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The ability to act quickly has become a critical indicator of business success. Discover three key pathways to growth driven by real-time customer experience.

In sales, it is well known that calling a potential customer in the first 5 minutes after they have shown interest in a product increases the likelihood of a sale, while a delay of as little as half an hour drastically reduces success rates. It’s no wonder, then, that real-time customer experience management increases the benefits of responsiveness in the new digital, post-information and communication technology era.

According to a study by Adobe and the London School of Economics, the ability to act quickly has been a critical indicator of business success over the past 18 months. Organizations that thrived were more agile before COVID-19 and thrived by reacting more quickly than their competitors with both short- and long-term digital solutions. Successful organizations “quickly recognized the need to make changes to their business processes, organizational structure and resource optimization at high speed,” the research found.

Cross-functional planning, test-and-learn experiments, and a democratic approach to data – turning it into actionable information and putting it in the hands of trained personnel to take rapid action – were also key factors. “The fundamental reality is that the accelerating speed of digital means we increasingly live in a winner-take-all world,” says Kate Smaje, senior partner at McKinsey Digital.

“But simply going faster is not the answer. Rather, winning companies are investing in technology, data, processes and people to enable speed through better decisions and faster course corrections based on what they learn.”

So where should companies seeking growth driven by real-time customer experiences start? There are three main paths to navigate on the journey to real-time success.

  1. Unified database.

“The road to recovery is paved with data,” according to Smaje. However, the problem for most organizations is not a lack of data, but a lack of actionable data. In fact, fewer than one in four rate their organization as “very strong” when it comes to getting actionable information quickly.

Unifying customer data on one platform to support real-time customer profiling is the most important step in facilitating increased organizational velocity and informed, data-driven decision making, according to Gabbi Stubbs, APAC product marketing lead for Adobe’s data management solutions. “We see a massive movement toward consolidation,” Stubbs says. “Organizations are moving toward a single or more extensible platform with a scalable infrastructure that can deliver data management but also execution. A real-time profile is the bottom line.”

Take the 160-year-old international banking group Standard Chartered as an example. With offices in nearly 60 countries, the brand has seen dramatic changes in customer behavior since the advent of COVID-19, including three years of mobile adoption condensed into one and one in three customers switching to digital platforms in the APAC region. According to CEO Pedro Sousa Cardoso, Standard Chartered underwent a process of unifying its database and implementing advanced analytics to provide insights to inform the creation of customer-centric experiences, its goal for winning new customers.

“We can have a lot of data,” says Cardoso, who spoke at the recent Adobe Summit. “What matters is how we can transform that data into actionable insights and make good use of that data.” Another of the bank’s goals was to accelerate data-dependent processes. “We were relying a lot on manual processes and wanted to automate and extend a lot of the processes we have to engage with customers,” he says.

The bank’s investment in Adobe’s customer experience stack demonstrated a strong return on investment, in some segments, increasing conversion rates by double-digit percentages.

“We’ve built a global architecture and now we’re scaling it up,” Cardoso says.

 2.  Quick access to data and content

It’s one thing to have access to customer data, but it’s quite another to leverage it with real-time, personalized messages. Organizations that have thrived have been able to equip their staff with the tools they need to get the job done and trust them to do it, fostering “location autonomy,” according to the New Era in Experience report. It’s a familiar concept at Standard Chartered, where speed of content is a goal, as the team sends messages across devices to aid multichannel conversion throughout the customer journey.

The bank has a “build once, enable many times” philosophy to scale its activities across the region, with local content messaging developed based on local customer insights. According to IDC, about nine out of ten companies are under pressure to build content assets faster, but this has become non-negotiable as market conditions have fluctuated with the spread of the pandemic over the past year.

Content development relies heavily on research, with customer analytics available to enable teams to make decisions that inform content creation without requiring lengthy approval processes.


3. Agile operational processes

Finally, the data, tools and content essential for real-time success are backed by processes that support agile branding. In fact, the ability to be “agile and quick to act” ranked among executives’ top two priorities, along with innovation, in this year’s 2021 Digital Trends report.

Older waterfall processes are increasingly being traded in for shorter, more agile work cycles to support real-time customer experience delivery.

Meanwhile, customer experience leaders are three times more likely than other companies to be adept at creating experiments to test insights in the field to help them improve performance.

Following a digital transformation at RMIT Melbourne, which has locations in Vietnam and Melbourne, the marketing team now works in short sprints in cross-functional agile teams, closely aligned with those of the technology team.

The marketing team’s agile process now includes experimentation and testing. For example, according to chief experience officer Chaminda Ranasinghe, the team conducted an experiment to see what incentives were most attractive to students coming to RMIT to do an associate degree. After trying smaller class sizes and more hands-on support, the opportunity to secure a place in a related degree if the student maintained his or her grade proved to be the most effective offer. Despite the pandemic, the result was a 2000% increase in the number of offers with guaranteed pathways, to nearly 1,000 by 2020.

With a unified database that provides a real-time view of customer behavior and the tools, resources and processes to understand and address those needs as they arise, real-time customer experience management enables organizations to survive and thrive in the post-COVID era.

Source: Adobe blog