Adobe Experience Forum reveals how digital transformation is shaping the customer experience


Optimising the customer experience is the top opportunity for marketers in the year ahead, according to Adobe’s Digital Trends 2018 report.

Presenting the results at Adobe’s Experience Forum this week, Sean Donnelly, analyst at Econsultancy, revealed 19% of the 12,795 marketers surveyed by Adobe, prioritized the customer experience; equivalent to 2,400 decision makers across EMEA, North America and Asia Pacific.

Data and content were ranked as second and third biggest opportunities respectively.

Donnelly advised delegates that customer experience was not the same thing as brand, however.

“Experience is measured by emotion,” he claimed, and presented Daniel Kahneman’s two systems in human decision making.

System one is fast, unconscious, emotionally-led and error prone. System two is more reliable, complex, conscious, effortful and slow but 95% of decisions are driven by System one.

Donnelly emphasized the role of content and data in forging customer relationships and suggested trust in traditional advertising has diminished and more human contact was required in marketing activity going forward.

Digital is winning traction within marketing: Adobe’s survey found digital has permeated most of the marketing activities of 45% of respondents, Donnelly revealed; but there should be no distinction between traditional and digital marketing, he advised.

Instead, marketers should adopt an M3, modern marketing model; which melds classic and digital marketing techniques across customer insights, segmentation and targeting, customer experience and content.

Donnelly urged delegates to focus their marketing departments on the customer journey and reported that 74% do take a cross team approach but only 56% say they have the tools they require and just half (50%) have well defined customer journeys.

Donnelly highlighted the importance of focusing on content and experience management especially in relation to customer reviews.

“Reviews are usually left when you have had an issue that’s unable to be resolved,” he said; and stressed reviews fell into the marketing category versus customer service.

“People trust reviews more than advertising collateral,” he explained.

Adobe found the majority of marketers – 82% – were looking to take content creation in-house and those that have were 30% more likely to have exceeded their business goals. Design driven companies also outperform, he added.

With GDPR on the very near horizon, data is going to become key, said Donnelly and he showcased the surge in the number of people who had a job title of data officer between 2016 and 2018.

AI is already winning widespread adoption too, Adobe’s survey found. “It will be mainstream soon and permeate all aspects of marketing,” Donnelly told delegates.

Among those businesses already adopting AI, it is being used for data analytics and email marketing. KLM, for example, is experimenting with AI via its 250 customer service agents with 50% of the team’s responses now supported by AI, Donnelly revealed.

Santander invests in digital

Santander has invested in Adobe Analytics across its digital channels – one third of its 14m customers deal with the bank online or through its mobile app – to enhance its day to day interactions with customers and make better use of data.

According to James Birchall, manager, digital analytics, Santander, digital provides more opportunities to empower the business. “Three years ago the outlook was bleak for digital analytics,” Birchall said. Santander had limited data availability, ‘lifeless tables’ versus insights and lots of gaps in understanding the customer experience, Birchall said.

Now it is armed with facts rather than opinions and can better allocate investment and focus on meaningful change.

Birchall reported Santander’s digital analytics team was supported by five pillars: implementation, reporting, insights, training and consultancy and he shared the team’s USPs. These included developing specialists in something analytics related as well as specialists in certain areas of the business such as current accounts; sharing pieces of insight on a weekly basis and networking.

Since investing in analytics three years ago, Santander now has 100+ users of Adobe Analytics and 300+ have been trained in two years. The bank can now track customer journeys to help incident resolution and can optimise performance based on data-driven tests. It provides 70 curated workspaces to make the intelligence easily accessible and is able to unlock opportunities more often such as monitoring usage of in-branch tablets; which were previously not tracked or measured. Santander can now connect data sources and better analyze the data through insights, Birchall said.

Boden delivers digital brand experiences

Phil Lewis, director of digital at Boden, presented the brand’s digital transformation. Lewis told delegates the company is investing to grow and move from being a UK-focused catalogue company to a global, multi-channel retailer. Established in 1991, Boden has 1.8m customers and trades across 60 countries. It generates 95% of sales from its website and has just opened its first UK retail store.

Lewis told delegates digital transformation spanned people, processes and tools and was geared to delivering digital flagship brand experiences, enhanced merchandising capabilities and better understanding of customers in order to tailor experiences.

While there is a trend to frictionless digital experiences, Lewis suggested there was a danger of the brand losing its personality. A website, without its header board branding could be indistinguishable, he suggested.

Instead, Boden has adopted a back to basics digital approach, spanning a cross functional team, which was challenged to highlight the differences between Boden and other brand sites and create new brand experiences and ideas.

Lewis also challenged the increasingly accepted view of designing for mobile first, versus desktop. “There is the technology to do both, so take both and design for both,” he said.

Lewis advised delegates to focus on what is clear and important, to simplify, identify core differentiation and encourage a no ‘right first time’ approach.

According to Lewis, this strategy enables brands to leapfrog the competition but stressed the battle for success was ‘in the top of the funnel’ ie battling for conversation.

“Customers don’t come back for the best check out experience on the planet but they might leave you for it,” he said. “Delivering a good experience is more than just delivering good content.”

Lewis also advised to design content for customers versus pages and the need to implement an agile culture. “You need engagement, you need a change in skills and you need to start small and create momentum,” he concluded.

Digital masters grow revenue, says Microsoft

Hazel Nash, director business applications at Microsoft, showed how IT is playing an increasingly important role in driving digital change.

Nash said organisational change brings fear and stress for both business leaders and employees but a co-creation approach to digital transformation proved to be more responsive. “Employees need to buy into digital transformation strategy,” she said.

Microsoft’s digital transformation survey highlighted the importance of evolution and found 75% of respondents think leaders have to keep pace with change. However, resource constraints can inhibit creation of an agile digital culture, Nash added.

Digital masters, meanwhile, were more likely to increase revenues, profitability and market value.

Nash urged delegates to realise the value of every interaction with a customer and adopt a three-pronged approach:

  • Find new ways of working
  • Make moments matter
  • Monetize every customer interaction

Presenting case study examples, Nash showed how brands including BA and M&S had harnessed new ways of working such as social platforms where they can share and collaborate on ideas.

Marston’s and Metro Bank, meanwhile, are making moments matter by looking at the customer lifecycle and keeping customers loyal; while Virgin Atlantic, Heineken and Real Madrid have successfully created fans and advocates for their brands.

Just Giving and Spotify are monetizing customer interactions by harnessing data; which has changed their businesses.

The goal for all of these brands has been to create and deliver personalized and measurable customer experiences, said Nash.