How important is the digital experience in improving customer experiences?

This latest webinar from Adobe asks the overall question “How important is the digital experience in improving customer experiences?”, opening with the question “what are customers looking for?”

Our panel of experts for this debate are (from left to right):

Essentially, we all lead different lives with unique regimes that put us in front of different methods of data access at varying times. Traditionally, we’ve all chosen between offline channels (phone) and online channels (the web). Some of us access services from our laptop on the sofa, others purely from work PC, others prefer to pick up the phone and ring a call centre.

Now, with more and more people owning an internet-enabled mobile device, these channels are becoming interwoven; and our panellists make some excellent points as to how this new flexibility can benefit the customer.

The key is to give the customer the power to access and manipulate the data and services they need through whatever medium they prefer. Banks have been doing this for years; it’s so easy to withdraw money from ATMs and manage our money with internet banking that we now have little need to walk into a bank branch.

In giving more accessibility to the customer, however, usability becomes a significant factor. Gunnar raises the point that customers are used to thinking that the “fun” stuff online is easy – social networking sites like Facebook invest millions in ensuring their interface is as intuitive as possible. It’s this instant usability that businesses need to aim for when providing an online service; your customers don’t want to have to read a manual or help section before they can do what they want with your site.

The panel goes on to discuss social media, how companies can attempt to keep up and how consistency can be maintained across all channels and devices; Cleve raises the point that the recent influx of tablets of varying sizes has affected the user experience on a device level – and suggests ways that page designers can ensure consistency of page layout.

Finally, our speakers offer their thoughts on the future of customer experience management.

The full video of this debate can be viewed above; please do add any comments or questions below, as we do value your thoughts and opinions.

Gartner CRM Conference Day 2

Day 2 of the Gartner CRM Conference 2011 is at an end; what are the key messages we came away with?

The Customer Experience war is fought on the front lines

Ed Thompson, VP and distinguished analyst at Gartner, delivered a number of key messages in his session, titled Putting Plans for Customer Experience Into Practice. Notably, he urged CEOs and managers to look to their front line employees for input – as they are the ones dealing with the customers and witnessing their frustrations and concerns first hand.

Companies spending the most on improving customer experience are generally either the very best or very worst at it

The very best companies at customer experience management (CEM) invest heavily each year in measuring customer experience in order to stay on top. The very worst companies invest heavily each year in a bid to quell the constant bashing by the media. It’s the companies sitting quietly in the middle that have yet to appreciate just how important customer experience is to their business.

Gartner CRM

Process is important, but so is the flexibility to break it

We all have tales of times when customer-facing staff have gone that ‘extra mile’ for us; whether upgrading us on a flight or hotel room or giving us an unofficial loyalty discount. In fact, the most successful companies allow rule-breaking “by design”; while process remains the key to a good customer experience, giving your front line sales and customer service operatives the flexibility to step outside that process in the right circumstances is a sure way to create happy customers.

Measuring your customers’ experience requires more than one method

Gartner’s Jim Davies took to the stage to explain that measuring your customers’ experience demands a multi-faceted approach in his presentation titled Voice of the Customer: Listen, Analyze and Act To Improve the Customer Experience. He broke this down into three categories:

  • Direct – Customer communicating directly with you via survey, letter or phone.
  • Indirect – Customer talking about you to others – this includes social media
  • Inferred – That voice inside a customer’s head that no one hears, but affects their future decisions

The challenge for companies is to take a holistic view of all three of these together, and to understand just how strongly one compliments the others. Jim cited a great case study of a leading Middle East mobile provider. For years, number portability didn’t exist in Israel. Changing provider meant changing phone number, which was enough of an inconvenience to keep many with networks they weren’t happy with. When portability was introduced, the network experienced a massive increase in customer churn that surveys hadn’t predicted. Implementing a speech analytics system analysing word spotting, emotion detection and talk patterns led to an 85% increase in customers identified as a churn risk – 75% of which proved accurate.

The public does not trust technology

Technology is feared for its unreliability – from the murderous haywire robots of 1960s sci-fi to media reports of lost USB sticks full of valuable data. The hardest challenge for any company investing in CEM is to gain its customers’ trust. Services must be robust and offer constant feedback; if a user fills out a form online, for example, but does not receive a confirmation email, they will in most cases phone a customer service line. Reducing complexity also increases trust – the simpler a form or service is to complete, the less perceived risk in it going wrong.

Customer experience online begins at the development stage

Adobe’s VP of Enterprise Marketing Kevin Cochrane joined forces with Yohan Founs, Principal Consultant at leading French IT specialist and Adobe customer SQLi to demonstrate how Adobe Air enables fast development of cloud-based collaborative interfaces. Meanwhile, Gartner’s Ray Valdes offered insight into designing delightful, or dreadful digital user experiences. We’ll be looking at what was said on development in the coming days – watch this space!

Gartner CRM Conference – Day 1

So day one of the Gartner CRM Conference 2011 behind us and day 2 well underway. What have we learnt so far?

Customer Experience Management is here to stay

Ed Thompson of Gartner highlighted a number of pieces of research covering the main drivers behind the increased focus by organisations on the customer experience. One that really stood out was a study byBrand Keys that found that only 21% of products and services had any points of differentiation that were meaningful to consumers. This is nearly 10% less than a benchmark study conducted in 2003. In an undifferentiated world, the customer experience is king.

Social and mobile are huge opportunities for delivering great customer experiences

Alongside some great examples of social initiatives (below) Gartner was predicting spend on social software would be more than $1 billion by the end of next year. Another stat that stuck in the mind was that 80% of businesses are losing revenue from not supporting web-based customer service on mobile. However the audience were pretty bullish about how quickly mobile is and will be adopted as channel over the next 3 years (more on that below as well).

Management of the customer experience is spread across multiple disciplines, departments and has numerous metrics.

Gartner highlighted 4 different customer experience themes – Customer Satisfaction / Loyalty & Advocacy / Brand & Reputation / Quality – and 4 different elements within each of these themes. That’s 16 different elements of the customer experience with 16 different metrics and very little integration or synchronisation of these metrics, according to Gartner. We think that joining up these metrics is key to managing, measuring and delivering a holistic customer experience and we know that some organisations are making good progress.  We’re running a survey at the Adobe booth at the show to ask a wider audience, so if you’re there do take part. More on the results later in the week!

That CRM practitioners are a lot more bullish about how quickly CEM will develop than the Gartner analysts

Adobe’s Kevin Cochrane was on a customer experience panel with other sponsors after the Mark Raskino’s keynote introduction. The analysts had already provided predictions for progress against a number of different elements of the customer experience. The panel discussed and the audience voted on these predictions. A great example of the audience’s bullishness was a question about the percentage of sales, marketing and customer service processes on mobile by 2015. The analysts predicted 30%, the audience were at 60% along with the panel. Great to see the excitement in CEM and the potential of new tech at a practitioner level!

Companies that really understand the value of customer experience are embracing mobile, social and multi-channel

QR codes are beginning to take off in the UK, today we learnt that they’re huge in Japan where Gap is using them in store windows to enable consumers to sign up for promotions without even stepping inside the store. Something that it’s now doing in the US as well. Lufthansa’s is a service that automatically updates a travelers Facebook and Twitter profiles with where they are, even if they’re flying with someone else. While is just a great example of the power of social to create something really shared and very special.

Day 2 of the conference sees Adobe partner SQLI present some of the innovative projects we’ve been working on together across Europe – Delivering improved Customer Experience to enhance business value at 9.15am – and more from Jim Davies, Ray Valdes and Ed Thompson of Gartner. More details on the blog to follow soon.


Gartner CRM Conference, London – 14-15th March 2011

Next week will be an exciting milestone in the development of CEM (Customer Experience Management) at Adobe. We are delighted to be the lead sponsor at the Gartner CRM Conference and are sponsoring the CEM track at the conference

In 2009 almost 40% of CIOs agreed that boosting customer experience was the most important way for technology to contribute to the long-term survival of their company.  Two years on, this instinct proved to be absolutely correct. The explosive growth of digital marketing has continued to evolve and is driving significant organisational transformation.

This event is a fantastic opportunity for Adobe to help CIOs, technology decision makers and marketeers to better understand the importance of CEM to their business. In the modern, online, connected business environment, it is essential that organisations – of all sizes – can deliver a new online experience which will drive brand awareness, customer loyalty, revenue, and market share; whilst also meeting the challenge of delivering a consistent high-quality experience across multiple channels and geographical regions – no small task.

Kevin Cochrane, VP product marketing for Adobe, is one of a number of Adobe execs travelling to the conference. Kevin will participate in a seminar debate on Monday 14th March, 10.15 – 10.45 – A New Era of CRM. In this discussion Kevin, joined by  Reza Soudagar, Annie Weinberger and Brad Wilson will cover a broad range of topics from current day best practices to futuristic scenarios that could dramatically impact customer relationships and experiences in years to come.

Elsewhere at the conference on Tuesday 15th March, 9.15-9.45, Yohan Founs from Adobe partner SQLI will be giving a seminar. This presentation – Delivering improved Customer Experience to enhance business value – will give an overview of how improving customer experience can also impact positively on areas such as employee performance, productivity, quality of services and employee/customer satisfaction.

Adobe is working with SQLI on some incredibly innovative projects across Europe, particularly within the financial services sector, keep watching this blog for more details in the coming months.

Finally, this conference is a great opportunity for Adobe to talk about how its business is evolving and to explain why Adobe believes it is at the forefront of innovation and thought leadership within CEM. Acquisitions in 2010 of Day Software  and Omniture, combined with Adobe’s already formidable enterprise capabilities, mean that Adobe is better placed than ever to provide end-to-end services and expertise which can transform the way a company engages with it customers. 

CEM is not a matter of simply replacing costly call centre and in-person interactions with self-service and online applications, consumers still demand high quality personal service. Instead there is a significant opportunity to revamp the way companies interact with customers and to improve margins while doing so. Digital channels like online and mobile are becoming the preferred method for clients to sell their products and services. Organisations that can deliver customer-centric services through these lower cost channels – while improving the services delivered through traditional channels – will not only capture market share and loyalty, but they will reap bottom-line rewards as well.

We look forward to seeing you at Gartner CRM Conference. Remember you can also follow Adobe at the conference through Twitter @AdobeEnterprise where we’ll be tweeting live from some of the keynotes and we’ll be posting more updates right here on the blog. You can also follow Gartner on Twitter @Gartner_inc/gartner-events and @Gartner_inc.

David Nuescheler Discusses What is New in CQ5

Following the launch last Tuesday of our Web Experience Management platform, that included significant enhancements to CQ5 and integration with the Adobe Online Marketing Suite, many have asked what is new in CQ5. To answer this, David Nuescheler, VP of Day products and technology here at Adobe, had a short Q&A with our sister blog, Experience Delivers. The video is below and if have any questions let us know.

The Social Web Experience

Today’s customers and prospects expect more from a website than simple one-way communication, and many are adopting social media channels faster than organisations. Social media has become such an integral part of many people’s lives that Lightspeed Research recently found that half of social network users log on regularly throughout the day.  The challenge companies now face lies in integrating new social media channels with other traditional channels as part of a cohesive, multichannel customer interaction strategy across sales, marketing, and service.

If modern businesses want to integrate social and collaborative capabilities into their customer experience management, their engagement has to be authentic and reflect the very mood of the conversation they are engaging with.

As discussed on our previous post, we’ve have just launched our Web Experience Management solution and a key module of the suite focuses on social and is aptly named CQ5 Social Collaboration. Social collaboration is helping customers like Waitrose to respond to some of the challenges online marketers face when building media-rich, interactive online communities that attract genuine engagement.

This helps to increase site repeat visits, build customer brand identification and loyalty, and facilitate greater customer insight for continuous optimisation of new campaigns. It also includes a new forums capability, so that users can exchange and connect information within and beyond the organisation to employees, vendors, customers, prospects and other stakeholders.

To find out how CQ5 Social Collaboration can help your business, look here to learn more, and would be great to know what you think.

Transforming the Customer Experience

This week has been a busy one for us here at Adobe as you may have seen that we announced a significant milestone in our customer experience management (CEM) platform, notably the arrival of our new web experience management (WEM) solution. The ability to truly deliver a multi-channel experience, integrating mobile, social communities, is now a reality for the digital enterprise.

Why we see this important is in today’s world is because marketers need to get into the mindset that a good customer experience correlates to customer loyalty and resulting in increased sales. With consumers researching and buying using multiple channels, often blending paths for a single purchase, the smart marketer has been faced with a real conundrum. They need to have the ingredients for a successful web experience strategy across all consumer touch points.

Enterprises online need to be able to deliver localised and relevant content for targeted multi-channel campaigns if they are to remain competitive. It’s because of this need to join the dots of digital content that we have reinforced our position in the Web Experience Management market.

Check out the short video from Kevin Cochrane below that goes into a little more detail on what web experience management means for business and we’d love to hear what you think.


Adobe Government Webinar – Thursday 17th February, Register Now!

The next in Adobe’s series of live government webinars in conjunction with ITU Live, takes place tomorrow.

The subject for tomorrow’s panel discussion will be Online Citizen and Business Services: Online citizen self-service in the age of austerity

On the panel will be:

  • Dominic Cain, Head of Client Services at the London Borough of Southwark (‘One Touch’ approach to citizen service delivery)
  • Guy Ker, Publishing Director at Directgov
  • Gilles Polin, Adobe’s European Head of Government Solutions EMEA
  • Helen Olsen, ITU Editor and moderator

The webinar begins at 2pm UK time and is free to attend, just click here to register. @AdobeEnterprise will also be tweeting live from the webinar, you can follow and participate in the conversation on Twitter using the #tag #AdobeGovLive.

Cloud, Procurement and Utility Computing in the Public Sector

Thanks to everyone that joined us for the recent Adobe government webinars with ITU Live. It was another really interesting debate. It’s great to see a panel of eminent experts from the industry who are also so “hands-on” in shaping the future of government IT, expressing their opinions in an open and challenging forum.

The topic was Cloud Computing and sparked a lively discussion about the barriers to innovation that are created by the public sector procurement process. A full video of the webinar is available here please do take the time watch.

I’ve also pulled out a few bullets below from the session which I thought were particularly insightful. Do feel free to add your own thoughts about this via the comments section within this blog. We always keen to hear what you have to say.

  • Liam Maxwell, IT specialist and Conservative councillor at the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, argued that government needs to focus its attention on transparency, personal identity and cross-platform in the cloud to reduce IT spend in local government. A pioneer in his own constituency Liam is championing cloud computing with a view to moving most of Windsor and Maidenhead’s IT into the cloud within the next three years – a bold ambition to say the least.
  • Liam states that one of the key things about localism and the localisation of services is that “it should be possible for someone to set up a trestle table in the town centre and open a government office providing services where and as they are needed”. I agree that cloud technology is certainly an enabler for that vision.
  • He was also discusses that the public sector can do ‘Better for Less’ – a sentiment which Mark O’Neill, CIO at the Department of Communities & Local Government, and lead on the government’s new ‘skunk-works’, also felt.
  • Mark explained how he believes the Comprehensive Spending Review has become a catalyst enabling local and central government to “rethink the business model”, and that this is an opportunity which comes along very rarely in IT.
  • Alan Banks, MD for Adobe, completed the panel. Alan brought an IT vendors perspective to the proceedings. Alan commented that, “the model for government IT is changing and there will be no more monolithic IT projects.” He also led the panel in a discussion about the need for open standards and innovation. This a topic also close to Liam Maxwell’s heart, who said that a staggering £51m saving could be achieved by moving to an open document format within government.

MWC 2011: Flash Platform Continues to Gain Momentum

It’s Valentine’s Day, so that can only mean one thing. No, not bunches of red roses, Hallmark cards or over-sized cuddly toys – the start of Mobile World Congress.

The mobile industry’s annual conference kicks off today in Barcelona and this year, more that ever, looks set to be a pivotal week in defining the direction of the wireless sector.

As ever Adobe will have a strong presence at the show and from a communications perspective will make a number of important news announcements.

Firstly, Adobe is delighted to announce that it strengthening the quality and breadth of the online digital publishers utilising Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite tools. Some of these household names now include Condé Nast, Dennis Publishing, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and National Geographic – they are all leveraging Adobe to create and distribute their iconic and influential titles on Android tablets. Full details of this story available here.

But the bigger story for Enterprise when it comes to mobile is the sheer growth and influence of Flash and AIR on mobile devices. The proliferation of Adobe’s platforms on mobile is impressive – A few stats:

  • Developers and content publishers can now deploy AIR apps to more than 84 million smartphones and tablets running Android and iOS
  • Thousand’s of AIR applications have been created and made available on Android Market and Apple’s App Store
  • More than 20 million smartphones were shipped or upgraded with Flash Player 10.1 in the first six months following the launch
  • For 2011, the company expects Flash Player to be installed on more than 132 million smartphones worldwide

For the Enterprise this means that Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) can be a reality across multiple devices – from the desktop, to smartphone to other mobile devices. At the end of last year Adobe launched LiveCycle ES2.5, with key developments for the enablement of RIAs on mobile. Seamless access to business data as well interactivity with content will improve business performance as well as productivity and efficiency. You can read more about LiveCycle ES2.5 for mobile here and be sure to follow Adobe at MWC 2011 through our blog and Twitter @AdobeUK and @AdobeEnterprise.