Let's face it - as customers we have become quite a bit more demanding over the past few years.
We used to need food; today we need pre-measured, pre-shopped, farm-to-table, non-GMO ingredients delivered fresh to our doors with the step-by-step instructions on how to prepare the meal. We used to need shelter; today we ask for a five-stars hotel downtown with a big swimming pool and a concierge team that will respond to our request on Instagram real-time, at a discounted price.
And with this vast change in preferences and desires, marketers have also experienced the digitally motivated disruption at a very personal level - roles and job responsibilities are changing dramatically and most of our roles have been shaken to the core.
"We have changed from telling consumers what is it that we think they want, to having them tell us exactly what they want, as well as how, when and where they want it. We are no longer marketing for brand awareness, but something higher like brand purpose," said Brad Rencher, Adobe's executive vice president and general manager.
"The important note is that we should now move our focus from the products that we are selling, to providing an experience that closes the gap between people to make them feel special, which requires departments to join hands to bring it forth."
Quoting an example of the automotive industry which sees disruptions at every turn, Rencher said companies have to provide a great experience to make customers feel special, and create much needed room in the lives.
"If you think about mobile, the least interesting thing you can do with it today is make a call," he joked. "Similarly, the least interesting thing about the car soon will be driving it. The car has become an extension of a consumer’s life, and is becoming the ultimate experience pod. It begins even before a rider gets into the car."
"Keeping the status quo is not a strategy. Digital transformation is all or nothing," explained Shantanu Narayen, CEO of Adobe.
We have changed from telling consumers what is it that we think they want, to having them tell us exactly what they want, as well as how, when and where they want it.
To join the new experience business battleground, Rencher suggested companies review their current strategies in these four key areas:
1. Know me and respect me
The first step to transforming and creating customer experiences is always to get the company on the data first, Rencher advised.
"A lot of times, marketers and those looking to provide an experience get enamoured by, 'look, I can send an advertisement to your watch, or to your car,' and just because you can do it, doesn’t mean it’s the right thing for the experience," he said. "That’s one thing that we talk to a lot of our customers about: you have to make sure that you’re providing consumers with that value exchange.”
Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean it’s the right thing for the experience.
Context is an important cue for marketers to deliver the right experience. "Imagine when you first meet someone at a keynote, but then meet them again later at a bar. The interactions in both situations would be completely different."
To understand and predict what customers want might be easy to do in person, as you can judge when they call you or walk into your store, but it is more complicated to do in the digital world. Marketers can make use of opt-in information like customer feedback to predict and know their context, which help to determine the right experience.
Rencher added that marketers should always balance between providing a personalised experience and showing respect on the customers' privacy to avoid being creepy.
"As marketers we have a huge array of data at our fingertips, but much of this data is collected from watching our customers’ every move on different digital channels." The key takeaway is to execute meaningful personalisation strategies while not over-stepping the privacy mark.
2. Speak in one voice
"Fragmented, disparate tech just doesn't get you there," Rencher said.
From marketing, product teams, to customer service, companies and brands should create a seamless experiences powered by a unified voice, while keeping location and type of platform in mind.
3. Make technology transparent
All in all, the IT department will have a key role to play in orchestrating the possibilities of creating an experience for the customers, but companies should make sure they are behind the scenes.
"The medium is not the message, the experience is," Rencher explained. "Tech can help you deliver context at scale, and you have to adjust your data strategy to deliver it. It can be a catalyst to break down the walls, and unify content, data and workflow. However, companies should not make it about tech, and apply tech only when that is the right thing to do."
4. Delight me at every turn
An experience business will "delight at every turn", constantly elevating and staying in pace with the consumer.
"You need to rethink your entire content supply chain for better speed and scale," said Rencher. "When you're bound to legacy systems that weren't meant for the real-time digital age, it can seem impossible to transform, but you can't let that be an excuse. Optimising customer journeys can only happen if you master the milliseconds."
Adobe paid for the journalist’s trip to Adobe Summit 2017, held in Las Vegas.