant to her.

“Our customers have been telling us for a while they want simpler propositions from us, a simpler experience. They want us to know them, they don’t want to have to repeat themselves when they call us or visit a store. They want to be rewarded for their loyalty.”

Jenni said that this loyalty is at the heart of Telstra’s T22 transformation strategy and, over the last 12 months, has included streamlining over 1800 different plans to now a core set of 20. Watch Jenni’s full keynote on Telstra’s transformation story here.

And, as we’ve recently seen, ANZ marketers aren’t risking anything when it comes to customer experiences. Australia and New Zealand-based businesses won over 25% of the global Experience Maker Awards handed out at Adobe Summit in the United States just a few months ago. We are excelling not just at home in ANZ, but around the world, and resetting the bar for customer experiences and customer experience management (CXM).

2. Enhancing customer experiences for the modern consumer

But you aren’t alone in creating these experiences. As we saw at Symposium, customers want to be heard, and they’re happy to lend their voice, provided they see that feedback is used to power future experiences.

A good example: 54% of customers want companies to actively respond when they post a negative comment or review on social media. That’s all — listen, react, and remedy the situation to create a better customer experience.

With a wave of new applications and platforms being created every month, navigation and design has become a critical part of managing the customer experience. Kae Hum, Head of Sales ANZ for Uber for Business, spoke about the importance that modern consumers place on an easy interaction experience – especially for a brand like Uber.

“There is a huge amount of pressure for Uber for Business, as part of Uber overall, to keep up with the consumer brand. If you think about the consumer app, it’s very easy to use – you take out your mobile phone and within a few swipes you’re on your way to a new destination, or your next hot meal. This really starts with technology, so Uber for Business needs to have an easy to use platform.”

The importance of design today was underlined during the creative keynote by Chi Ryan, National Experience Strategy Lead at PwC Experience Consulting. Chi explained to the room not to fall into the trap of forgetting about people and designing for mass production experiences.

“To design for experience is to design for human existence. An experience design, no matter what people tell you, is not the design process that you use. It’s not the set of wireframes that you make. It’s not a pattern library and it’s definitely not a mobile app. Designing for experience means a fundamental shift in the way that we think about the things that we make.”

Chi challenged designers and creatives to focus their efforts on the dynamic process of being human, to in turn create things that are different, unique and ultimately engaging for their audiences today.

“The human experience is complicated, unpredictable and messy. When we consider all of this, experience is at the core of human existence. If we are not here to experience, what are we here for at all?”

3. Being transparent and bringing people to the forefront

Brands must also anchor these experiences in authentic and personal connections, delivering humanised experiences backed by emotional outcomes. While things like great prices and same-day delivery can help build a brand relationship, our strongest relationships are defined by emotions rather than logic.

Today’s customers are looking at everything from the way we treat our employees and suppliers to the products we produce and, of course, the experiences we deliver. There’s a transparency and sense of responsibility and, as an organisation, we see, feel, and act on it daily.

And, I’d argue, that makes this digital transformation less about the technology than one would assume. Given these shifting customer priorities, to change the world through digital experiences — which is Adobe’s mission — you need empathy, people, and culture.

While technology can remove friction and help create and deliver incredible experiences at scale, that’s not all you’re being charged with. As creatives or digital leaders, you are being charged with changing your customers’ worlds. That means thinking big, cultivating diverse opportunities, and fully embracing diversity in background, thought, and practice. And, more importantly, we need to work to connect those dots so we can all be a part of something bigger.

Considering this shift towards greater transparency, responsibility, and people, it’s clear to me that, for brands, there’s really nowhere to hide anymore — your customers want you to pull back the curtain, let them in, and have a say in the experiences you deliver. It’s scary, but I’d also argue that it’s a great thing. Going forward, we all need to get it right for the sake of our customers and our brand’s long-term viability. And that’s pushing us to be better and deliver more.

Symposium, to me, is just the beginning. There’s no stopping the transformation and, with it, the experiences we can craft and deliver. It all starts with our collective desire to innovate, elevate, and accelerate in the name of customer experiences. And it’s supported with our focus on not just the technology but the talent, passion, and diversity that power it. Because, when those pieces come together something incredible happens. When those pieces come together, as our mission promises, we can change the world.

Our Opening, Digital Experiences and Creative Keynotes are now available On Demand. Watch it here.