By Dion Picco, VP Product Management at Progress
For the past decade, websites have sat at the core of any business’ digital footprint as the primary source of knowledge and customer experience. The rapid increase in the volume and diversity of connected devices and user interfaces, from wearables to chatbots, means that users can access information across various channels and move between different devices seamlessly. In doing this, they expect the same high-quality and secure experience at all times.
It is becoming widely accepted that customer intimacy, alongside customer journey optimisation and engagement, needs a multichannel approach. This includes applications and chatbots, alongside websites, all working together seamlessly. What we are seeing is not the death of websites per se, but the shift towards a broader customer engagement platform. This platform will need to leverage cognitive technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to ensure all channels work together in harmony, allowing for 360-degree customer engagement.
Why is web customer experience hard to get right?
Customer experience is a critical success factor for any business, as it shapes brand perceptions and heavily influences customer engagement, conversion and advocacy. Websites are often the first touch point between a brand and a potential customer, and the user experience they offer can make or break that relationship.
While many organisations say their websites are at the heart of their digital strategy, many make mistakes that can have a negative impact on engaging customers. Here are some of the key challenges organisations are facing:
- Websites can be forgotten
One of the mistakes that marketers often make is treating their websites as the extension of their sales brochures. Often information is aggregated and presented in a way that resembles a sales pitch, rather than encouraging customer engagement. Websites often fall down the list of digital assets that should be updated in real time, as marketers sometimes focus on more ‘direct’ channels like social media, apps and chatbots.
- Content and data silos can ‘kill’ customer experience
An organisation’s marketing and customer relations infrastructure often looks like a maze of IT systems. Each of them has a specific function such as web content management, campaign management and social marketing. Often these systems do not communicate and there is no single source where their data is gathered. As a result, an organisation cannot leverage the full potential of its customer data for content personalization and customer interactions. This affects the quality of the content delivered, leading to a disjointed customer experience.
As the customer journey has fundamentally changed with the shift to the digital world, marketers need to rethink what their website does for them, and view customer engagement in a more holistic way.
The shift to a digital experience platform
Digital customer experience is a great example of why the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Consumers not only like using an increasing number of digital channels and platforms, but also wish to quickly switch between them. In doing so, they expect quality and consistency of experience.
To make this work to their benefit, marketers need to shift their attention from just making these different interfaces work together. Instead, they should look to deploy a customer engagement platform that can bring two great benefits: leveraging backend data to deliver personalised experience and deploying multichannel management to deliver consistent experiences.
More specifically, by harnessing the power of AI and ML, marketers can leverage predictive analytics to get actionable, 360-degree insights on customer segments and their individual journeys across different platforms. In this way, they can study behavioural patterns, single out the most promising leads and deliver relevant messages that resonate with their audiences, maximising their opportunities for engagement and customer conversion.
Cognitive capabilities also empower marketers to effectively manage the entire multichannel experience from a single interface, making the process faster, easier and more user-friendly. Marketers can complete daily tasks such as sharing content, assets and resources in a frictionless way without having to rely on IT. This reduces costs and increases productivity, as resources are used more efficiently and focused where they are actually needed.
So are websites still relevant in the ‘multiple screen’ day and age? The answer is yes, but they must be just one part of a broader multichannel platform that reaps the benefits of all customer touchpoints. A customer engagement platform, powered by the latest technology, delivers powerful customer experiences and stays relevant longer. In a fast-changing technology and business landscape, this is definitely a competitive advantage.