Forrester analyst Ted Schadler, who led the study, concludes that “digital customer experiences are half of what it means to be a digital business. The other half is digital operational excellence.”
Schadler, along with analysts Stephen Powers, Deanna Laufer, Kevin Driscoll and Peter Harrison, cite several research studies, including a 2014 survey of 1,821 business and technology leaders. Their conclusions: The top three investments firms make in customer experiences are all in digital customer experiences.
Companies that want to improve customer experience will increasingly rely on technology to close gaps in performance, convenience, personalization and trust, the analysts stated.
Define Your Strategy
The report suggests that creating a digital experience strategy is an essential first step. This strategy shapes the technology you need — “an investment that can take five years and cost between $20 million and $200 million.” To help define the strategy, application development and delivery (AD&D):
Understand your business and brand objectives. Virgin America, for example, decided it wanted to increase conversions through mobile engagement when it restructured its website. It “updated its technical infrastructure, committed senior staff resources, partnered with digital agency Work & Co, brought the brand into better alignment across channels, and created a customer-centered experience that introduces fun to the staid world of online ticket purchases.” In other words, go beyond surface-level changes to reach your its goal through “disciplined simplification.”
Identify customers’ digital interactions and devices. Strive for as much detail as possible, including a specific customer’s goals, context, motivations, and interactions. Make your research comprehensive enough to cover your major customer journeys in every phase of their life cycles.
Invest in digital experiences that benefit your customers and your business. Firms that prioritize improving the customer experience are improving the call center experience or adding mobile customer experiences to meet people where they are.
4 Factors Focus Strategy
Forrester analysts interviewed technology executives and their marketing and business counterparts in eight enterprises, along with 13 software vendors, digital agencies, and systems integrators.
It’s a digital experience program, not a web or mobile technology project: They concluded the most sophisticated companies are using their corporate budgets to fund three- to five-year programs. It’s about a meaningful strategy and commitment rather than disconnected experiences and one-time projects, they note.
In hurrying to roll out its mobile functions, Air Canada failed to integrate its mobile app with web. So customers would book flights on the mobile app but not be able to make changes from web bookings via mobile.
Customer journey maps bring relevancy to your investments. You have to understand the specific devices, touchpoints and interactions that resonate with your customers.
Four technology inevitabilities shape your vendor choices. The terms to remember: cloud-hosted, mobile-first, insights-driven and loosely coupled.
Digital experience platforms direct your technology investments. Analysts say the best platforms to invest in are software to support marketing, commerce and customer service on smartphones, tablets, PCs and any screens where they might interact.
The bottom line: optimize the use of digital tools and technologies to take your customer experience to the next level. It’s a new business imperative.
If you want more information, Acquia, one of the companies interviewed for the report, is making it available for download (registration required).