Brands: Compete on Experience

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Kristine Stebbins, Hero's managing director, took it to a more granular level. Customer experience strategy is based on mapping journeys for personas. “Personas are data-driven, based on a variety of inputs,” to which Episerver contributes “behavioral data and interaction data, which we can meld with Google Analytics, and enrich with sales information, and data from CRM or other systems.”

“It's very important for us to be platform agnostic,” emphasized Kilimnik, “so that we can be trusted advisers. We get engaged for platform selection as consultants, and that's ideal for us. We want to be involved with a customer before they've made technology decisions. Our goal is to get Epi introduced when we believe the fit is strong.” 

Perhaps surprisingly, Norwood sees technology as often being an obstacle to brands creating valuable bonds with customers. "The ability to retire technical debt and put things together seamlessly is where the focus needs to be. If there's a siloed organization with siloed applications behind the scene's, that's where the focus needs to be. Again, Episerver is not here to solve all problems, but one platform which solves specific problems and can tie into other things, can take out maybe 10 or 15 other point solutions. I'm starting to see a shift going back the other way, with IT being more involved in the game. The best customers we have, it's with the CMO and the CIO in lock-step."

The elephant in the room

When it comes to commerce, there's surely another major motivational factor driving all this talk of customer experience, forming bonds with brands, and indeed the whole direct-to-consumer trend. It's called Amazon. Selling products and services through Amazon, or indeed other third party market-places, is one thing. CX is something else.

"The vast majority of Episerver customers are going to be brand manufacturers or midmarket retailers, where the only way to differentiate is through the things Amazon doesn't do. It's very important, because most of our customers are looking to grow online to supplement their current business, or replace current brick and mortar, and they're going to want to do it in a way that keeps them away from Amazon."

The reality is that Amazon and Google aren't going anywhere. "I think Episerver customers can co-exist and do pretty well," said Norwood, "because they can be a bit more agile, a bit more nimble. That's really our niche; we play well with rapidly growing, mid-sized folks, who are being a little bit disruptive.

More to come on platform/product, B2B, and the customer voice.

Episerver covered DMN's expenses to attend Ascend 2018. 

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