After attending the recent Sitecore Experience Europe in London, all kinds of thoughts about customer experience and technology were whizzing around in my head. Whilst expectations are high, the opportunities that technology, and platforms such as Sitecore now offer mean that marketers and brands can create truly personalised experiences.
But how important are these experiences?
Well, as it turns out, very important. In fact, Sitecore shared that customer experience overtakes price and product as the number one factor for customers when they’re making a buying decision. This might sound surprising at first, but we’ve all experienced a slow website or a difficult buying journey that has resulted in us abandoning our baskets and the contents within. Whether it’s B2C or B2B, a poor experience can have a big impact on those sales figures.
Technology is, of course, proving invaluable in helping marketers close the gap between expected experience and the real deal. Companies are investing heavily in digital, and $2.3 trillion is set to be spend on digital transformation by 2023. As marketers, we need to make sure that those investments are being spent on the right technologies for our businesses, that we’re considering the full customer experience, and that we don’t lose sight of that crucial human connection that has driven marketing for so many years.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) implementation has grown 270% in the past four years and is quickly being picked up in many areas of businesses. Now, it’s the turn of marketing. But we must be smart about how it’s adopted and implemented. AI can be used for content creation, personalisation, and provide customers with information – but it mustn’t be looked at with a siloed view.
Connecting technology with a human approach
59% of consumers think that companies have lost touch with the human element of customer experience, so marketers need to understand how technology can be adopted in a way that doesn’t eliminate that vital element.
Humans love a story. We love emotions and authentic connections. We don’t enjoy feeling like a number. The best marketing campaigns have all played on this desire for human connection and, even with great technological advancements, this still rings true. The whole marketing playbook shouldn’t be thrown out just because we’ve got some shiny new toys to play with.
In this experience economy, technologies such as AI need to be approached with customer connection at front of mind. Yes, automation is exciting and the possibilities for personalisation grows day by day but that connection, that human element, is what turns a one-time buyer into a loyal customer.
So how do we bridge the gap and make sure that digital transformation technologies aren’t devoid of human emotion and connection?
1. Remember that technology is just one piece of the marketing puzzle
Technology is incredibly helpful, but it isn’t a silver bullet. Regardless of all your hopes and dreams, one piece of tech won’t provide all the answers and solutions. Instead, marketers need to work with technology and understand the role it can play within the wider mix. Take a step back, look at the full customer journey and see where technology can be used to enhance and improve.
2. Think about language
Any marketer worth his or her salt understands the importance of using the right words. This still matters when it comes to digital transformation and incorporating technology. For example, a chatbot might be a helpful way to direct customers around your site and build a connection with them – but only if the language used by the chatbot hits the spot. If the chatbot seems ‘spammy’ or too cold, users will just hit ‘X’ and reject a conversation with the brand.
3. Look to your own experiences
Sometimes we need to bridge the gap between our professional and personal lives, taking lessons from our own experiences on the other side of the customer journey. What brands have you had a good experience with? What made that experience so good? Likewise, what digital experiences have you had as a customer that have made you turn the other way? Put yourself in the shoes of the customer and re-asses your priorities.
4. Be aligned in your approach
Internal buy-in is crucial to any digital transformation strategy, and making sure your tech matches up with other marketing activities also matters. Securing alignment in your approach gives you the space to focus on incorporating that human connection. Stakeholders need to understand the importance of creating an experience that is driven by people, and assisted by technology.
5. Don’t forget to listen
42% of companies don’t listen to their customers, and those in that bracket are missing out on some priceless pointers. You can create what you think is the ultimate AI integration, but if your customers don’t want it or don’t find it useful, it will be a pointless waste of precious budget. Instead, ask your customers what they want, what is and isn’t working, and what you can do better.
Of course, the importance of customer experience isn’t new – but the tools we can access to improve it, are. By going back to basics, marketers can ensure that their digital transformations are people-led, and customer focussed.
If you’d like to find out more about digital transformation or would like to learn how LEWIS can help you achieve your business goals, get in touch.