Computers and artificial intelligence have come along at an exponential rate over the past few decades, from being regarded as oversized adding machines to the point where they have played integral roles in some legitimately creative endeavours.
Many of Australia’s largest brands are coming up short in delivering the digital experiences their customers really want, a recent survey found.
Experts say staying competitive in the new digital economy means understanding how to deliver a delightful, personalised omni-channel customer journey. Yet SAP’s Australian Digital Experience report, revealed almost half of the report’s 3000 respondents (47 per cent) were unsatisfied with the digital experiences delivered by 34 of the nation’s largest organisations. Of those consumers identified as unsatisfied with their digital experience, just 17 per cent stated they would remain loyal to the brand.
The report also identified a link between the digital experience and core business outcomes. Consistently across the brands assessed, poor digital experiences can translate to loss of customer loyalty and advocacy, two key metrics which impact on top-line revenue.
In contrast, if a brand can provide a strong digital experience, the picture is completely different. Of those consumers delighted with their digital experience, almost three quarters (73 per cent) said they would remain loyal.
“The first big takeout from the survey is that there is a gap between what the brands deliver and what the consumers expect,” president and managing director, of SAP Australia and New Zealand, John Ruthven, told CMO. “The research also shows that the gap matters. A delightful experience would result in a consumer four times more likely to remain loyal to that brand compared to the other end of the spectrum. “
The SAP report was based on consumers rating nearly 7000 digital interactions against 13 core attributes of a delightful digital experience including engagement, personalisation, responsiveness and simplicity.
“In today’s digital world, the consumer is in full control,” Ruthven said. “Brands need a much deeper understanding of their digital-experience performance if they are to keep their customers and stay competitive.”
To meaningfully improve the digital experiences they deliver, the report stated that brands need to better engage with consumers and develop deeper insight into the service they expect. From the 13 digital experience attributes respondents rated, three key consumer preferences stand out that brands should focus on to improve their digital experience score:
- Be who I am: Respondents want experiences that are dedicated to them as individuals, experiences that appeal to or even predict their preferences, but without infringing on their privacy.
- Engage me: An engaging digital experience is one that responds to consumers and allows them to interact with and control the experience when needed. An engaging experience triggers an emotional response from the customer, building a stronger connection to the brand.
- Simplify my life: Service that’s simple just works, and consumers expect this from the brands they interact with. A digital experience should be cohesive, integrated and easy. It has to fit in with the consumer’s life effortlessly, available anytime, anywhere.
The research also revealed the significance of a brand’s digitally influential customers and those highly engaged and vocal on social media and online commerce. Though making up only 9 per cent of all respondents, these digital influencers delivered an extremely high digital experience score of positive 33 per cent across all industries, underscoring the importance for brands to cultivate the digital competency of their customer base.
“The perfect digital experience depends on how well brands understand and engage relevantly with their individual customers and at the same time, how well their processes and people are aligned to deliver,” Ruthven said. “Consistent across the best performing brands in our research is a data-driven approach to the digital experience that brings the front and back office together to delight the customer. This sets them apart from their competition.”
Who is ahead and who is lagging
While the industry analysis revealed the grocery retail industry is the leading performer when it comes to digital experiences, on the whole it had more unsatisfied consumers than ‘delighted’ ones. Banking and insurance were the next best performers, with telecommunications and utilities scoring lowest.
Suncorp Insurance scored highest for the digital experience attributes of available ‘anytime and on my terms’ (50 per cent) and ‘respectful and dedicated to my needs’ (34 per cent). Overall, the organisation scored positively across 11 of the 13 attributes. Suncorp Insurance also had a higher than average percentage of digitally influential customers at 13 per cent.
“Our customers are increasingly turning to the convenience of digital,” head of PI e-commerce and specialist brands for Suncorp Insurance, Ivan Owide, said. “Our focus is to ensure we deliver continuous improvement in the service we offer across all our platforms, with particular emphasis on the continuing rapid growth in mobile.”
Head of marketing for SAP Australia and New Zealand, Jennifer Arnold, said those brands engaging effectively understand the power of customer insights and know what customers want.
“Look at all the channels you are using right now, like social media, partners and market research and put it into a single view of your customer and understand the buyer behaviour and buyer journey,” she said. “It’s very different from a retail perspective, to a B2C perspective, to a B2B scenario.
According to Ruthven, statistics in Australia for the last fiscal year revealed total ecommerce transaction were close to 20 billion. Importantly, the last six months of that was up 21 per cent compared to the prior year, he said.
“So we’ve seen an acceleration of the digital economy,” he added. “Moving forward, more and more transactions will be done this way. As a result, consumers are expecting a consistent and personalised experience in an omni-channel context, regardless of whether they coming from the storefront, shopping online or making inquiries over the phone.”
From a B2B perspective, Arnold claimed the proliferation of online purchase behaviour and the rise of the new digital economy has meant significant changes in buyer behaviour. In many cases, digital interaction is now the only interaction that a brand may have with their customers.
“Where we used to have customer calling us up asking for information or for a sales rep to come out and talk to them, now they come to us, pretty much with a shortlist and they’ve done all their education online and they’re engaging much later in the sales cycle,” she said. “We have to shift a lot of our focus to the digital experience.”
To remain competitive in the new digital economy, Ruthven said brands need to pay attention to really getting to know the customer, access data across all customer touchpoints and then personalise real-time offers.
“It is all about engaging your customer and ensuring there is an alignment of the way you interact across all of your channels,” he said. “We really believe the industry has moved past salesforce automation to really understanding your customer and having a tailored omni-channel experience.”
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