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Composability set to be next big thing for digital experience platforms

Digital experience platforms are the latest word in increasing customer loyalty by engaging across all channels. Gaining real-time views of customers while managing data compliantly is critical

The pressure on organisations to offer excellent customer experience to each unique individual is growing. Today’s consumers have much lower levels of patience for businesses that fail to meet their exacting expectations, whether around service, availability, delivery or choice.

Rises in inflation rates and cost of living are driving a decrease in spending and consumers being more selective about what they buy, and where from. According to the latest EY Future Consumer Index, 42% of people will only buy from brands that align with their values, and 36% will only visit stores that offer great experiences.

Against this backdrop, a digital experience platform (DXP) could prove a vital investment for organisations. A DXP lets companies engage more effectively with their customers and use the data to optimise and automate their digital experience. The objective is to increase customer loyalty, boost brand awareness and, ultimately, improve business performance.

Legislation governing cookies and consent, coupled with increased concerns around data privacy, mean businesses need a new way of managing data and turning that into an understanding of customers, so they can fulfil those aims. A rebalancing of trust is required to demonstrate that if customers give brands their data, the brands will use that in a meaningful way to benefit individuals.

“A lot of our customers are looking to CDP [customer data platform] technology to enable that to happen, which is why we created the Real-Time CDP,” says Steve Allison, senior manager, strategic marketing EMEA, audience & data technologies at Adobe.

“The core part of the CDP is a profile containing the latest, greatest information about that customer that can be used to coordinate and activate that customer, making sure that everything we do for them is relevant to the context to that moment in time that they’re in.”

Streaming segmentation

Adobe has introduced streaming segmentation to help companies get a real-time view of customers while ensuring compliance with any legislation. The issue with traditional segmentation, which divides customers into groups that share similar characteristics, is that it relies on batch, often outdated information. Streaming segmentation changes the definition that an individual belongs to in real time, as they are interacting with the brand.

“When that information comes back, it has already re-evaluated you and said what your new segments are going to be,” says Allison. “That means you can be relevant far quicker and keep attention span far quicker with customers.”

These latest innovations in DXPs will enable firms to establish omnichannel personalisation without being hampered by delays in obtaining data or by disparate systems for different channels. This is down to CDPs with real-time data-processing capabilities over all the different systems feeding in and out of the platform, and machine-learning algorithms that offer the scale and speed of insights needed to translate this information into the next action.

“Businesses are able to drive a single conversation across any channel, jumping between the real world and the digital world, phones and web pages, and anything else that they use, like the new Metaverse coming up, to build that loyalty with the brand, rebuild the trust about giving data and give a much more responsive level of personalisation than we’ve ever done before,” says Allison.

The beauty of composability

Composability is currently one of the biggest trends in the DXP space. The next generation of DXPs will feature composable architecture as the foundation layer through which all the data, systems and fundamental infrastructure for the delivery of digital engagements can sit upon.

OpenText is supporting this flexible, composable approach via its Experience Cloud, which brings together tools for creating, managing and using content, experiences, communications and digital assets.

“It brings a pattern, not a prescription, to our customers,” says OpenText VP Guy Hellier. “This is not a monolithic platform.”

Companies can opt for the cloud service managed by OpenText or can run the technology in their own private datacentre cloud. They can also combine DXP elements such as the CMS, CDP and DAM from OpenText and integrate other capabilities they already have.

“They are all composable, and this is the way we are building it,” says Hellier. “By bringing in the CDP, this doesn’t in any way prevent our customers from using something else they may already have in place.

“It brings a pattern, not a prescription, to our customers. This is not a monolithic platform”
Guy Hellier, OpenText

“What we are doing is pre-building the pathway of a data flow and the use of tagging, so they are going to get to market that much faster by using our pattern, but the tools are open, they are able to be plugged into whatever data sources, whatever content sources our customers are using.”

On top of that composable architecture, a raft of highly flexible, agile, headless components and applications can sit. A headless approach involves decoupling content – whether a snippet, headline or image – from the presentation layer, so the end-user can receive a personalised experience dependent on the device they are using, their interests and their relationship with the brand.

“It allows for not only a high level of personalisation, but also digital channel contextualisation,” says Liz Miller, vice-president and principal analyst at Constellation Research. “Headless really decouples from not only the where someone is going to experience what you have built, but also the what fundamentally they are going to experience.

“The new focus of any DXP is to have the flexibility to not only bend toward where the organisation needs to be by way of composition and delivery and presentation layer, but also where the customers are going to be.”

Although this headless approach is increasingly popular, it will not suit every firm, many of which still have traditional headed websites and content management systems.

Miller adds: “While many businesses are now creating new points of engagement and experience ahead of the fashion, they can’t necessarily just blink their eyes overnight and their entire digital footprint is now headless or can be managed by a headless system.

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“The builders and the content creators don’t all live in an environment where headless is 100% possible. They need systems that allow flexibility to support headed environments, hybrid environments or a completely headless content management system.”

Another trend in the DXP space is ease of access for a broader range of users. OpenText will next turn its attention to developing a common user experience for the hundreds of different tools in the MarTech ecosystem. Currently, the onus is on end-users to visit different applications, such as project management or social publishing, to carry out different tasks. OpenText plans to start bringing those tools into a common unified experience.

Hillier says: “It’s not just marketing users, it’s business users, it’s the department that’s responsible for onboarding customers to new services where you’ve already acquired the customer, and now you need to go deliver the service itself.

“What we’re doing is bringing automation and analytics tools to business that marketing has been enjoying in more narrow marketing solutions.”

Improve customer relations

Whereas DXPs were initially embraced by organisations operating lots of different websites and digital experiences – retail, commerce, banking, insurance – they are now becoming much more important to any organisation wanting to improve customer relations. DXPs are reaching into customer service, enabling agents and managers to quickly deploy a new FAQ or answers page to help resolve an emerging challenge without needing to involve marketing or developers.

“Someone who has access in customer service can spin up that page quite quickly,” says Miller. “We’re starting to see deployments in product, in customer service, where the DXP is working to unify and normalise how any digital experience can be composed, developed and deployed, regardless of function of where that deployment needs to happen.”

Looking ahead, Miller believes artificial intelligence (AI) will have the biggest impact on DXPs. AI will be at the heart of everything from smart tagging to smart templates, layouts, assets – anything that can help and guide the user in their ability to create and deploy digital assets quickly.

“AI is really becoming central to the next phase of digital experience,” says Miller. “Not only does the end-customer thrive on personalisation, but it’s also all the people along the way that are building these digital experiences. The user and the developer also need that level of personalisation, that level of help, to do their jobs and be more successful.”

Case study: TSB Bank

TSB Bank is using Adobe Experience Platform and Real-Time CDP for its digital experience technology. The company is already seeing a 400% boost in loan applications just one year after going live by delivering more relevant offers and communication. Shifting across 7.5 million profiles to a centralised data platform and switching on personalised digital experiences led to a 200% jump in sales, while 92% of customers have made use of digital self-service.

Before the Adobe roll-out, TSB would collect data, segment customers and prospects into broad categories, and then target each of these segments with batch marketing materials. However, this often led to a fragmented understanding of individuals. Also, data was not shared between online and offline channels, leading to inconsistent experiences.

“The limitations of our legacy systems when it came to customer profiles and digital experiences threatened to knock TSB off course,” says Mike Gamble, director of analysis and design at TSB Bank. “We needed a complete picture of every person who banks with us, from their history to their needs, to how they move through the customer journey, and that meant centralising our data on a single platform.

“When a customer completing an overdraft form or loan application on our app meets a friction point, the best-case scenario is that they call our contact centre for help. The worst case is that they give up, which is a lose-lose. Adobe is helping us to spot and eliminate these drop-off points, so we can optimise our journeys to deliver wins for our customers and TSB alike.”

Adobe Real-Time CDP combines data from TSB’s online and offline channels, which can be consolidated from multiple sources and applied to campaigns instantaneously. 

TSB can instantly record in-branch interactions and use that insight to inform follow-up marketing efforts online, such as extending a specialised mortgage offer based on prior interactions in-branch, or provide branch tellers with information so they can recommend relevant products based on a customer’s online interactions with the bank.

Case study: Viking

Office supplies company Viking is using Qualtrics technology to enhance its customer experience. Speaking to a group of journalists at Sapphire in The Hague in May 2022, Cameron Black, head of technology and data at Viking Europe, explained: “Our transformation is focusing on where do we want to be special, and for us that’s in the interface with the customer, what can we do to make that as easy as possible, as simple as possible.

“But it’s also how can we really listen to what people want and what their needs are in terms of technology and services. So simple, scalable, automated – that’s more of our technology mantra – but that has led to a business transformation as well, where we’re looking to make sure that we are efficient and focusing on the right things for our customers.”

Qualtrics makes it much easier for the retailer to identify and fix any friction points in the customer journey. While Trustpilot is a great source of customer information and feedback, Black notes that the reviews website does not give the depth of insight on where customers are on their journey offered by Qualtrics. Viking has also seen benefits from carrying out an annual customer survey.

“We’ve had some very specific feedback on the returns part of our journey,” says Black. “We would have struggled to find where our customers were actually having the pain point in the journey on returns without Qualtrics. Trustpilot and those are really powerful tools, but it can be quite hard to get to the actual problem.”

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