In the dynamic and ever-changing age we find ourselves, assuming that customers are thinking in the same way they were a year ago is no good.

In order to meet expectations and continue to engage with customers, businesses must move with the times and adapt to change.

A recent report from Econsultancy and Adobe shed some light on how businesses are looking to do this.

2019 Digital Trends explored some of the key areas of focus for brands and where their priorities are lying when it comes to continuing to deliver what customers expect.

We’ve picked out some ways that brands can cater to the expectations of customers, and where the next move might be.

 

Customer experience

It’s no longer enough to simply deliver products and services and expect customers to come back to you time and again.

From the first moment they consider buying from you, all the way through to after their purchase is complete and product is with them, there’s ample opportunity to differentiate by delivering an exceptional customer experience (CX).

Recent years have seen customer experience become an increasing priority for brands. But according to the report, only 10% of businesses consider themselves to be ‘very advanced’ on the CX side of things.

There is evidence that more companies will be investing in customer experience, with 50% of respondents indicating they are looking to increase CX-related technology spending in 2019.

The fact of the matter is all roads lead to CX, and the other areas highlighted in the report and in this blog all centre around delivering an enhanced customer experience.

Women browsing images on a tablet, while surrounded by potted plants

Personalisation

customer personalisation

Following on from the above, one difficulty faced by brands is providing a personalised customer experience without violating consumer privacy.

According to the Econsultancy and Adobe report, the key is customer journey management, which holds the key to successful personalisation.

By gaining a better understanding of the journeys taken by users, it’s easier to optimise and advance these journeys through solid UX approaches.

The customer journey is ‘where data meets products meets customer experience’ according to the report, and therefore providing a relevant, engaging journey can boost retention and reputation moving forwards.

Data is key

To achieve the kind of personalisation and tailored experiences that will set brands apart, it’s necessary to have relevant and actionable data to hand.

But accessing the data that will make a true difference is proving to be challenging. Data can easily be siloed and lost within the four walls of your business.

What’s more, recent headlines has included plenty of mentions of data privacy and protection, particularly in light of the breaches Facebook and Google carried out and the introduction of GDPR.

But this increased focus on data privacy isn’t generally seen as a negative. According to the report, 52% of CX leaders said the increased focus on consumer data protection had had a positive impact, and only 8% said it had had a negative impact.

The question for businesses is how to strike the right balance between privacy and personalising for customers. Those companies that find the right balance here stand to thrive.

data in marketing

Artificial Intelligence

artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence is no longer an area that’s ‘on the horizon’. It’s here and it’s having a tangible impact.

The report found that 36% were already using AI in some form in their business, compared to the 24% that answered the same way in 2018.

A further 38% are looked to invest in AI, showing that AI is becoming an increasingly central part of business plans.

The report showed that AI is being most used in areas including data analysis, programmatic advertising, on-site personalisation, optimisation and testing.

Integrated tech is key to CX

Whether you’re looking at things from the tech side, marketing side or at the C-level, having disparate systems that don’t complement one another can prove problematic.

And when the key to a strong customer experience is fluidity and seamlessness, using disparate technologies will have an impact.

It’s therefore important to look to integrate customer experience, marketing technology and advertising technology where possible.

This can improve processes and allow your teams to spend more time focusing on the areas that will really benefit your business.

technology integration

What to consider

business meeting

With these key areas to the fore, what should businesses put front and central?

Here are some key takeaways:

-          Create a customer-centric ethos across your business

-          Data is so important, so don’t neglect the insights it provides

-          Keep spreading the AI message and the benefits available

-          Integrate any disparate technologies

If you’re looking for a new full stack digital partner, get in touch with Williams Commerce