Customer Experience Evolution: Great Website is No Longer Enough
Added by Paul Gillin on Sep 18, 2012
As customers spread their online activities throughout a variety of social networks and devices, the task of creating useful and memorable Web experiences has become more complex. Websites are no longer simply billboards. They need deliver rich content, interactive features and search engine optimization on every page, and they need to deliver it on any device the visitor chooses.
Gary Dolsen is Director of Exceptional Web Experience Solutions at IBM, a role that encompasses the IBM Customer Experience Suite and Social Business Software. In this Q&A interview, he speaks about what encompasses an exceptional Web experience and what IBM is doing to help customers achieve it.
Can you start by defining what the Customer Experience Suite is all about?
One of the biggest problems organizations have had with traditional websites is that they weren’t very personalized. Companies now know they need to pay close attention to the social world and they also need to provide rich content. The Customer Experience Suite encompasses a package of capabilities like personalization, rich content, mobile, Web analytics and social all wrapped together.
What are some of the best practices you're seeing emerge in this area?
One is the idea of responsive design, or sites that are mobile-enabled from the beginning. This has involved some organizational change. Three years ago most marketing organizations had a group for dot-com sites, another for mobile access and another focused on social. Now they’re collapsing those groups into a single organization and coming at paid, owned and earned content more holistically. They’re building a single property that knows what kind of device the user has, that can deliver content appropriately.
How does that affect user navigation?
Navigation is now important both within a single site and across properties. Customers see their visitors starting on a dot-com site and then moving to a social property, or the other way around. They may be using social as a “bug light” to pull people back to a dot-com or a splash page. IBM’s Customer Experience Suite handles single-site navigation brilliantly, and we’re now handling other social properties as well.
Can you give us an example using Facebook?
For example, our customers can now leverage OpenID technology, so visitors can use Facebook credentials to log on to a dot-com site. Now we’re adding technologies that let you publish the same content on your dot-com site to Facebook. This has big productivity benefits. For example, I sometimes ask people if they had to change a pixel in their logo, how many places would they need to go? Now you can use a Web content management system to publish a change to multiple properties.
Customer self-service is becoming a popular feature. How are you accommodating that trend?
I'll give you a couple of examples. About four years ago the Royal Bank of Canada put together a digital initiative to be the best online bank in Canada. They went from number five in online banking in Canada to number one. They made sure you could do everything you needed to with a bank in the middle of the night in your pajamas without making a phone call.
Dallas Children’s Hospital put together a community on its site so that families of patients can get services, make appointments and get patient records at any time. We supported both of these initiatives.
What are some of the best practices customers are using these days to capture and keep website visitors?
Simplification is a trend. People aren’t trying to jam as much onto a page as they used to. They're taking more of a Google-like approach to simplicity now. That means starting with business outcomes and making it brutally easy to achieve them given the real estate you have on the main screen. You need to be disciplined about what you’re trying to achieve and what actions you need to drive. A lot of our customers come to us today looking to create a new set of messages and awareness.
Customers also want to weave in Web analytics to understand what people are really doing once they get to a site. They can use Web Experience with IBM Coremetrics to measure the effectiveness of dynamic content through tactics like A-B split testing. They can overlay analytics on a visual of the screen and use technology like TeaLeaf, which IBM recently acquired. That’s an interesting company that allows discovery of patterns in usage and lets you replay actual user sessions.
Tell us one thing you'd like to see customers stop doing, one thing they should start doing and two things they should continue doing.
Stop organizing marketing groups the old way. It’s difficult to create exceptional user experience if you have separate groups for mobile, social and traditional digital marketing. Cultural changes need to happen if you're going to integrate everything.
They should start personalizing the Web experience as much as possible. I know that five years ago a lot of people were taken by surprise when they saw Website customization in action, but now it’s expected. Customization may be at the specific user ID level or based upon demographics or behaviors. For example, understand that If I just had a child, I want to hear more about diapers than Ferraris, so give me that information.
They should continue growing the partnership between the CMO and the CIO and investing in Web analytics and predictive measurement so they deliver that customized experience. The partnership between marketing and IT will be critical to ensure the right content is communicated to clients, while the right data and information and social sentiment is analyzed to impact the right markets and audiences.