I’m about to tell you something that won’t shock you: We’re smack in the middle of a major disruption. You know it, because it impacts you every day. Digital is changing everything about business, and that probably includes your job, too. Marketing isn’t about brand awareness anymore — it’s about something higher, a brand purpose that creates a deep connection between a company and its customers. Instead of telling our customers what we think they want, they now tell us exactly what they want, and how, when, and where they want it. The challenge for everyone, from marketers to data scientists, architects, and CEOs, is to figure out how to close the gap between people and the things they want to do and experience, and to make customers feel a little special along the way.
This is the heart of what we call Experience Business. And since the current shift in what it means to interact with customers is pretty massive, I want to tell you about where we, at Adobe, think customer experiences are headed, show you some companies that are leading the way, and talk about tools that will help you fuel your own digital transformation. It might seem overwhelming, but it’s also the biggest and most exciting transformation I’ve ever seen.
What do customers want?
Think about all of us just a decade ago. As consumers, we had some pretty basic needs. We needed food. Today, we need pre-measured, pre-chopped, farm-to-table, non-GMO ingredients delivered fresh to our doors with step-by-step instructions for preparing a nutritious meal. We used to need clothing. Now, we need a personal shopper to create our ideal wardrobe and deliver it to our doorstep, with the option to return it if we don’t love it. We used to need shelter. Now we want a last-minute deal on a four-star hotel close to downtown with a pool.
As consumers, we’ve become quite demanding. And the theme that ties this all together isn’t the things we want, it’s the experiences we demand — the sum total of all of a customer’s interactions with a brand, from awareness to purchase to consumption, are now critical. And the experiences that leading brands are building today don’t just maximize the time consumers spend engaging with the brand, they make the process all about each individual consumer, so at each touch point, consumers feel uniquely understood and important. To do this right, brands need a holistic understanding of their customers, so they can wow them at every single interaction. This is where we’re all competing for the foreseeable future.
Research shows that it pays to focus on experience:
- By the year 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.
- Gartner predicts that by 2018, more than 50 percent of organizations will redirect their investments to customer experience innovations.
- Accenture found that 89 percent of customers get frustrated because they need to repeat their issues to multiple representatives.
- Eighty-seven percent of customers think brands need to put more effort into providing a consistent experience, Kampyle claims.
- According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, by 2020 the demand for an omni-channel customer experience will be amplified by the need for near perfect execution.
So what, exactly, makes an Experience Business?
To figure out how to become an Experience Business, first you have to consider what an amazing experience looks and feels like for a customer. At Adobe, we’ve honed in on what customers expect: They want brands to know and respect them, and predict and deliver what they want before they ask for it, all while respecting privacy. They expect brands to speak in one voice, no matter what the point of contact is. They demand transparent technology so they can set the terms of a transaction. And they hope to be delighted at every turn — and the thing that wowed them yesterday is disappointing today, so brands must constantly elevate.
Who’s ahead of the pack, and getting it right?
These desires probably ring true to you — after all, they’re likely what you want, too, when you’re the consumer. But who’s really nailing it, and how have they taken these tenets and turned them into a relevant, delightful experience for their customers? Let me share a few of my favorite examples.
The automotive industry: There is a ton of disruption in the automotive industry right now, from ride sharing to autonomous cars and phone connectivity. Pretty soon, driving will be the least interesting thing you can do with your car! As the car becomes the ultimate experience pod, Mercedes is leading the pack. They’re an iconic brand known for their engineering and design, but they’re also focused on the experience they can wrap around that steel and leather. They’re building an ecosystem of connectivity with infotainment, big data, and machine learning to deliver a more connected, personalized experience — it’s all about getting to know and respect each driver. And they’re investing in autonomous vehicles. In the future, autonomous driving assistants will handle up to 80 percent of the driving tasks for us, creating an amazing experience that keeps getting better.
The retail industry: We’ve started to move from comparison shopping and easy ordering to same-day delivery, and even instant 3D printing. As consumers get used to these conveniences, retailers can’t compete with just quality and efficiency alone anymore. Now it’s not only about the product; it’s about selling an experience. A case study I love here is Domino’s Pizza. It used to be that a phone call that brought you pizza was amazing, but that excitement has worn off. Now you can order through the Domino’s app, keep tabs on exactly when your pizza went in the oven, track its route to your house, and even send little messages to the team making your pizza (“You’re awesome — thanks for the extra cheese!”). Domino’s sees 60 percent of its total orders via the app or website. And they’re not done disrupting yet. They now have 12 ways to place an order, including Amazon Alexa and Google Home, Facebook Messenger, a smart watch, Ford SYNC, or even just texting or tweeting them a pizza emoji.
The financial services industry: With all of these transformations in mind and as financial conversations have moved out of physical meeting rooms and into digital and social channels, UBS has changed how they deliver experiences. Whether customers view a banner ad, engage with the brand on a social channel, or sit down with a client advisor, UBS leverages an internally synced organization and customer-intelligence platform to deliver the right experience during every step of the customer journey, not matter how non-linear it is. The result is a seamless experience that meets consumers’ financial need for relevant and informative content wherever and whenever they choose to engage.
What’s the recipe for a great experience business?
When you consider the businesses that are mastering the customer experience, you may be wondering where a digital transformation starts, and how to follow it through to something that amazes your customers. Based on our research and partnerships with some masterful Experience Businesses, here’s the recipe that we know works:
1. Start with context. It’s something humans do naturally — I’ll have a different conversation with you in a boardroom than I will at a block party. You and I haven’t changed, but the context is dramatically different. For customer experiences, technology can help you develop context at scale.
2. Design for speed and scale. Context is the cue, but then you must deliver the right experience fast, and not just to one person, but to a million people, worldwide. We call this content velocity, and to get there, you need to engineer for speed and scale.
3. Milliseconds are the measure. Relationships aren’t about single interactions — they’re about a series of interactions, based on decisions people make in just milliseconds, often across multiple devices, channels, and departments. If you’re the customer, it seems like this should be simple and easy, but managing these chains of decisions and preferences is a massive task from the enterprise side, especially when you’re bound to legacy systems that weren’t designed with milliseconds in mind. You have to find solutions that master the milliseconds so customers can enjoy the journey.
4. Integrate to innovate. This is an all-hands-on-deck situation — customer relationships don’t just belong to marketing anymore. Technology is the secret to tearing down walls between departments, and unifying data and workflows to unleash innovation across your enterprise.
How do you put together all the pieces to build an Experience Business?
The deeper we went into researching these questions about building an Experience Business, the more we realized that fractured and disparate technology is a giant stumbling block for businesses. That’s what motivated us to develop Adobe Experience Cloud. It brings together all of Adobe’s capabilities across all of our clouds, to give businesses all the power they need to create the customer experiences we all want. Experience Cloud is the first purpose-built system for the Experience Business. And we’re all in — in the last year, we’ve tackled over one hundred trillion digital touch points, including all the myriad ways that customers interact with your brand.
Adobe Experience Cloud is your enterprise destination for everything about being an Experience Business, all unified through a common login and single sign on. Our powerful core services provide access to shared consumer profiles, centralized assets, and all of the tools you need to design, deliver, orchestrate, and optimize customer experiences. Here’s what comes together through the Experience Cloud:
The Adobe Analytics Cloud. This is the brains of the operation. The Analytics Cloud lets you bring context to offline and digital data so you can know your customers as people. It helps you build loyal relationships with customers you know, and learn more about the folks you’ve just met. And meaningful measurement and precision audience creation let you put real-time insights into action.
The Adobe Advertising Cloud. This is how we make it simple to deliver video, display, search, social, and television advertising across any screen and format. It’s the world’s largest independent cross-channel ad platform, so you can identify and engage customers with consistent and relevant advertising, and integrate all of your media planning and buying.
The Adobe Marketing Cloud. This is the foundation. You can personalize the experiences that make customers want to visit, download, engage, and keep coming back because they always find exactly what they’re looking for.
The Adobe Creative Cloud and Document Cloud. This is where great content is made. You have to power great experiences with great content, and be able to manage workflows digitally, so we’ve integrated everything in Experience Cloud with the world’s best and most comprehensive creative and document applications and services. You can go quickly and fluidly from idea, to creation, to execution.
All of this starts with, and is built upon, the Adobe Cloud Platform so that you can centralize and standardize customer data and content from any source — and that means that you can create powerfully cohesive, actionable insights and profiles. This is our biggest product investment this year, because it’s the Cloud Platform that lets you integrate your tech and bring together disparate data so you can get to Experience Business faster and easier. We want you to be able to do better what you do now, and do new, exciting, unforeseen things that will delight your customers at every turn.
Seize the disruption.
Making experience your business is a big commitment, and it won’t happen overnight. But we’re here as you start your journey, or take the next step. We’re committed to helping our customers build amazing customer experiences because this is a moment worth seizing. We think the companies that embrace experiences are the ones that will succeed, and we know they’re the ones who’ll innovate what we haven’t even imagined yet. We just can’t wait to help you build what’s next.
Hear more stories from top brands who know the power of putting great customer experiences first in their organizations.