One of the most exciting trends to emerge in 2015 is the increasing focus on customer experience. Maybe it’s because better customer experience has been correlated with revenue growth in most industries. Or maybe it’s a reaction to the still-confounding challenge of omnichannel marketing. But businesses have begun to make a profound shift from consumer marketing—with its inherent focus on raw acquisition—to consumer experience, which gives equal weight to acquisition, conversion, and retention.
One early sign of this transition is the disruption of the traditional marketing funnel. Instead of adhering to the strictly linear funnel model, businesses and marketers have adopted a view of the consumer that can more accurately be described as a journey. As consumers consider a purchase, for example, the number of products expands and shrinks—and may expand again. Brands fall out of the consideration set only to enter again at a later point. This consumer decision journey is cross-channel, lasts for an unpredictable amount of time, and is often influenced by non-rational factors. Targeting the experience of the customer during this period—and subsequent product and brand touch points—is critical.
Unfortunately, recent research has found only 17 percent of brands have the ability to fully analyze the customer journey. That 42 percent of respondents reported efforts to build such capabilities underscores the importance customer experience presents to businesses.
Currently, three challenges typically prevent businesses from effectively targeting the consumer journey and maximize the value of customer experience optimization as a result.
1. The technology is here, it’s just not evenly distributed
The first major challenge is a lack of access to the necessary technology. It’s not that this technology doesn’t exist—from advances in analytics platforms to the incredible increase in the sophistication of tag management systems, our ability to measure consumer behavior across numerous sites and channels, online and off, is better than ever. The problem, to paraphrase writer William Gibson, is that the technology is here, it’s just not evenly distributed. Many businesses still struggle to fully realize the capabilities of the technology they already have, let alone adopt advanced new platforms.
2. The necessary talent and expertise is still hard to find
Perhaps the biggest challenge of the three is the lack of analytics talent. The increasing complexity of the business problems associated with improving consumer experience—and size of the data involved—requires more than basic reporting and analysis. Instead, analysts must have not only modeling expertise, but a creative ability to draw meaningful conclusions from the data.
3. Effective process for uncovering and applying insights
Finally, businesses still struggle with the most fundamental component of improving customer experience—simply creating a process that gets the job done. The solution is far from simple, but it involves the cultivation of at data-oriented culture, an eagerness to test constantly, and an ability to apply learning to every iterative initiative.
These three factors—people, process, and technology—are currently the giant bricks in the wall that separates well-intentioned businesses from truly attaining a customer experience-focused approach to marketing and optimization. At the same time, for those businesses willing to address deficiencies directly, these three factors have the potential to form the foundation of a competitive advantage that will last long after the trendiness of “consumer experience” has faded.
Brooks Bell helps top brands profit from A/B testing, through end-to-end testing, personalization, and optimization services. We work with clients to effectively leverage data, creating a better understanding of customer segments and leading to more relevant digital customer experiences while maximizing ROI for optimization programs. Find out more about our services.