Welcome to the Experience wave

Chitra Narayanan March 23 | Updated on January 20, 2018

tesla donuts

tesla model x adobe

At the Adobe Summit, the central message to digital marketers is to focus on delivering great customer experiences

A sleek black Tesla car glides noiselessly onto the mammoth stage where David Nuescheler, Vice-President of Experience Technology, Adobe, is demonstrating to an audience of 10,000 digital media professionals how they can seamlessly order Dunkin Donuts from any device. And, of course, the car is another connected device so Nuescheler hops into it and completes the Donut order using the car display screen – all in a matter of a few minutes. He gets out of the car waving a Donut box and munching one.

The slick show on the stage just showcases what Adobe President and CEO Shantanu Narayen had said a little while earlier as he threw the annual Adobe Summit open. “Welcome to the Experience Era. We are in the business of selling digital experiences.”

“A digital experience,” he pointed out, “can take you to a magical place in the real world. Imagine how with a little phone and a bit of augmented reality, clickable buyable items are at your finger tips, transforming the shopping experience.”

Narayen urged businesses to reimagine their interactions with customers and let experiences shape the connection. But he said the challenge is that consumers today have hyper-elevated expectations.

The Third Wave

“Customer expectations will double every 18 months. What was five-star will become one star very soon,” said Brad Rencher, EVP, digital marketing at Adobe.

Also, with the proliferation of devices and the Internet of Things, the challenge before marketers is how to deliver experiences that are continuous, consistent and compelling.

To meet these expectations and challenges, companies will need to transform, pointed out Rencher. Today, we are seeing the start of the third wave of business transformation he said. The first wave was the Back Office wave when companies put in ERP systems to bring in operational efficiencies. The second wave was a Front Office wave when companies invested in CRM solutions that made sales processes efficient.

Now, we are in the third wave, the experience business wave. The difference this time is that it is not about us (the company), said Rencher, but about the consumer. “It is about goosebumps, smiles and bringing people closer together.”

The four rules of delivering great experience is to 1) know and respect your audience 2) speak in one voice 3) make technology transparent 4) delight the customer.

Shantanu Narayen also pointed out that great experiences begin with great content that forces people to take action. The velocity with which businesses need to deliver this content has to be accelerated. Great experiences are also powered by data, and finding a pattern in the data.

Brands such as McDonalds, Royal Bank of Scotland and Comedy Central are all in the midst of this transformation trying to provide powerful experiences.

The brand stories

For Big Mac, it’s been an 18 month journey of transformation. McDonald's CMO Deborah Wahl described how18 months ago, McDonald’s had zero digital interaction with customers. “We did not even have an app, and we looked at response time in hours.”

From mass discussion today the company has moved to mass personalisation, doing a lot of listening on social media. “We have a mention in the social space every one-and-a-half seconds,” said Wahl, saying that the company currently manages to respond to about 10 per cent of those mentions.

With 26 million daily customers in the US alone, how do you drive change Big Mac scale? The answer, according to Wahl, lay in listening to the customer. “Listening taught us that people wanted offers. So we gave them offers.” Wahl also said there are a lot of shiny new toys in digital but the company resisted the temptation to try these. “We decided to step back and focus on what the customer wants. And in doing little things. There is so much incremental power in little things.”

Giles Richardson, head of digital analytics at the Royal Bank of Scotland echoed Wahl saying that prioritisation was key when embarking on a transformation journey. Investing in analytics and data gave the bank a lot to work with. “But data is only a side show. We needed a vision,” said Richardson.

So the way RBS transformed was by taking a lead from the music industry. Music DJs listen to what people want and keep changing the beats. So RBS set about creating DJs. “Our general managers became superstar DJs and we set up digital teams that were journey managers,” said Richardson. The bank democratised the data and set up 110 live data dashboards that the superstar DJs could tune into and begin optimisation. In terms of delivering a powerful customer experience (and it has the queen as its customer, mind you), RBS has now started hitting the right note.

Published on March 23, 2016

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