Digital experiences are more necessary than ever. Social distancing, remote working and local or national shutdowns have forced customers online and employees apart, requiring businesses and government agencies across the Asia Pacific to accelerate and refocus their digital transformations to satisfy changing customer needs.
To understand the maturity of digital experiences (DX), leading experience design and innovation company AKQA in partnership with Sitecore and research company Ecosystm, interviewed 600 organisations and marketers to release its pivotal 2020 report the Digital Mindset of Business Leaders in Asia Pacific.
To download your copy of the report click here.
But it begs the question, of the often confusing journey, what does DX actually mean and look like these days?
AKQA’s chief strategy officer – the Aussie born, Shanghai-based – Sam Sterling sums things up succinctly.
“DX is the sum of all the digital touch points a consumer has with a brand,” Sterling tells B&T.
“Crucially though, customers seldom evaluate brands on their best touch point, but rather on the worst.
“This means you can have the most popular and engaging Instagram profile in the country, but if your app experience is dismal, that’s what you’ll get graded on,” Sterling adds.
And what’s the must-have asset of a pandemic-stricken marketer these days?
“No one will like this answer, but rigour,” Sterling declares.
“To be successful brands and businesses need to have good foundations.
“Now is absolutely the time to innovate, get creative, and be agile in response to evolving market conditions. It is not the time for throwing form out the window,” Sterling reveals.
At 38-pages long, AKQA’s The Digital Mindset of Business Leaders in Asia Pacific key takeouts include:
Executives should drive the vision: Senior managers need to be behind your digital transformation and the experiences you offer.
Motivate people and improve processes: While digital experiences take humans out of processes, humans still design, build and manage them.
Deploy a modern marketing technology stack. Automation and personalisation of the entire customer processes using machine learning should be a goal of all digital and customer experience teams.
Drive better decisions from all available data. Start by analysing the data that is readily accessible in your DXP. Then move on to unifying data across all touchpoints – digital and physical world. Plus, complement internal data with external data sets that add value and insight.
Optimise experiences and make them personal. Optimised experiences are efficient, but personal experiences are ones that drive loyalty and trust. Build an ability to personalise experiences for your customers based on their needs and desires.
Digital maturity drives better customer experiences. Business leaders across every country that were surveyed discussed the changing customer environment. The lock downs – caused by the global pandemic – shifted customers from in-person towards digital experiences. In 2019, nearly 60 per cent of organisations we interviewed had in-person interactions in stores or customer service centres. Today that number has halved to 30 per cent. Digital channels including websites (85 per cent of businesses), EDMs and SMS (63 per cent), social media (59 per cent) and mobile applications (45 per cent) have all witnessed substantial growth.
AKQA’s report noted: “In 2021 the difference between surviving and thriving will be great and memorable digital experiences.”
But in solving the immediate challenge of delivering great digital experiences, many leaders also started looking ahead to a time when customers return to stores or service centres and when the contact centre returns to full capacity.
Just providing a good digital experience isn’t sufficient. Integrating that digital experience with in-person or human interactions will be core to providing a satisfying and memorable customer experience – one that drives return visits and advocacy.
Arguably the biggest problem for CMOs these days is keeping abreast with the staggering array of martech options available to them.
According to AKQA’s technical executive, Eric Orton, keeping up with and making the right technology decisions is one of the biggest challenges facing marketing teams today.
“As customer expectations continue changing, we see lots of marketing teams struggling to make the right technology choices to respond,” Orton tells B&T.
“This is made harder by technology vendors putting themselves forward as the one solution regardless of the problem, and not being able to connect the technology capability to marketing outcomes.
“[At AKQA] we spend a lot of time helping customers make the right martech decisions by starting with the experience they are trying to create for their customer. Once that’s understood it’s easier to understand the right technology solutions needed to deliver the customer experience,” Orton says.
“Not that marketers should be wholly reliant on tech platforms.
“We believe strongly in the balance of art and science in our work.
“It can be easy to fall into the science and process of creating a digital experience leaving you with a generic outcome.
“The experiences from a company like Apple are fantastic, but they’re completely wrong for somebody like a hardware retailer, even if they both feature online sales and service.
“A strong creative balance is essential to ensure your digital experiences created are strongly rooted in the culture of your customers and tells your brand’s story properly in the moment,” Orton concludes.
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