How to stop wasting resources to improve the customer experience

Are you wasting valuable resources trying to improve customer experience? 70% of leading companies say that it is a top priority [1], but many don’t know where to start.

They see customer experience as isolated touchpoints: physical stores, mobile apps, web store, social media. While it is important to improve those individual interactions, companies should not lose sight of the forest for the trees. What’s most important is understanding the entire customer journey from the customer’s point of view. It’s never a simple path and can cross over five different touchpoints[2] before they buy.

Flexibility is key to winning on today’s digital playing field.

Customers are looking for new and better experiences

Today’s customer is barraged by product choices and too much information. They quickly lose attention and affection. Moreover, due to easy access to information, they have figured out how to find the exact product they want at the price they are willing to spend. The only way to win their loyalty is through the experience they have with a brand across all customer interaction points—online and off. Research shows how customers are now looking for experience and relationships, not individual items and interactions:

  • What they buy. One-third of customers in the last holiday season said they prefer to buy gifts that are, in fact, an experience vs. a physical item.[3]
  • How they buy. Today, customers use an average of almost six touchpoints when buying an item, with 50% regularly using more than four.[4]
  • How they interact with your brand. 81% of customers want brands to get to know them and understand when to approach them and when not to.[5]

Even customer onboarding and retention is a result of historical interactions. Companies can obtain high metrics on email interactions, website visits, and social media likes – and most customers won’t complain about one or two mediocre interactions – but it is the cumulative experience that makes people reconsider if they can get better service elsewhere.

Traditional commerce solutions are not structured for new customer experiences

Unfortunately, most companies have legacy commerce systems that are still structured to serve the old definition of customer experience, which is siloed into different touchpoints. Physical stores can’t access digital customer profiles and history; marketing can’t configure personalized bundles and offers because of limitations in backend business systems.

Some tackle this challenge by outsourcing their commerce to a SaaS vendor. However, making changes to align a SaaS commerce platform with a brand’s unique business requirements is almost nonexistent. This makes it difficult to create unique ways of doing business. In addition, the SaaS templated digital presence means brands look highly similar to their competitors.

Others take the route of a single-stack platform, but just like putting all your eggs in one basket, this can be risky and expensive. In both cases, customer experiences become tied down by the technology, unable to respond to changing expectations six months or five years from now. Their only option is to tack on additional features and to build new stacks for each touchpoint. This approach results in disjointed customer experiences and puts companies in a position of perpetual catch-up.

new commerce solutions blog image

New commerce solutions for the new customer experience

The problem is that traditional commerce systems couple the frontend presentation layer with the business rules in the commerce engine. This necessitates silo solutions for mobile, web and other channels, resulting in communication challenges among them. Adding new frontend experiences involves working with backend code, and often requires specialized developers skilled in the stack’s language.

This is precisely what happened to a leading automotive industry disrupter. It was struggling with scalability and performance issues, disjointed commerce and CMS, and a heavy dependence on IT to manage customer experiences. In the middle of a race to create the connected car, its infrastructure had stalled. Shifting gears, the company chose a flexible, headless commerce solution that separated the backend business logic from frontend experiences, creating a bridge between their content and commerce platform and all touchpoints. This allowed them to eliminate the IT infrastructure build process for each touchpoint and enabled their marketing team to own and monetize great customer experiences.

A flexible, headless commerce solution allows designers to create the continuous, personalized experiences that today’s customers expect across all touchpoints. Marketers can spin up different promotions and bundles based on what’s trending and on competitive information. No longer are they overly reliant on IT to change prices and keep all the touchpoints coordinated.

Business users can change the look and feel of a customer experience, as well as control the embedded commerce quickly and easily. This allows marketing to try out different ideas in a controlled test environment, optimizing systems to monetize the experience when and where the customer is ready to buy.

With a flexible, headless commerce solution, companies can stay a step ahead, continually innovating, all while zeroing in on that perfect offer at the right time and the right place.


References

[1] 72% of Businesses Name Improving Customer Experience Their Top Priority, Forrester, April 12, 2016.
[2] Today, consumers use an average of almost six touch points when buying an item, with 50% regularly using more than four.” – Marketing Week
[3]2017 Holiday Retail Survey: Retail in Transition, Deloitte.
[4]Gautam, Nitish, 50 Important Customer Experience Statistics You Need Know, Ameyo, July 19, 2017.
[5]Boehmer, Madeline, 10 Surprising Stats About Personalization, Business 2 Community, March 8, 2017.

The post How to stop wasting resources to improve the customer experience appeared first on Get Elastic Ecommerce Blog.

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