Staying ahead of customer experience in 2022

Four ways to exceed customer expectations in uncertain times

The disruptions, trends, and innovations that are changing customer experience (CX) today aren’t slowing down anytime soon. Massive paradigm shifts in consumer behaviors continue to unfold in a way that makes them difficult to predict. But one thing is for certain: customers are looking for compelling personalized experiences that meet them where they are.

In 2022, the race to succeed in the field of customer experience is more complex and demanding than ever. It’s vital for organizations to embrace new technologies, develop knowledge, and foster agile ways of working in order to keep delivering value to their customers and grow their businesses.

We’ve asked several of our experts to weigh in with key insights on how to prepare for continued uncertainty and see your brand thrive in 2022 and beyond. This is what they told us:

1. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are raising the bar on CX

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are omnipresent in consumers’ daily lives and they shape how customers browse, shop, bank, and so much more. New features are rolling out across devices, apps, and digital touchpoints and raising expectations for everyday experiences. It’s no wonder organizations are leaning into AI as a powerful tool to automate personalization en masse.

From a marketing technology perspective, AI and ML are proliferating across solutions as tools for digital marketers. “Commodity services like image and text recognition are increasingly common, making this cutting-edge technology more accessible than ever,” explains Georg Henzler, senior director of solution architecture with Netcentric, A Cognizant Digital Business. As these technologies are becoming ubiquitous in helping brands build compelling experiences, businesses are able to unlock more value.

AI enables organizations to leverage data to tailor content and personalize experiences to customers — and, most crucially, to do this at scale. And businesses across all industries are incorporating this into their strategy. Even traditional industries like banking are incorporating novel technologies like AI assistants to analyze the activity and provide tailored service recommendations to consumers. All this in pursuit of keeping up with customer expectations.

2. Unlock time-to-market and innovation with the cloud

Today, the cloud is a de-facto standard for infrastructure, applications, and digital experiences. The adoption of cloud services and the cloud operating model will continue gaining momentum, and progressive businesses have already made the move.

“The powerful combination of well-architected product platforms and the right product stack will automatically unlock innovation for brands,” says Netcentric’s Henzler. “Add in the cloud operating model and you’ve enabled incredible time-to-market.”

Complexity is rising and successful cloud adoption requires strong engineering practices like infrastructure as code (IaC) and cloud monitoring along with an agile operating model. “More often, the challenges are related to ways of working, hindering the cloud’s full potential,” says Stephan Becker, head of operations and support at Netcentric. Traditional IT management processes and mindsets can prevent organizations from executing these experiences with speed, which is a problem in today’s constantly evolving landscape.

3. Derive meaningful insights from the customer journey the right way

Businesses must carefully consider how they collect and use customer data. Firstly, long-term data management strategies without a powerful customer data platform (CDP) won’t cut it with today’s customer expectations and market competition. With an expertly implemented CDP, businesses can understand their consumers in real-time and meet them wherever they are in their journey. CDPs allow you to centralize individual data points into unified 360-degree customer profiles and go beyond traditional client-side tracking. This landslide innovation offers both organizational and technological changes and into the next generation of digital analytics.

Just as businesses are developing a better understanding of their customers, customers are also seeking to understand how and why their data is collected. This is an important part of earning loyalty and nurturing trust with customers and should be part of data management strategies.

“The shift to multidisciplinary roles from traditional analytics roles represents a change in mindset, creating opportunities for analysts and engineers to develop new skills around CDPs in order to satisfy our customer's needs. Together with our vendors, we’re providing a transparent understanding of how data is collected and processed as data platform technologies continue to evolve.”

— Mauricio Frias, Senior Marketing Technology Engineer, Netcentric, A Cognizant Digital Business

4. Take customer journey management to the next level

In the face of uncertain behavior trends and competitive disruption, customer journeys are the main throughway to delighting customers and fostering brand loyalty. But as Fritz Oleinek, senior director of marketing technology consulting at Netcentric, points out: “With the type and frequency of touchpoints across the customer journey increasing, it’s even more important than ever to ensure consistency across those touchpoints.” This is how to get the most out of customer journeys.

Today, experience management is moving away from single touchpoint-based management. While the industry has been talking about connecting touchpoints across the customer journey for years, now we finally have the technology to bring it all together and achieve a customer-centric view within the journey. In the past, websites, emails, in-app messaging, and other touchpoints were created and managed separately, often in different teams or departments. Marketing technology is now offering easier and more collaborative ways of working to maintain and manage customer journeys.

Customer journey management can be approached in two ways. The activation-first approach focuses on one or two main journeys and can be built in minimal time, completing necessary customer profile data management steps, content templating, and offer decisioning. Adobe Journey Optimizer is the ideal tool for this and can help businesses ramp up their journey management and have the option of upgrading to the data-first approach.

That approach involves building a robust CDP using the Adobe Experience Platform. Oleinek will present our point of view on CDPs in general and how we embed the two approaches in managing customer data and customer journeys at the Adobe Summit 2022. To learn more, tune into the breakout session “Personalization Is the Engine, but Data Is the Fuel!

Key takeaways:

At a time when flux is the new normal, the accelerated evolution of customer experience evolves means brands and businesses must not lose step in evolving too. The key to thriving in this uncertain era is differentiating your brand from competitors in a meaningful way through personalized customer experiences — in real-time and at scale.

Learn more about how Netcentric, A Cognizant Digital Business, can support your organization in its accelerated CX journey at Adobe Summit 2022.

Four ways to exceed customer expectations in uncertain times