Customer experience has been the talk of 2018, as brands and marketers begin to redefine the customer journey, and how they interact with customers in the digital age. The goal is to make processes simpler for customers. But behind the scenes, orchestrating those efforts — and all the factors that go into personalization — can often be difficult for marketers to get off the ground efficiently.
Digital experience company Acquia unveiled new research (in partnership with Regina Corso Consulting) at Acquia Engage 2018 this week that highlights some of the biggest CX challenges marketers face today. The report, titled “Closing the CX Gap: Customer Experience Trends Report 2019” looks at feedback from roughly 5,000 consumers and 500 marketers from five countries (Australia, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States).
Here are some of the biggest takeaways:
The CX disconnect
Acquia research found that 87 percent of marketers surveyed believed their brands were hitting the mark when it came to delivering positive customer experiences. But consumer outlooks revealed a completely different narrative. On average, 66 percent of global consumers said they “don’t remember the last time a brand exceeded” expectations. When marketers were asked to share their experiences as consumers, the sentiment was similar — 79 percent said they “didn’t feel like an individual” when they interacted as shoppers.
“Most of us have likely heard the adage ‘doctors make the worst patients,” the report states. “Well, it turns out the same can be said of marketers. Based on our findings, marketers are often tougher on brands than consumers.”
It makes sense for marketers to hold higher standards, but as Acquia findings show, there’s clearly a disconnect when it comes to self-evaluation, too. The solution, Acquia suggests, is tapping data to develop a 360-view of the customer, and building the right team to drive meaningful engagement.
Building the right tech stack
Easier said than done, of course. During the opening keynote at Acquia Engage on Thursday, CEO Mike Sullivan examined one of the biggest CX challenges — building the right tech stack to support marketing goals. There are a lot of working parts to personalization, and what seems like an exponential number of martech solutions to support it.
“The pace of fragmentation is rapidly outpacing the rate of the consolidation in the martech space,” Sullivan said. There are nearly 7,000 solutions on the market today, and marketers need to make sense of which ones will make the most impact. This can often be confusing — according to Acquia, nearly 75 percent of marketers found that tech often make personalization more difficult, due to siloed or disparate environments. Sullivan advocated for an open source approach (or, getting out from under the platform “umbrella”) which he says gives marketers the freedom to implement more customized solutions based on targeted needs. Vendors need to be vetted, and chosen based on their ability to address precise pain points, which can vary from brand to brand.
“[Acquia] customers want the best experts matched up with the best technology, because that’s what produces the best experiences,” Sullivan said.
Data governance and consumer loyalty
GDPR, the CCPA, and multiple data privacy scandals thrust data privacy into the spotlight throughout 2018. Consumers are more aware of how companies use their data, and have higher expectations for how brands keep their information safe.
Acquia found yet another disconnect between how consumers view data usage. Seventy-nine percent of consumer respondents said that brands “shouldn’t be able to use data” to market to them. But at the same time, 78 percent also said they would be more loyal to a “brand that’s showed they really understand” them.
For marketers, that’s a headache. Data is necessary to provide personalization and build experiences that will foster loyalty. Marketers dance a fine line, but to succeed, Acquia suggests, brands need to exercise a balance of honest communications with transparency and diligent data governance.
“[It’s] all abut the data,” Sullivan said. Brands that “are accessing the data, and executing on this well,” are the ones that succeed.
Understanding and embracing emerging CX trends
Having some foresight into emerging trends can also help when selecting the right personalization tools. Acquia research found that AI, IoT, and voice/conversational commerce were all top-of-mind for marketers. According to the report, 75 percent of marketers said voice will be a part of their strategy in 2019 — a telling sign for the future of voice in months to come.
“The thing that’s interesting about these trends…I think we’re still in the early ages,” Sullivan said.
Stay tuned for more Acquia Engage 2018 insights on how brands are overcoming modern CX challenges today.