Technology can improve customer experience of brands

19 September 2019 5 min. read
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Customer experience is rapidly growing into one of the most strategic priorities for executives across all sectors, amid changing consumer behaviour and the rise of the 24/7 economy. Steve Williamson, Vice President at Acquia, shares how technology can help marketers enhance, streamline and optimise the customer experience offered by their brands.

Never before have our expectations of technology been so high. From TVs we can control with our voices to phones that recognise our faces with a single glance, the bar has been raised, both for consumers who have high expectations but also from brands expected to deliver on these new technological promises. 

But with new technology comes increased customer expectations, and brands are trying to figure out how to keep up. The key to gaining market share lies in improving the customer experience (CX). In fact, CX is now central to retaining sustained custom due to the need to satisfy the increased expectations of the modern customer. 

In a survey of 1,000 UK-based consumers and 100 UK-based marketers, Acquia discovered that 92% of consumers now expect a convenient experience when they engage with businesses online, and that if this doesn’t happen the first time, they will look elsewhere. Such are these expectations, that 71% said they would use a competitor if their online experience was poor. 

Customer experience is now central to business

The research revealed a staggering difference between a customer experience of a brand’s CX and a marketer’s perception of it. With almost nine out of ten marketers asked feeling confident they were delivering the CX their customers expected – despite more than half of customers asked claiming that brands failed to make the grade online. Concerningly, a massive 66% of consumers could not even remember one brand that had actually surpassed their expectations.

Solving the problem with technology

So, what’s the issue? As the initial boom has passed, we are left in a curious place technology-wise. We already have the fundamental infrastructure and a solid understanding of what can be achieved, and technology has become ingrained in our everyday routines and offered innovative ways of trading. However, as time progresses, we are moving into a new era: a period of refinement.

Alongside the Internet, the development of the Internet of Things (IoT) is continuing to offer companies a better means of engagement with consumers through tools such as smart speakers, sensors and scanners. Voice technology and facial recognition have also been adopted by enterprises in their CX. 

Brands recognise that technology can aid their CX strategy, but many businesses are perplexed by the hundreds of solutions available to them. Arguably the most critical barrier of all is finding a way to integrate new services with current legacy hardware, software and applications that organizations have already substantially invested in.

Regardless of these investments, businesses often face the impossible task of bringing diverse technological products together to form a unified solution. According to Acquia’s study, 84% of marketers sought to make multiple technologies work together, but were unable to actually make it happen.

Marketers are now left with one option: to streamline their approach by going open source. Why? Open source gives businesses the opportunity to optimise their CX, and to tweak and enhance it in response to customer feedback, which according to the Acquia survey, is vital to a brand’s success. Open source allows businesses to provide customers with an endless world of online experiences. But perhaps most importantly, they seamlessly work together and will always continue to do so.

“There has never been a larger range of digital options available to brands to help make their CX more streamlined and personal.”

Providing the CX that customers expect

Open source has developed from a collaboration that continuously produces elements needed to resolve problems faced by businesses and customers alike. Through a ‘pick and mix’ style integration that can generate your own distinctively personalised CX whenever customers encounter you online, brands are guaranteed to be providing the type of user experience that will bring customers back, time and time again.

It is possible to run versions of open source which directly deliver content to smart devices such as speakers or watches. As well as this, companies can integrate CX-optimising modules that are customer-facing into a content management system (CMS). This includes mobile optimisation and social media integration. Businesses can also include a variety of elements designed for the back office into the same CMS, for example, single sign on, real-time reporting, and best-in-class analytics.

Large-scale open source solutions are maintained by an extensive group of diverse and eager developers, users and supporters, who will usually interact through forums and elsewhere. If businesses ever have a query or question, there will always be someone keen to help – potentially for nothing!

One thing is immensely clear from the study – marketers need to keep up with consumer expectations or run the risk of losing them to another brand. 

There has never been a larger range of options available to brands to help make their CX more streamlined and personal. Marketers should look for a platform that provides the opportunity to integrate the necessary elements in a modular way. Their digital platforms must be effective and appropriate, but most importantly, they must be able to accommodate the continuous advancement of the tech-driven, global marketplace. To achieve this, marketers need open source.