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Digital is vital to customer experience – but it must be integrated

By Alan Banks, managing director, Northern Europe, Adobe Systems. F

irst came the age of production. Then the age of distribution. Now, we are well and truly immersed in the age of experience. At the recent launch of Adobe Web Experience Management (WEM) Ron Rogowski, principal analyst at Forrester made an interesting point. Ron argued that companies are no longer able to achieve significant competitive advantage through areas like manufacturing or logistics, and are now almost solely reliant on improving customer experience in order to differentiate themselves.

There is a great degree of truth in this

statement and of course, there are still many ways a company can improve customer experience offline, but it’s well recognised today that the digital experience is a fundamental part of boosting customer engagement overall. The Holy Grail for organisations now must be to provide a consistent approach across multichannels ensuring that users get a fantastic experience both on and offline.

Rising expectations

This quote, taken from the UK Government ICT strategy released in January 2010, sums up the situation well: “Citizens and businesses expect the same levels of availability and personalisation that they see from large private sector organisations such as Amazon and Tesco. They expect to be able to access their services from multiple locations – and in ways that suit the user, rather than the provider of services.” The universal truth for private and public sector organisations is that today they are being challenged with ever-increasing customer expectations. Because of the extraordinary access the web provides, customers believe that they should be able to interact with an organisation in any number of ways and at any time – from enrolling for a service via a mobile device, to reaching a service representative via online chat. Expectations are also being raised by tablet-style devices. In the last few years we have seen an explosion in the number of tablets on the market from 2 to over 100 – and there are some really stunning examples out there of the level of rich customer engagement these devices deliver. For example, EMI Music recently launched a new content-rich and interactive digital experience – created with Adobe technology – that brings to life a book and music album launch through a multi-media iPad App that invites fans to flick, swipe, slide and tap their way through a rich audio-visual narrative.

This kind of development is also coming hand-in-hand with the

development of social media as a frontline customer engagement tool. There are many examples you will see on the television today, for instance, where the call to action for an advertising campaign is a Facebook page rather than a website.

Increasingly, we’ll see these successful consumer, multi-device experiences replicated into a B2B environment and also integrated into B2B social media networks. This is all exciting stuff for marketers, and increasingly enticing for consumers. But the question from an IT perspective is whether companies are able to manage these new

experiences and interactions as an integrated whole.

Thinking about customer experience holistically Oganisations need to keep developing innovative interactive solutions on the latest devices. Mobile should be the first consideration when designing new customer experiences, companies must also begin to move away from introducing new services that exist in isolation.

This challenge, of creating meaningful and integrated experiences, is inextricably linked with making good use of technology that already exists within organisations i.e. by getting the most from investment and allowing developers to create content once, then replicate across multiple formats. Social media and tablet devices may be helping companies to deliver faster, richer, more intuitive interactions, but for the most part these social applications are not being integrated with core business processes.

The market is driving towards customer experience management as a fundamental part of business. The vision for the enterprise should revolve around a concept of “customer experience management”. This combines the disciplines of user experience, interaction design, process management, content strategy and customer service into a unified field for web-based customer experiences, be that through the desktop, smartphone or tablet. Users need to find a technology solution that connects a rich user experience with core business processes, content and an enterprise infrastructure.

The bottom line is that delivering a great digital experience to the customer, across multiple channels and through various touch points, will positively impact brand loyalty and ultimately revenue.

For information visit, also visit Adobe at the Experience Delivers Tour 17th May 2011

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