Digital customer experience requires marketers to reconsider their “principles, processes, and technologies” and strategically adopt new technologies. That’s the word from Gartner Research Vice President Mick MacComascaigh, who said companies and brands should aim to deliver richer and more personalized experiences.

Your website doesn’t equal your web presence — much less your digital presence — and your home page is increasingly irrelevant. Marketers today should view every customer touchpoint as an individualized homepage centered on the task that the customer wants to perform, he said.

Leading the Digital Customer Experience

But there’s still a gap between what companies and brands should do and what they are actually doing.

New research from Accenture found digital experiences are still falling short of customer expectations. “Consumers are leaving brand websites and making purchases elsewhere at a higher rate than a year ago because expectations are growing faster than the experiences are evolving,” the report states.

So what should companies and brands do today to lead the experience? Here are 10 recommendations from speakers, attendees, and sponsors who attended Arke‘s third annual CX Summit in Atlanta.

1. Stay Customer Focused

“One of the big stumbling blocks to creating an exceptional customer experience is remaining internally focused. It’s easy as a business to implement processes or procedures that help you run your business more efficiently. But they may actually not be enjoyable for your customer … (The goal is to) stay focused on the customer. Think about how you’re going to make the purchase or transaction easy for the customer.” — Kelly Brock, director of marketing at UPS, a global package delivery company

2. Know Your Customers

“Businesses just starting out with digital customer experience should take time to understand their customers. They need to know who they are, what they want, how they navigate the customer journey. It’s also important to understanding the diversity in their customer base. Once you do that, it’s easier to step back, clearly define your objectives, and make sure you can deliver on each of them.” — Jamie Miller, digital marketing operations manager at D.R. Horton, a leading new home builder

3. Start With Strategy

“The customer experience journey is really super complex because of all the different channels we now use. In addition, it takes a lot of planning and thought to align your strategy and thinking about the different personas you’re targeting.” — Ashley Boggs, vice president of marketing at Deposco, a provider of cloud-based supply chain software applications

4. Use Customer Journey Maps

“There is a very simple, streamlined way to communicate the customer journey to others within your organization. You can actually map the journey on one sheet piece of paper and explain that to people at any level within your organization, from the C-suite to coworkers who want to better understand the customer journey.” — Colleen Nolan is business process manager for Cox Automotive, a subsidiary of Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises

5. Every Touchpoint Brings You Closer to Customers

“It takes time to really be strategic about aligning digital experiences with traditional marketing. We have taken some really innovative steps at Make-A-Wish Georgia, some of which have worked out and some of which haven’t. But you need to understand that even failure is a success. Every touchpoint you create, even ones that don’t work out exactly the way that you anticipated, brings you one step closer to reaching a new audience and engaging them in a different way … (Through trial and error organizations can) talk digitally and use technology without losing the essence of who they are as brands. — Amy Alvarez, vice president of marketing and communications for Make-A-Wish Georgia, which creates life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses

6. Be Persistent and Consistent

“Customers are at different levels of maturity in their digital experience journeys. Even very large companies, which may be mature in many regards, may not be ready to adopt all the technology it takes to meet customers today. They may find it challenging to scale their technology. They may be challenged to create enough content and personalization to get the full value of their technology platforms. It takes time. It also takes buy-in from the C-suite and from the board. Remember, digital transformation is not a one-time event. It’s not a single investment. It’s an ongoing investment and, and you have to iterate and continue to work at getting better.” — Eric Stoll, co-founder and CEO of Arke, a brand experience consultancy

7. Align People, Processes, Data, and Technology

“If there was a single thing I could tell people about digital customer experience, I would say to start any transformation journey with the customer in mind. Secondly, listen to your customers. The voice of the customer is the most powerful place to start to build your digital experience. Once you understand your customers’ wants and needs, you can couple that insight with data as the foundation of exceptional experiences. Finally, you need the right technology framework and the expertise to bring that technology to life. Arke and Sitecore, for example, are two essential pieces to making that happen.” — Mar Brandt, VP and Head of enterprise sales and accounts for Sitecore Americas

8. Stay Relevant Across Customer Touchpoints

“Customer experience in the digital era is more important than ever. Today, there are more ways than ever before for a customer or consumer to touch your brand. So you need to make sure as both a brand and a marketer to keep your brand is relevant and meaningful across all of the different touch points. Customers can experience your brand in so many different ways now. You need to make sure the experience is consistent and true to the meaning and mission of your brand.” — Michelle Montgomery, VP of marketing communications for Beautyrest at Atlanta-based Serta Simmons Bedding Co., a leading bedding manufacturer

9. Use Digital to Enhance Customer Experience

“We aim to provide an exceptional digital customer experience. We want to make our restaurant experience even faster, even more personal, even more convenient. This has absolutely been a challenge because our traditional experience is already very good. We had to find ways to make it even better. To do that, we’re constantly working with our operators, team members, and our customers. We need to understand their feedback. By understanding their perspectives, we can design digital experiences that are fully integrated with the customer and ultimately makes their experience that much more convenient and personal.” — Michael Lage, senior manager of digital experience at Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A, a family-owned restaurant chain

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10. Create the Best Possible Experiences

“All marketers today have to live up to the expectations being set by the most customer-centric companies. The question we have to answer is ‘How can we improve the experiences we’re giving our customers so we can move in that direction of meeting their expectations?’ That involves thinking not just about a product or service, but also creating an experience and a positive perception of that experience. Companies need to consider where they are today, think about the expectations of their customers, do what they can to understand the customer journey, and then think through the technology, data, processes, and resources they need to help them become more digitally mature.” — Margaret Wise, VP of Strategy at Arke, a brand experience consultancy

For More Information

Could your company benefit from better brand experience? Email Chris Spears or Margaret Wise for more information.

About Arke

Atlanta-based Arke develops strategies and implements digital technologies for better brand experience for your customers.