With consumers now demanding an enhanced digital experience more than ever, Lynne Capozzi, CMO at Acquia, looks at how marketers can operate in the modern climate.
One of the great things about technology is that it has raised all of our expectations. Once upon a time, people worried that controlling their television with a remote would make them lazy. Now, we don’t even have to find the remote. We just talk to the TV – literally. We access hundreds of goods and services easily, without leaving the comfort of our chairs: we download games, order the supermarket shop, watch films and read books online. It really is a brave new world.
But with new worlds come new challenges, and the challenge of the new, tech-driven, marketplace is to make your business stand out in a global crowd. Of all the businesses in all the world, why should your customers choose (and stick with) you?
Lots of people will tell you that the key to gaining market share lies in improving the customer experience (CX). And they’ll be right. A combination of the need to impress and increased customer expectations have combined to make CX fundamental to gaining and retaining custom.
New research from Acquia, who surveyed 1,000 UK-based consumers and 100 UK-based marketers, found that 92% of consumers expect a convenient experience when they engage with businesses online, and that if this doesn’t happen, if the brand doesn’t provide a good CX first time, they will simply go elsewhere. Some 71% said they would use a competitor if their online experience was poor.
What is more, the research uncovered a huge gap between marketers’ perceptions of their brand’s CX and customers’ actual experiences of it. Of UK marketers surveyed, almost nine out of ten felt confident they were delivering the CX their customers expected – but when the customers were questioned, more than half said brands failed to make the grade online, and a striking 66% of consumers could not think of a single brand that had exceeded their expectations.
What is going wrong?
The open source solution
We are in an interesting historical period, technology-wise. The initial boom, when technology became an established part of our lives and offered new and exciting ways of trading, has abated. We have the underlying infrastructure and a good understanding of what might be possible: now we are in a period of refinement.
As well as the Internet, we are developing the Internet of Things (IoT) and accessing it via smart devices like speakers, sensors and scanners – for many enterprises, this offers a whole new route to market and means of engagement with customers. Many companies are exploring the use of voice technology and biometrics, such as facial recognition, in their CX.
Brands know what they want to achieve through their CX, and they know technology can help them do it. But many businesses are confused by the hundreds of solutions available, and most crucially of all, every time a new innovation or service appears they have to find a way to integrate it with legacy hardware, software and applications that they’ve already ploughed substantial investment into.
Yet, despite that investment, it can be impossible to bring diverse technology products together and make them work as a single solution. In Acquia’s study, 84% of marketers wanted to make their technologies work together, but simply could not make it happen.
Clearly, it’s time to do some streamlining. It’s time to go open source.
Why? Because open source makes it easier for marketers to optimise the CX – and to tweak and refine it in response to customer feedback, which the results of this survey suggest could be very important. Open source lets businesses provide a world of online experiences. Best of all, they work together seamlessly and fluently and, due to the platform’s very nature, will continue to do so.
Giving customers what they want
The collaboration by which open source develops has generated elements that answer the needs of businesses and customers alike. You can integrate them, ‘pick and mix’ style, to generate your own, distinctive and bespoke CX whenever customers meet you online. Now that is the kind of user experience that will bring customers back, time and again.
For example, you may wish to run versions of open source that deliver content directly to smart devices like watches or speakers. Alongside this, you could integrate customer-facing, CX-optimising modules into your content management system (CMS), including optimisation for mobile, social media integration and fast performance. At the same time, you could add to the same CMS a range of elements designed for the back office, e.g. single sign on, best-in-class analytics and real-time reporting.
The larger open source solutions are supported by a widespread, diverse and enthusiastic group of developers, users and supporters, who often interact through forums and elsewhere. That means whatever your issue or question, there is bound to be somebody out there who can help – possibly for free!
If there is a take-home message from Acquia’s study, it is that marketers and brands are failing to give customers what they want, even without realising it. And those customers will walk away, often the very first time they are disappointed.
Now, more than ever, merchants have a range of options at their fingertips that can make the CX more streamlined, effective and personalised than ever. What merchants need is a platform that allows them to integrate these elements in a modular way, to scale their digital offering appropriately and most importantly of all, to accommodate the as-yet unknown advances of the future. To do that, merchants need open source.
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