Albert Nel [featured image] is the vice president, APAC at OpenText. Here, he describes the role of data in the customer journey.
The customer experience has been focused on digital for the last few years and that’s only been supercharged by the pandemic. A perfect storm of new technology, hybrid and remote work and social isolation has pushed digital engagement to the forefront of the customer experience. In fact, digital is now the best, and in some cases the only, way to reach new and existing customers.
Those customers are demanding personalised, seamless digital experiences. This personalisation is now the gold standard that companies must meet to respond to rapidly evolving customer needs.
According to Forrester, up to 80 per cent of buying decisions are made before a customer even speaks to an account executive or salesperson. Instead, those customers are doing their own research online to inform their buying decisions. Customers expect to be able to visit a website, download an app or read a blog or whitepaper before making a buying decision. They’re also interacting with other existing and potential clients through online forums to get their head around your solution or service.
Customers also expect to be able to “try before you buy.” This could be a demo of software, an app or another digital service, or even reading the first chapter of a book. Or they might want to hear a song off an album they are interested in before committing to the purchase. And these expectations are only going to increase as we continue to practise social distancing and prioritise digital interactions.
So how should organisations respond to these demands? It’s important to provide customers with the right information at the right time, all delivered through the channel they like best. Doing this means having a digital platform capable of personalisation, one that will delight customers all the way through their buying journey.
Success depends on delivering a great customer journey
With this in mind, the question that needs to be asked is how will a digital platform benefit its customers?
Take, for example, a customer that has just experienced a cyberattack. In the aftermath they might attend a digital event and listen to an online keynote talking about the very problems they just experienced.
From there, the customer might sign up to your digital community where they can read a blog post or whitepaper, watch a webinar or request a demo.
Once they’ve done that, the customer might want to attend a workshop or talk to one of your engineers. Or they might want to interact with your other customers who have had similar problems, purchase a new product or extend the license on an existing product.
With a digital platform, this entire journey can happen securely and seamlessly online.
And that’s just for business to business (B2B) customers. For consumers, being in lockdown has forced them to go online in numbers never seen before. This means that a digital environment that is seamless is your number one priority for consumers. A digital platform gives you the ability to offer a customised, personalised experience that exists across multiple channels and touchpoints. From the web, to email to mobile apps, your digital platform needs to recognise your customers, and offer them an experience tailored specifically for them.
An online bookseller, for example, will be able to offer recommendations based on the customer’s previous purchases. That bookseller will also be in the position to let a customer read the first chapter of a book, as well as provide online reviews and comments, where customers can interact with one another. All this is designed to maintain customer engagement, and to anticipate their needs – even before the customer realises what they want.
Information powers digital experiences
If you want the customer journey to end in a sale, you need good information management. Without this, you won’t be able to derive the insights you need to provide an end-to-end digital platform offering the services and benefits that we have discussed.
The technology that powers these data insights is based on analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). Using this tech will give you a 360-degree view of the customer and will enable you to provide the personalised experience customers now demand.
A digital platform approach based on analytics, ML and AI will give you visibility into what customers are looking for – often before they realise it themselves. It will also give you the ability to participate in the “experience economy”, converting consumers and workers into brand ambassadors for the company, its products and services.
Information is power. Organisations need to harness their information to drive loyalty and revenue. And the only way to do that is through a powerful digital experience platform.