Results tagged “customer experience”

Marketing: Fine Art or Blunt Object?

Marketing, at times, can be a blunt object. It can be in your face, intrusive and repetitive. But as more marketing has gone digital, marketers have access to data and insights that allow us to understand our customers better. This brings an opportunity to learn more about our audience and deliver more personalized customer experiences that are better tailored and better timed.

Last week, I had the opportunity to discuss the challenges and opportunities for customer insights and analytics with fellow CMOs John Boris of Shutterfly, and Heidi Melin of Plex Systems, at a Churchill Club talk here in Silicon Valley. A few key takeaways:

  • People want personalized experiences – Consumers want to receive information that is relevant to them and they value personalized experiences.
  • Collaboration is key – It is now more important than ever for organizations to work cross-functionally. We formed a Marketing Insights and Operations group to be a “single source of truth” for customer data and marketing performance here at Adobe. This group consists of Adobe employees from sales, customer support, global marketing and product marketing, and meets to align all marketing data collected across the company.
  • The right data, not just ‘big data’, is a huge opportunity – We use data at every single point in our marketing campaigns to understand campaign effectiveness, mix modeling, media and website optimization, and overall impact and ROI. Developments to customer insights are evolving, and they aren’t slowing down anytime soon. That means big opportunities for innovation. It’s important to know what you’re looking for before you start collecting data to make sure that data is actionable. I like what Fatemeh Khatibloo of Forrester Research, the moderator of our talk, said – “It’s not about big data, it’s about the right data.”

The impact on brands is huge when marketing is personalized for the consumer and online experiences are rewarding, and I believe it makes all the difference. A replay of last week’s talk is below – or you can view it here.  Take a look and let us know what you think.

Earth Day and the Power of Personal Connections

Today is Earth Day, and in 2011 we are encouraged by the Earth Day Network to join its “people-powered” campaign of pledging our acts of environmental service, with the goal of reaching a billion Acts of Green by 2012. It’s no secret that as a company, Adobe has been at the forefront of implementing green operating practices – in fact, we were the world’s first business to achieve four Platinum-level certifications for energy and environmental design excellence by the U.S. Green Building Council.

This year I also find myself reflecting on the various ways that our enterprise technology helps organizations leverage green business practices that ultimately help them decrease their environmental footprint, while increasing business efficiency and connecting people across geographies and time zones.

Acrobat solutions allow our customers to reduce the use of paper documents, while Adobe Connect makes it possible for people to collaborate and communicate globally in real time, helping reduce business travel and its related environmental impact.

For example, the U.S. Government Printing Office was able to save 20 million tons of paper over five years by using Acrobat and LiveCycle to generate, authenticate and share documents electronically. Adobe Connect enabled more than 50,000 SAP employees to communicate around the world instantly, reducing the company’s travel by as much as 90%.

And all along we have been focused with our Customer Experience Management platform on delivering highly personalized, engaging online interactions between enterprises and their customers to power great customer experiences that build brand loyalty without all the environmental damage caused by burning fuel for worldwide travel and wasting paper when electronic means would suffice.

That’s why I found it so interesting when I heard recently about an acquaintance who received a personal, handwritten note – not a personalized email – from leading online retailer, thanking him for his business over the past nine years.  That act of personal outreach had a marked impact.  He not only felt valued by after receiving this note, he now associates a human face with the company.

Can this be done in more environmentally friendly ways?  Of course it can.  Record a quick Flash video and send it on to someone you want to thank.  Send them a personalized PDF portfolio complete with pictures of past experiences together.  The Amazon story is about personal touch – about a real person inside a company reaching out to another real person to establish trust and loyalty.  Just because we are using greener means to communicate doesn’t mean we have to lose the essence of one-to-one personal communication.  In fact in many cases the technology allows us to do it more effectively.

This act of a real person at reaching out to a customer in a very personal way underscores the desire for us to connect with each other, even in our always-on, always-connected online business and personal lives.

We have powerful technology that enables us to know our customers and connect across geographies without the need to ever leave our offices — and that’s a great thing. Yet, we shouldn’t forget that behind the technology lie people.

And so on this Earth Day, I’m going to follow the “people-powered” examples of the Earth Day Network and leverage our great technologies to send something personal – you should do the same!

– Rob

Follow me on Twitter for more perspectives.

New Web Experience Management Solution will Transform Digital Experience

Today we announced the immediate availability of a new Web experience management solution, a significant milestone in delivering our Customer Experience Management (CEM) platform that powers immersive, multi-channel experiences, transforming how enterprises engage, sell and service their customers. A key component of the CEM platform, the Web experience management solution enables businesses to leverage new mobile devices and social communities to extend marketing reach, drive brand engagement, and increase conversion rates of today’s digital consumer. It incorporates new product enhancements to CQ5 from Adobe, including new modules for mobile and marketing campaign management as well as new integration with Adobe® Online Marketing Suite.

The launch is evidence of rapid integration of the Day Software acquisition and highlights strong momentum in delivering fully unified solutions that enable customers to better integrate their Web presence with business applications and unlock the value of multi-channel communications.

CQ5 is the only unified suite of content management tools including Web content management (WCM), mobile, social collaboration, marketing campaign management (MCM) and digital asset management (DAM) applications. CQ5 adds the capabilities of Online Marketing Suite, allowing businesses to deliver more targeted content to identified segments and transform a website from a general communications platform into a focused vehicle for lead generation and revenue acceleration.

Rob Tarkoff, SVP and GM, Digital Enterprise Solutions Business Unit, shares the significance of this announcement on Experience Delivers and discusses why it will create a more personalized and social Web experience enterprise.

Design Thinking for Enterprise

Recently I’ve been putting a lot of thought into how design thinking relates to enterprise business. Design thinking has been around a long time; it is loosely defined as the ability to combine empathy, creativity and rationality to meet user needs while driving business success. Unlike analytical thinking, design thinking is a creative process based on the “building up” of ideas rather than “breaking them down.”

One of the first design thinkers was Thomas Edison. Edison created the electric light bulb and then wrapped an entire industry around it. According to Change by Design author Tim Brown, Edison’s Design thinking genius lay in his ability to conceive a fully formed marketplace, not just the discrete device that provided the catalyst. The light bulb had already been invented, but it was of no use to anyone without the creation of an entire system to generate and distribute electricity. Sweeping cultural changes occurred once users were able to light their homes and businesses. Suddenly, night became as viable as day for getting things done. All of this had a profound effect on consumers and forever changed user behavior. Edison’s invention sparked one of history’s greatest enhancements to the human experience (if you believe a longer work day is an enhancement :)).

Designing a Better Customer Experience

Much like the design thinkers on Edison’s team who enhanced the human experience with electric lighting, a new breed of enterprise designers are creating systems with customer experience at its core. While the old enterprise model created software to smooth processes and increase efficiency for administering back-end systems, the new enterprise model starts with a user-centric approach to improve customer experience for front-end customers.

Why the focus on customer experience? Companies see customer experience as a competitive advantage. Forrester reports that 67% of companies surveyed view customer experience as a way to differentiate themselves within their industry. What’s more, great customer experiences affect the bottom line. Positive customer experiences foster a willingness to buy more products, a reluctance to switch brands, and improve the likelihood for customer recommendations to their social graph.

A downturn in sales is often a trigger for a new focus on reviewing the user experience. A few years back Shimano, a Japanese bike manufacturer was facing lagging sales. The company’s success in the past had been built on technology innovations. Shimano decided to engage with IDEO, a global design consultancy to study the user market. What they discovered was that customers were intimidated by the retail experience of cycling. The specialized clothing, accessories, and the cost of the bikes were all barriers to purchase. This information was uncovered through human-centered exploration, which enabled Shimano to discover a large untapped market of consumers who wanted simple bikes and a better experience. Many of the world’s most successful brands have arrived at breakthrough ideas through a relentless focus on enhancing the customer experience.

What is Design Thinking for Enterprise?

As Fast Company once said, design thinking is a protocol for solving problems and discovering new opportunities in business. At Adobe we have been doing this for some time in the enterprise space, with a team specifically focused on advancing this new approach to building solutions. Last year a team from Adobe, Lab49 and Morgan Stanley utilized design thinking and design-led innovation to produce Matrix, a trading platform that blends human-curated content with machine-filtered content from the massive river of financial information that flows to traders. By engaging design-thinkers in the process of understanding how analysts and traders generate ideas and insights, Morgan Stanley was able to go-to-market with a disruptive experience allowing traders to “turn ideas into action” and execute trades from within a single, compelling and highly productive platform.

Today, user–centric design needs to be on the agenda of every enterprise company. This is a white space for capturing new opportunity for business. As Mark Twain once said, “Supposing is good, but finding out is better.” It’s time to roll out design thinking across all enterprise business and focus on how to unlock the best possible user experience. Technology innovation is just the first step in the new digital enterprise. The software industry must put the ideation, creation and design of solutions into the hands of designers, and focus developers and engineers on their realization. This will yield significant benefits in a data-rich, consumer driven economy.

For additional perspectives, follow me on Twitter: @RTarkoff.

The New Social Enterprise

Capture.PN14GAt the recent Enterprise 2.0 conference, the key topics ranged from developing open and collaborative cultures, to integrating social business software that brings together brand monitoring and customer engagement tools via the Social Web. While there is still room for discussion over which Web 2.0 solutions are best, by now it is fairly obvious that we are at a tipping point in the design of the New Social Enterprise. The challenges are twofold: first, many of these applications are developed in a way that forces enterprises to modify core business processes, which is a non-starter for most companies, particularly in a tough economic environment. Second, most of these solutions are not designed at the start to embrace multi-channel interactions like social media, site-specific CRM systems, or community based forums. As a result, many enterprises are grudgingly being pulled into endorsing partial solutions to social software collaboration spawned independently by departments seeking to close the gap between their customer and their sliver of overall enterprise/customer relationship. If this problem doesn’t get addressed quickly, many of these early efforts will fail, and IT departments may force enterprises to retrench. How is the Social Web transforming the way most large enterprises do business? The transformation of enterprises via the Social Web will take place on two fronts, new technologies and new user behavior trends. On the tech side, Web 2.0 technologies including social computing, enterprise mobility and personalization will change the systems that employees and their customers rely upon for effective communication and collaboration. We can expect personalization to get even more sophisticated going forward, with enterprises more routinely using context-aware computing to better target and optimize content around user behavior. Enterprise organizations will gain more customer insights from technologies that gather data from a multitude of customer touch points, resulting in more personalized service for consumers. On the user behavior side, we are starting to see a rise in expectations for a better customer experience that is simple, clean, and fast. The highly visual social platforms have set the standard for interactions with enterprise, and have changed user expectations across the board. Consumers now presume they can reach customer service or critical support functions 24/7 across multiple touch points and through different devices. Customer care agents should have instant access to their profile data, buying history, and preferences and be prepared to make customized recommendations just for them. How should enterprise begin to address integration of the Social Web?

    • Start with a customer-centric strategy that embraces new interaction patterns but doesn’t sabotage core systems of record. The Web has empowered consumers to do more for themselves across all channels of communication, but particularly through online mobile interactions. Enterprise should build on this trend by leveraging technology to smooth out processes that involve “on-ramping” or interacting with customers through mobile platforms. New self-service or “assisted service” platforms can be deployed that solve industry problems like effectively enrolling new customers, or creating more personal and effective interactions with customers who experience service issues. Holiday Inn, for example, has announced plans to test smartphones as hotel room keys in order to bypass the waiting at the front desk, similar to what several airlines have experimented with for boarding passes. Simplifying the hotel room-key hand-off moment was a major goal of the enterprise, as this is one of the most important determinants of a positive customer experience for guests. This plan makes sense on many levels, and it leverages existing devices (smartphones) to create a better customer experience without changing any of the core enterprise processes (reservation systems, security systems, etc.) that are necessary to run a hotel smoothly.


    • Embrace the Web as the hub of all customer interaction and be prepared to respond to interaction that happens across any channel. The Web will continue to grow as the central point of communication between the enterprise and its customers. This provides an opportunity to gain a new kind of customer insight by capturing brand sentiment in real time. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal discussed a situation where a guest at the Orlando World Marriott posted a negative tweet about his hotel room. The front desk immediately sent a note of apology and upgraded the guest to a pool-view room. There are 65 million tweets per day and 20% of them are brand related. By listening to customers across the entire Web, enterprise can react quickly, and forge stronger relationship with customers.


  • Plan for personalization. To truly create a one to one relationship with customers, enterprise must leverage the Social Web to learn more about them. This enables better service levels and more efficient handling of customer needs. A good example of this strategy can be found in the Starbucks announcement that they will offer free Wi-Fi starting in July with the primary goal of offering customers a better experience, while all the while learning more about what they do when they are immersed in the Starbuck’s experience. The Starbuck’s Digital Network is a proprietary “launching point” featuring local content and providing access to pay sites like the Wall Street Journal. So why is Starbucks’ going to all this trouble? Schultz stated that he wants to create new sources of content that you can only get at Starbucks, personalized for the Starbuck’s customer. This is true, but there is more to it than that. This is a smart customer retention strategy with personalization at its core. As Forbes CMO Network pointed out, the plan could open new gateways for Starbucks to collect insight about its customers which can be used to enable custom offers. This personalization not only creates new revenue opportunities, but can be a valuable customer benefit that increases long-term brand loyalty to Starbucks.

So what does Social really mean for enterprise? The Social Web is like a tsunami that will wash over the enterprise industry and change all of the legacy norms. Companies can use this inflection point in the marketplace to design experiences that reinforce a connected customer culture made up of consistent and valuable interactions at existing and new points of the customer experience. By focusing on the business value of the Social Web, we have an opportunity to close the loop between enterprise and customers, and to move the industry forward by truly improving the customer experience and driving real ROI for large enterprises through the Social Web.

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