Ditch shiny objects and go back to basics, brands told

tech 2Brand owners must move beyond short-term thinking and their obsession with the latest “shiny object” and get back to basics by focusing on providing customers with better ways to engage with their brand that deliver elevated experiences.

That is one of the key conclusions of the 2023 Customer Experience Imperatives report by Dentsu-owned agency Merkle, which argues that the past few years have witnessed a wild recalibration of customer expectations, along with a profusion of new marketing technologies.

The adoption of tech platforms by brands was fast and furious in 2022, but in 2023, Merkle reckons brands should invest smarter, not faster.

This in turn will help firms to build a more enduring foundation for long-term success, while improving customers’ lives in tangible, meaningful ways and fostering loyal relationships with new and existing customers.

But while this may all sound like the same old marketing puffery, Merkle has actually backed up its claims with a three-step action plan:

First, brands should future-proof their organisation. There have been so many tech vendors vying for brands’ business that firms can lose sight of the “why” and “what” they are actually delivering for consumers, Merkle reckons. Bu ween it comes to delivering a complete, connected customer experience, there must be a shared vision for the total experience these investments are meant to support.

In 2023, brands should look inward to realign their CX mission, create a modern data foundation and agile delivery organisation, and evangelise their vision for the future state of customer experience.

Second, brands should reimagine their data and tech. Data is a goldmine of insight and opportunity but more often than not, companies only leverage a fraction of the power of the consumer data assets at their disposal. This results in optimisations that are transactional at best and a missed opportunity to use data in a way that reciprocates with relevance.

Merkle maintains that brands must focus on data unification, orchestration, and hygiene. These are all elements of a data strategy that are crucial to achieving a unified understanding of customers. Innovation doesn’t have to be splashy — or costly – to be effective; sometimes scaling a CX vision means using owned data in a new way.

Third, brands should make every experience a path to commerce. Consumers are looking for interactions that are tuned in, intelligent, and highly responsive; moments that work together to make shopping and life easier. Shopping doesn’t happen in a disconnected vacuum, so commerce shouldn’t be managed as a siloed function.

Instead, it should be at the very centre of digital transformation, to enable a total commerce experience for consumers who never stop shopping. Brands should view commerce as a powerful vehicle for building long term-relationships, as the emotional connection generated by a positive shopping experience pays dividends far beyond the checkout process.

Merkle global chief executive Michael Komasinksi said: “The focus on advancing tech and capabilities in the recent past makes 2023 the perfect opportunity for brands to turn their focus inward to tackle the expectation economy.

“Just as companies had to shift their strategy toward customers, they will now need to shift their own mindsets and behaviours to refocus on their ‘why’, providing customers with new or better ways to engage with their brand that deliver elevated experiences.

“If there’s one thing brands should take from these imperatives, it’s this: innovation and creativity must be your reward for doing the fundamentals well.

“When the foundation is there for a total experience approach – inclusive of sales, service, and commerce – a brand’s content and channels are working in sync to drive action and engagement beyond the point of transaction. Customers will turn from one-buy wonders to brand loyalists.”

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