Tips for making technology more human.

Our research with Forrester revealed a definite need for greater connection going forward. Here’s how to act on the research.

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Before the pandemic, it was all about being customer-centric. But the pandemic showed us we need to be “human-centric.” We need to move beyond seeing customers as segments and see them as real people with very pressing, human needs. As counterintuitive as it sounds, that requires technology. You need analytics to understand thousands or millions of individual customers’ behaviors and needs, and to discover what motivates them to act.

Yet six in 10 firms found it very or extremely challenging to gain insights about customer behavior. And that’s what it will take. So, it’s no surprise that more than half of businesses we surveyed plan to expand, upgrade, or implement technologies to help them be more agile, more responsive, and more creative in their experiences.

“[Until recently,] technology was a great enabler for patients and providers. Now, technology is part of the actual distribution of healthcare services,” said Ken Kellogg, vice president of brand and digital experience at Mercy Health. And it’s just as vital in every other industry.

You also need a digital foundation to automate the delivery of highly personalized experiences. Only then can you create experiences that are more innovative, more responsive, and more likely to delight them at every turn. Here are four ways to do that.

1 Increase your digital agility

Cloud technology allows you to quickly adapt to changing consumer demands. And even more importantly, do it in real time.

Media and entertainment companies are using cloud-based, real-time customer journey analytics to meet customers in the moment with just the right experience — from instantly queuing up another program based on their recent viewing habits, to knowing why they cancelled a subscription and delivering an offer to win them back.

Using real-time customer journey analytics, automation, and AI, you can gain a deeper understanding of customer behaviors to deliver deeply personalized experiences at scale. You’ll have the agility to meet customers in the moment — delivering information and content as fast as life changes.

2 Invest in digital technologies

Video:  Research shows that video attracts and keeps consumers’ attention. But it’s also an effective way to create connection. The good news is that millions of people are now familiar with some form of video conferencing.

When Michaels craft stores had to forgo their in-person classes, they created video tutorials to keep their customers connected and engaged with the crafting community. Home Depot did the same thing with home improvement. And when financial institutions had to close their branches, they shifted to video appointments. This helped maintain the personal banker connection, capped off with a more efficient, less paper-intensive enrollment experience.

Mobile apps:  With smartphones now making up 40% of all e-commerce and the momentum continuing to move toward mobile, every business should look at how mobile apps can improve the customer experience — whether that’s ordering an item for pickup, scheduling appointments, or asking a question about a purchase or service. .

The survey showed that commerce and e-commerce interactions are primed for the greatest mobile growth — particularly for Gen Z and millennials. But don’t forget to communicate about all that your apps can help them do.

Conversational commerce:  The data made it clear that convenience is key, so look for ways to help your customer get what they need in simple, self-service ways, like using AI chat bots to reduce long queue times. Sixty-nine percent of businesses said reaching out via chat or email significantly or somewhat increased during the pandemic. “Chat bots are the hot trend right now in technology,” says Steinhour. “Many tech companies are not only using them for their own sites, they’re creating them for others.”

Emerging technologies:  Be it AR, VR, 3D, or voice activation, these technologies can create incredibly rich experiences that will help replace the in-person connections we’ve lost. Think 3D video conferencing. Virtual dressing rooms. And VR doctor visits that feel like the doctor is sitting in your living room. “Voice activation use is also accelerating right now,” says Steinhour. “People love the convenience and it untethers them from their chairs.”

3 Think about the entire customer journey experience

Every channel is an opportunity to add humanity. When customers couldn’t run to the nearest AT&T store to get their next phone or talk to a sale rep about features, those businesses had to re-create the in-store experience online. They beefed up their call centers, websites, chat, and community forums, and showed consumers they have great alternatives to brick and mortar.

The more connected the journey, the better. As movie theaters started opening back up, many deeply integrated digital into experience. Patrons can now purchase tickets, choose their seats, and even order their concessions long before they arrive at the theater. They can even use apps for pre-movie entertainment along with everyone else in the theater. And that’s the kind of connected experiences consumers want.  One-third of consumers said seamless shopping and customer service experiences make them more likely to shop with a brand.

4 Consider using trusted partners to help

Consider using trusted partners to help. While many companies are implementing these new technologies themselves, about 25% are turning to outside help to guide them. And almost half are doing a combination of both. Digitally advanced firms are even more likely to rely on external experts. “Our customers are looking to us as more of a partner than before,” says a marketing director we surveyed from a global technology company. “This trend will continue, and firms that can make decision-making easier and pain free for the consumer are brands who will win.”

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  2. Retail
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  4. Financial Services
  5. Media and Entertainment
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To create more personal and human digital experiences, invest in new, compliant technologies and alternative channels, such as telehealth and wearable devices, that provide real-time health and lifestyle data.



Reimagine the retail experience to meet changing times, and connect your online and offline experiences. Implement technology to help you be more agile, deliver personalization at scale, understand your customers more deeply, and be able to optimize your media.


Tech and Tech Services

Address the talent gap by creating low-code, no-code processes that don’t rely heavily on IT. Modernize your stack with cloud technology to nimbly navigate today’s changes, as well as those you can’t foresee. And leverage AI to create hyper-personalized experiences you can automate and deliver at scale.


Financial Services

Create a consistent experience between digital and physical branches. Know your customer journeys — including where human interaction is better and where digital fails. Then find ways to improve them. Focus on responsiveness and speed to market, and be proactive in your communication (especially around fraud).


Media and Entertainment

Focus on building community and deepening your relationships with fans, subscribers, and clients in a digital context. This becomes especially important as consumers begin culling some of the subscriptions they added during the pandemic and as we begin to navigate a cookieless world.

Looking ahead, we see positive momentum. Seventy-nine percent of businesses expect to grow their way out of this challenging time and say digital experiences can help, just as many agree that digital experiences are the most effective way to reach and engage consumers. No matter which industry you’re in, remember that while technology provides the tools, caring about people is what creates the connections. Find out why this need for connection will be the enduring legacy of this time. And how  Adobe can help.

Explore other sections of the report


How to heed the call for connection.

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What's working in the new digital experience.

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