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Monday, 09 November 2020 17:35

Post-COVID Economic Health Dependent on Delivering Better Customer Experiences: Survey

Tim Sheedy, Ecosystm Principal Advisor and report author. Tim Sheedy, Ecosystm Principal Advisor and report author.

COMPANY NEWS by Sitecore: Australian companies need to urgently improve the digital experiences they offer to customers if they’re to succeed in a post COVID-19 world, according to a new report titled: the Digital Mindset of Business Leaders in Asia Pacific.

Based on a survey of 600 organisations across the Asia-Pacific region conducted by research company, Ecosystm, and commissioned on behalf of digital experience management software company, Sitecore and partner AKQA the report shows there has been a significant shift from in-person to digital customer interactions since the virus appeared. Just 30 per cent of those surveyed reported having in-person interactions with customers while 85 per cent now rely on their website, 63 per cent on EDM campaigns and 59 per cent on social media channels.

The survey also found COVID-related pressures have resulted in a massive 98 per cent of organisations changing their digital strategy this year. Of those interviewed, 25 per cent said they are accelerating their digital transformation strategies while 38 per cent are refocusing their strategy in light of changing customer requirements.

“Suddenly, senior managers and boards of directors are turning their businesses towards digital channels and touch points,” said Ecosystm Principal Advisor and report author Tim Sheedy. 

“To achieve this, businesses need the capability to continually improve current digital experiences and create new ones where they don’t exist. In 2021, the difference between surviving and thriving will be delivering great and memorable digital experiences.”

Of the Australian companies interviewed for the report, 20% said they would put the most emphasis on SMS and email (EDM) customer communications during the coming 12 months. This compares with 15 per cent of all survey respondents across the countries surveyed, including Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and Thailand.

This was followed by call centres (15 per cent in Australia, 8 per cent overall) and websites (13 per cent in Australia, 17 per cent overall). Just 14% said they would be emphasising in-person communication with customers in an office, retail outlet or service centre compared with eight per cent overall.

The report advises that companies looking to improve the maturity of the overall digital experience being offered to customers should focus on five key capabilities. These are:

1.                  Executive leadership: Senior managers need to be behind a digital transformation strategy and the experiences to be offered. They should build a business capable of designing, creating and improving these experiences.

2.                  Motivation: While digital experiences take humans out of processes, humans still design, build and manage them. An organisation needs to create processes and teams to support the continuous improvement of digital experiences.

3.                  Deploy a marketing technology stack: Begin with a Digital Experience Platform (DXP) and then integrate that platform and data across all marketing and customer experience systems and platforms. The automation and personalisation of all customer interactions should be the end goal.

4.                  Make data-driven decisions: Start by analysing the data that is readily accessible in your DXP. Then move on to unifying data across all touchpoints in both the digital and physical worlds.

5.                  Make experiences personal: Optimised experiences are efficient, but personal experiences are ones that drive loyalty and trust. Build an ability to personalise experiences for customers based on their needs and desires.

“Organisations that succeed in mastering these capabilities will be best positioned to deliver the most mature digital experiences for all their customers,” said Tim Sheedy, Principal Advisor, Ecosystm. “They will be able to personalise every interaction and achieve consistent omni-channel experiences.”

The DX Maturity Model

To allow comparison of the progress made by each of the organisations interviewed for the report, the results were entered into a Digital Experience Maturity Model. Developed by Sitecore, the model gives organisations one of five scores:

1.                  Established where there is no personalisation of communication and only a limited number of digital channels are used

2.                  Aligned in which content is created to target the needs of the main customer groupings but there is still no personalisation

3.                  Optimised when customer experience management is seen as a high priority and there has been a shift from gut-level to data-driven decision making

4.                  Nurtured where the customer base has been segmented for personalisation and a culture of experimentation is highly supported

5.                  Individualised  which is the optimal category where every customer interaction is personalised and automated.

Overall, the average DX Maturity Score for interviewed organisations was 2, putting them in the ‘aligned’ category. Of those included in the report, 6% of organisations are in the ‘established’ category, 26 per cent in ‘aligned’, 43 per cent in ‘optimised’, 21 per cent in ‘nurtured’ and just three per cent in ‘individualised’.

Of the Australian organisations included in the report, 78 per cent reached the level of ‘optimised’ while 44% were in the ‘nurtured’ category and 15 per cent in ‘individualised’. This compares with 79 per cent, 47 per cent and 19 per cent in the overall surveyed group.

Regionally, across industry groups, the study found wide variations. Banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) providers demonstrate the highest level of maturity with 36 per cent of respondents achieving 4s and 5s (Nurtured and Individualised) on the DXMM scale, followed by retail (29%), an industry that needed to quickly reinvent to keep up with changing consumption habits. Of the industries, manufacturers and governments have been slower to adopt digital technologies to offer personalised experiences, and have their work cut out for them, with only 21 per cent and 12 per cent of businesses scoring 4s and 5s (Nurtured and Individualised), respectively.

“These results are interesting as they show that, while significant progress has been made, Australian businesses still have much work ahead of them to truly personalise their customer experiences,” says Peter Belton, VP sales Australia and New Zealand, Sitecore.

“In most cases, this work will include the adoption of automation and machine learning as part of the marketing technology stack. While it’s not possible to manually personalise communications when you have large numbers of customers, putting technology into the mix can ensure this is achieved.”

Eric Orton, Executive Technology Director AKQA, ANZ said, “It’s fantastic that so many companies are working to align their digital experiences around their customer needs. Companies who do this well are going further to recognise that customers don’t segment their view of the business by channel, so when considering customer journeys, it’s important to look at the full picture of how your customers are engaging with your business beyond just digital touchpoints. It’s also not a once and done exercise. Strong experience-focused businesses continue to learn and evolve their views of the customer journey as they strive to remove pain points across touchpoints and better engage their customers.”

About Ecosystm, Sitecore & AKQA DXMM Study 2020

Sitecore and AKQA commissioned Ecosystm to survey 600 organisations across Asia Pacific to measure their present levels of digital experience maturity, and also understand the other challenges they face in providing great customer experiences. 100 medium and large enterprises, and government agencies were interviewed from each of the six countries – Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, New Zealand and Australia. Fieldwork for the survey was conducted in September 2020.

About Sitecore

Sitecore delivers a digital experience platform that empowers the world’s smartest brands to build lifelong relationships with their customers. A highly decorated industry leader, Sitecore is the only company bringing together content, commerce, and data into one connected platform that delivers millions of digital experiences every day. Leading companies including American Express, ASOS, Carnival Cruise Lines, Kimberly-Clark, L’Oréal, and Volvo Cars rely on Sitecore to provide more engaging, personalised experiences for their customers. Learn more at Sitecore.com.

About AKQA

AKQA is a design and innovation company that aims to create unique customer experiences, and reshape client’s organisations and technology around their needs.

About Ecosystm

Ecosystm is a private equity backed Digital Research and Advisory Platform that brings together tech buyers, tech vendors and analysts into one integrated platform to enable the best decision making in the evolving digital economy.

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