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Getting Inside the digital customer journey

By Marcus Lambert

We are living in the age of digital disruption. For many, the transformation from the old way of doing things to more productive and efficient methods already feels like a very long roller coaster ride.

The lines between our virtual and physical lives have become increasingly blurry. Yet, it still feels as if we live two very different lifestyles – at work and home. For example, our homes are starting to fill with IoT devices and services, such as Amazon Echo, complementing our increasingly sophisticated tech setup. However, in the workplace, many continue to struggle to access, let alone adapt to this alternate universe, as they’re still surrounded by slow Windows 7 PCs, legacy applications, and resistance to change from their colleagues.

In the words of Bob Dylan “We All Gotta Serve Somebody,” and it’s time to look at how digital can play a part in understanding the customer journey.

The most significant challenge for businesses, is that the mobile-first world is already here. As consumers, we unconsciously behave very differently on smartphones, compared with traditional computers. As we drift seamlessly from device to device, it is increasingly critical that we receive the right message, at precisely the right time, wherever we are.

Businesses have been trying to understand the complex puzzle of the customer journey for many years. However, all too frequently today, they fail to recognise how uttelry different things are, when we hold a smartphone. Thanks to Uber, Netflix, Spotify, Amazon, Airbnb and co… our expectation level is now set to ‘Instant Gratification’ by default.

In addition, how we respond to any notification continues to depend in large part on our location, mindset, mood – and a wide range of human auto-responses and emotions. Despite the self-realisation we attach as consumers, many organisations continue to obsess over visitor’s page views and clicks?

There’s a Californian gold rush to leverage massive data, using machine learning and artificial intelligence. Digital is about to provide the answers to what a customer wants and needs, in real-time through personalised and engaging experiences.

Last week in Last Vegas, Adobe dedicated the world’s largest digital marketing conference to messaging twelve thousand attendees, and thousands more watching online, how they are leading the way ,in the experience business.

With no expense spared, guests including Saturday Night Live’s Kate McKinnon, Super Bowl MVP Peyton Manning, and even Hollywood’s Ryan Gosling hammered home the importance of experiences in the customer journey. Tech giants Facebook, Intel and Microsoft joined the NBA, National Geographic, and T-Mobile on stage. And all shared remarkably similar stories of how they’ve powered through the daunting digital transformation, to become leaders in delivering mobile experiences to their audiences.

As users we have little interest in the time and resources it takes to deliver everything we want across multiple screens, devices, and channels. Regardless, this unprecedented level of customer demand is forcing businesses to investigate how technology can help quench our insatiable thirst for whatever we want – but not necessarily what we need.

The direction forward became crystal clear, when Adobe also announced an open industry standard for marketing, sales, and services with Microsoft. The creation of an ‘everything under one roof’ solution enabling companies to transform as painlessly as possible, but at a manageable digital cost.

As a result, we can expect a wave of enterprises, all promising similar solutions and all tagged with industry buzzwords such as ‘Real-time personalised customer experiences’ that will undoubtedly cover every conceivable customer touch point.

However, Evergage CEO Karl Wirth believes that there is a mismatch between hype and reality. He warned about the dangers of ‘next time personalisation’ which is, in reality what many of the solutions are providing. The problem with receiving a personalised response to something you wanted yesterday is that it is of no competitive use to anybody.

It seems that, just as leaders thought they had correctly mapped the customer journey, the rules have completely changed. For any organisation to appear relevant in the eyes of the impatient mobile user, they have one shot to tailor-make their message. Any misfire will be deemed either too intrusive or simply another spam message.

Despite the negativity of mainstream media – whose own digital take up ends with the attachment of your or my name to the message header of their latest inflammatory piece – rather than being fearful of a future dominated by technology, I am excited by the speed of progress that AI has already achieved. And the opportunities and potential that will come from more personal digital experiences.

Does the promotion of personalised digital experiences excite or concern you?

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