We’ve all heard that customer experience is more important now than ever – especially as the global pandemic means consumers are turning to brands more often to meet even more needs. And with the stresses of 2020, those experiences need to be as frictionless as possible.
So, increasingly, many brands seek or claim to be customer-centric. At Adobe, we’re not shy in saying we are customer obsessed. It’s not common to use a word like ‘obsessed’ at work and have it sit comfortably, but we think it’s brave – and accurate – and here’s why:
- Because to be obsessed is to be endlessly interested – to dig deep, to ask why, and to challenge.
- Because obsession is commitment – to the object of your obsession, to ongoing refinements, to improvement.
- And mostly, because it’s active. The obsessed do not passively observe. They have skin in the game, so they play it to win.
We know that data has everything to do with the quality of customer experiences, so when we speak to business leaders about their desire to be customer-centric, we want to help them unlock data and use it to power meaningful and measurable action. The architect behind that action is our data-driven operating model, or DDOM. DDOM is a new way of working that creates a shared organisational expectation: that any decision about customer experience will be predicated on data and insight from a range of Adobe products and third-party systems and inputs. These insights help map customer journeys, assign KPIs to each point along the way and most crucially, organise teams from the top down to – obsessively – deliver for their customer.
It’s a methodology that drove our own transformation and one that we feel should be at the heart of any brand that says the customer is at the heart of theirs.
But with so many brands talking customer-centricity, what might be holding them back?
Too often, we hear businesses tell us that their commitment to customer-centricity is uneven. Perhaps it only exists in parts of their organisation, or maybe embracing new approaches means parting with heritage (or dealing with its size). Some organisations really aren’t being honest with themselves; they say they are all about the customer, but their true obsession is financial. And sometimes, practicalities from HR to legacy technology systems just don’t truly support the mission.
DDOM can shift the conversation from stagnating ‘buts’ to possibility-revealing ‘what ifs’, using data and insight to test hypotheses, validate decisions and reveal new surprises and pathways.
As an example, at Adobe, we have a number of customer audiences and personas and we used DDOM as the coronavirus pandemic unfolded. As trends, interests and product enquiries evolved based on lockdown status and needs in each market, we became frankly obsessed as new patterns revealed themselves. We applied DDOM to interrogate them; we looked at qualitative and quantitative data, we found and mapped correlations and charged our teams to peel back all the layers. Ultimately, we uncovered a brand-new audience segment – one that was previously unknown and certainly not part of an acquisition strategy. So DDOM’s power is not just in bringing us closer to the audiences we’ve identified, but also revealing new customers to learn about.
How to be customer obsessed
Our DDOM-led transformation has taken just over three years, and in that time, we’ve really learned by doing. Here are our tips for those who want to join the ranks of the customer obsessed.
Be action oriented
Remember that data is good, insight is better, action is key. While a dashboard like DDOM can help brands identify a single point of truth, it falls to teams to embrace that truth, align around it and make sure there are hard and fast plans to turn truth into tangible customer benefits.
Set customer-driven KPIs
In a customer-obsessed world, set KPIs that mirror, measure and improve the customer experience. Ensure their delivery by appointing a clear owner. At Adobe, we have leads that own each point in our customer journey who are empowered to make decisions and who are accountable.
… But don’t boil the ocean
We learned that when teams align to a journey point instead of function, there can be a lot of voices arguing for a lot of KPIs. Control the impulse to please everyone and instead focus on an impactful and achievable number of KPIs, knowing you can always build and modify based on what you learn in market.
Let your language lead the way
Indulge your one-track, customer focused mind with a language to match. Democratise data with your single source of truth dashboard in order to share it organisation-wide and fuel a new vocabulary that transforms internal narratives, discussions – even meetings! At Adobe, we talk so much more about our audience vs. units sold now, and it’s not only refreshing but keeps us ruthlessly focused on our customer experience.
Get sponsorship from the top
It’s no surprise that people ‘follow the leader’, so get buy-in from the top before you embark on a transformation to be customer obsessed. At Adobe, our key sponsor was the CEO, who has a pedigree in major business transformations. The operational teams soon followed. Our CEO was also an early adopter of our new vocabulary and helped us literally set a new tone.
Change – and taking the actions that make it happen – isn’t easy. As anyone on a new diet or following a new fitness regime can tell us, taking that first step is the hardest part. Yet, as the laws of physics go, an object in motion stays in motion.
We can’t promise it’s easy to look at things in a new way, build unfamiliar processes and systems, even to change your language. But if a business is serious about being customer-centric, it’s necessary. And as we can attest, the hard work is worth it.
Find out more about empowering your business to make more effective data driven decisions here.