Adobe Summit is one of the premier U.S. conferences for customer experience and experience marketing—and we were thrilled to be invited as “insiders” this year, with special access to events and panelists.
The conference was filled with technologists, marketers, and executives, and there were in-depth conversations on everything from automation to digital transformation around every corner. One of the biggest buzz worthy items was the state of CXM — customer experience management.
If you’re new to the term, or its corresponding practices, it can be a lot to take in.
So, here are three guiding principles that can collectively function as a north star for tackling the big question of: how to put the customer at the center of your business, and in the driver’s seat of their own journey.
- Leverage data
- Be purpose-driven
- Respect privacy
During the Summit’s opening keynote, Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen focused on the single most important point about modern CXM: “You may have millions of customers, but you must know them like they’re your only customer.”
The only way to do this seemingly impossible thing, of course, is to leverage data. Narayan walked attendees through Adobe’s Experience Cloud, which uses an AI-powered algorithm to deliver incredibly personalized content, recommendations, and more to a brand’s customers, while simultaneously providing brands with invaluable insights into customer behavior and preferences.
A few years ago, everyone in the tech retail space was sure Amazon would do to Best Buy what it’s done to countless other brands (here’s looking at you, Circuit City): put them out of business.
However, rather than go under, Best Buy decided to go big, and their gamble has paid off. Thanks to Joly’s leadership and a new strategy, the company actually reported a 3% increase in comparable sales during the fourth quarter ending Feb. 2, 2019.
And that effective new strategy is nothing if not purpose-driven. “Our purpose is to enrich lives with the help of technology. Make a big difference in people’s lives by addressing key human needs, whether it’s entertainment, productivity, communication, food preparation, security or health,” Joly told Narayan during one of the interview portions of the opening address.
To do this, Best Buy has not only focused on meeting Amazon’s prices and shipping speeds, but also using their stores as a kind of tech showroom, where customers can get hands-on with the gadgets and devices they’re considering buying. In addition, Best Buy offers in-home tech advisors to help customers design personalized technology solutions to meet their specific needs.
This expansion, versatility, and sustained relevance would not be possible without the larger purpose to guide initiatives and investments. If Best Buy still defined itself as an electronics store, many critical opportunities, and market segments, would have been missed.
Throughout the conference, the importance of privacy—especially in light of the European Union’s recent privacy law, GDPR—was frequently emphasized, especially by the Adobe leadership.
Narayan himself said that trust and transparency must be the foundation of data management, meaning that customers must know when their data is being gathered and how it’s being used. And these things shouldn’t be hidden away in lengthy Terms and Conditions agreements, but made clear upfront in plain, easy-to-understand language.
Adobe’s Consumer Content Survey, released in December 2018, revealed that an overwhelming 82% of consumers agreed they would stop purchasing from a brand if it crossed the line with a creepy, personalized experience.
The “creepiness” metric is one brands should pay close attention to as we develop more concrete best practices on where the boundaries lie. Ultimately, brands, engineers, and consumers will have to work together to spell out the tradeoffs between data and privacy, and this may ironically end up becoming one of the ways we move into greater personalization — by recognizing that individuals have different comfort levels with how their data is used, and accommodating those differences using informed consent.