Understanding the customer’s digital experienceSrinivas Bhimavarapu
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Forrester defines digital experience platforms as “software to manage, deliver, and optimize experiences consistently across every digital touchpoint.”
According to a survey conducted by Forrester in Q3 2021 on Digital Platform Experiences, Salesforce was named as a leader in “The Forrester Wave” Report. The key statement in the report says, “Compared with other vendors we evaluated, Salesforce shows strength in search, digital commerce, and platform certifications. It also has strength in testing and optimization, content creation, customer profile and segmentation, and platform operation.”
Salesforce, like most cloud service/SaaS providers, is diligently making incremental improvements to all of its service offerings to help its customers achieve business objectives.
Delivering business-critical customer experiences is key to all business establishments. Furthermore, customer experiences are layered at different levels for different customer interaction phases with service providers. Having just a stack of multiple enterprise applications does not necessarily help to achieve customer expectations and improve or enhance their digital experiences.
There is always a half-hearted approach towards something as important as improving and enhancing customer experiences – by mixing up and associating this problem with difficulties around individual IT platforms and the need to really integrate them, this results in a non-holistic way of looking at digital experiences and transformation strategies.
The global pandemic which hit just as we began this decade has caused us to make significant changes to our business models, customer approach and delivery patterns permanently.
Contact centers which ran at full speed with numerous contact service operators have all been shut down and many organizations are actively moving their workforce to provide remote support with the same vigor.
Although this remote approach comes with a different set of challenges, the need for delivering customer digital experience remains the same or even enhanced as more and more customers (B2C/B2B) are now digitally enabled.
Digital Challenges ahoy…
Many companies realized that managing this remote workforce posed a new daunting challenge that led them to accelerate their digital customer experience services.
Getting to market quickly is essential, and many successful companies use prototyping to test new products or features with consumers to get their reactions. And then make any necessary adjustments to address their expectations and preferences, which adaptability is a key challenge to be addressed.
Customers want companies to treat them as individuals, which means personalization. Traditional segmentation-based personalization often focuses on data points like age, gender, and purchase history.
Plus, too often, personalization only applies to one aspect of the customer experience strategy. A better answer is individualization. This strategy needs to be incorporated into the overall customer experience challenges of digital organizations.
A key misconception is that customer experience management is just a matter of sales and marketing.
In fact, designing excellent customer experiences involves putting the customer at the center of everything you do. And that involves everyone, from the CEO on down.
Creating that customer-first culture means that you act in the customer’s interest first, not your own.
Optimizing Customer Experience (CX)
In today’s digital world, besting the competition increasingly comes down to providing the best experience for the customer. That applies whether you’re operating in the B2C or B2B markets.
New technologies are transforming how customers experience your products and your customer service. Think about conversational technology, like Chatbots, Alexa, and Google Home, along with biometric inputs, like facial recognition and fingerprint scanning, for gaining momentum in optimizing CX.
With all these new tools to play with, the companies that will be most successful are the ones who remember that the focus needs to be on the individual customer and their experience, not the technology. Use technology in service of the end goal of exceeding your customer’s expectations and needs.
The customer experience shouldn’t include so-called dark patterns, tactics that encourage the user to do something they don’t necessarily want to do. Dark patterns include tricks like forced continuity, where the customer signs up for a free trial only to find the subscription automatically renews without permission.
Go for the jugular…
We need a broader strategy for dealing with such an important criterion which fits into overall IT, business services and solution architectures across multiple business and customer-facing systems.
That may boost the bottom line in the short and long-term timelines, but it comes at the cost of customer trust, which is what you need to grow if you want to retain the customer for the long haul.
Another common misconception is that you should focus on optimizing the customer experience in each channel, but what you should really be aiming for is a consistent experience across channels. Design in each individual channel should consider the omnichannel experience and how to synergize between channels.
Good customer experience design can transform the customer journey and digital wayfinding can help guide the customer through that journey. Digital wayfinding will transform the customer journey by embedding technology and interactivity into the customer experience.
Primarily, you want to build a 360-degree view of the customer, including information on their behaviors, affinities, attitudes, sentiments, and life contexts. That data should be collected from across the entire company, drawing from every interaction that your customer has had with you.
And by using a universal identifier for each customer, you can link up that data from all the customer’s interactions with you as a service provider.
Customers will benefit from clear information that is laid out based on this approach. Therefore, you’ll meet your customer’s expectations and avoid the potential reputational losses that come with improper data management within customer service representatives’ systems.
Shaping, Not Dictating, the Customer Experience
Engaging your customer’s emotions is the best way to build a truly memorable customer experience. And the digital world offers new ways to make that happen. The key is to shape rather than prescribe the customer’s experience. By putting the customer in the driver’s seat and allowing them to participate in creating their own experience.
Disney has designed tactile rendering algorithms that add a three-dimensional feel to touchscreen interfaces, so that you can really feel the ridges and bumps in an image, creating a much richer customer experience. Creating interfaces that build themselves as the customer uses them is key to providing the range of choice that allows a unique experience for each individual user.
That means designing algorithms that can mine data and use it to handle any possible choice on the part of the customer, working with live data to alter the experience as needed. For example, several retailers are now experimenting with a “magic mirror” that can show customers how they would look in different clothes, and even change the lighting to help the customer see how each item will appear at different times of day and in different environments.
As Digital Experience Platforms (DXP) become more and more popular due to their relevance in B2C and B2B alike, companies are gearing towards collecting data from diverse channels related to customer data. Customer scenarios, which are persona-based, are a few key options.
Moreover, new digital channels like mobile apps, and social media channels are in the scope of most organizations due to the ever-growing digital customer base in these pandemic times.
The Salesforce cloud is leading from the front in this space with its diverse DXP stack with the industry renowned Salesforce Community Cloud, Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Einstein Analytics and more.
Salesforce, with its enterprise partnerships with IBM, SAP, Google, Workday, and VISA, helps accelerate DXPs to a much higher level. Salesforce positions DXP at the center of its CX strategy due to its prime importance by using different customer-driven APIs to aggregate and orchestrate data to determine and present the right customer experience (CX) every time.
Salesforce is designing rich, intuitive customer experiences with its flagship Customer 360 Journey product, which generates seamless customer experiences with connected experiences across multiple channels and departments.
Salesforce is reinventing digital experiences by unifying Mulesoft’s Anypoint Platform and Salesforce Integration Cloud to achieve much broader connected customer experiences by connecting multiple applications, data, and any device with Mulesoft’s APIs (Application Programming Interface) to unleash the power of Customer 360 on a much wider scale.
Almost every business in every market competes fiercely. Organizations use a variety of strategies to differentiate themselves from the competition, including multi-channel advertising, product innovation, and enhanced business procedures.
When all is said and done, though, it simply isn’t enough. Customer experience has become the most important distinction when it comes to attracting and retaining customers.
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