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How Dell Put Testing at the Core of Its Digital Experiences

5 minute read
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CMSWire caught up with Vab Dwivedi, director of design analytics at Dell, to understand how they work to keep Dell a leader in digital customer experience.

Vab Dwivedi is laser-focused on the product development roadmap for all of Dell.com’s digital applications. He was part of the team that transformed the A/B testing program from a small operation to a global IT experimentation product team. And it's not just about testing buttons here and there. "We don't use WYSIWYG platforms, and we're not just testing button colors," Dwivedi, the director of design analytics at Dell, told CMSWire in a video interview at the DX Summit 2019. "We are building out full scale experiences, testing them in multiple regions, and then using that to help drive the larger roadmap for Dell.com. And all of that has shown the value of what experimentation can really do when you're going through large scale customer-focused transformation."

What Improving CX Means

Why put such an effort into digital customer experience testing like Dell does? It has proven results. According the 2019 Digital Trends Report by Adobe, organizations that classify themselves as “very advanced” at customer experience are almost three times more likely to have accomplished and exceeded their 2018 business goals. Better website experience means a better customer experience. 

Every brand wants to be "customer-centric." The path to get there? Nate Barad, who works in product marketing and strategy for Digital Experience Platform provider Episerver, told CMSWire in a recent interview that a big step toward customer-centricity is helping people provide better customer experiences. 

Scaling Up in Testing, Engineering 

While it sounds simple, it isn't always easy. And Dwivedi and Dell know this well. When Dell decided to zero in on its testing program inside the digital properties of Dell.com, it first needed to scale. A big original challenge was a lack of talent and skills. "We didn't have the ability to do things on a global scale the way we do today," Dwivedi said. "Some of that was just pure headcount. It was a relatively small team. And some of it was just skillset."

The solution? Dell invested in an engineering team that's dedicated specifically to testing. "And with a lot of effort into the development of what they do, we're able to test pretty much anything that we can think up within reason," Dwivedi said. "And that is what really enabled us to show the value of what testing and experimentation could be."

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Need to Be in Sync with Product, Engineering

Working in sync with product and engineering teams is critical for Dwivedi. It's not just the changes his analytics team is introducing. The core product and engineering teams are also changing things in the core applications every day. "So our team has to be really in sync with their roadmaps understanding what's coming," Dwivedi said. "And if anything that they're about to deploy would break a test that we're running then we have to be prepared for that, and we have to go and alter our code because our code lives on top of theirs."

Learning Opportunities

Dwivedi called it a "dynamic environment," one in which there is constant change. And that's even just from a merchandising standpoint with a lot being sold on Dell.com. "It's a huge business," Dwivedi said. "And so it's not just the back end that's changing. It's also the business that's actually running on it so it's very dynamic and requires a lot of process and organization, not to the point where we stifle any creativity or the ability to move quickly, but enough structure around what we're doing to make sure that we don't break anything and risk any kind of customer experience issues."

The World's Largest Startup

That's why communication is so important to him. Dwivedi said the company sometimes jokingly talks about being one of the world's largest startups. Truly, it wants to act startup-ish: be nimble and agile and flexible as it constantly works to improve Dell's digital customer experiences. "When we went private (it's now public again) that was sort of the mantra that we were operating with — that we wanted to be lean and fast and evolve our strategy in that sort of way," Dwivedi said. "But it's still a large organization with a lot of moving parts. And so communication ends up being the most important thing."

With all the changes in technology, sometimes the most effective thing is just picking up the phone and talking to someone, Dwivedi said. What is on your roadmap? What are you about to do and how does that impact what we might have in our plans? "And so those are the types of things that sometimes get overlooked," Dwivedi said. "When we talk about digital transformation everyone's focused on just the technology, and sometimes the simplest things are what provide you the best answers."

Up Next: One-to-One Personalized Experiences

What's the next path forward for those like Dwivedi trying to constantly provide the best digital experiences? Providing what amounts to a one-to-one experience that's personalized. Much personalization today is still "wisdom of the crowd," according to Dwivedi. People who bought this viewed that. 

"And that is certainly very valuable because people do want to know what the wisdom of the crowd is," he said. "But can we get to a place where personalization is to be more real time, and therefore more one-to-one? I think that would be not the holy grail of ecommerce but it would be something that would be very impactful, in terms of coming up with an experience that people are really excited about having."