Humanising the Digital Experience

Mary Ellen DuganMary Ellen DuganApril 16, 20187min

As Customer Experience become increasingly digital, many businesses will need to overcome a critical flaw in the internet.

Left unchecked, this flaw could determine online success or failure. It’s a flaw that is already frustrating a new generation of web users. Put simply, the vast majority of digital experiences lack a human touch.

Tim Pritchard rightly notes in his recent article on Artificial Intelligence (AI) that whether it’s human or machine, people ultimately seek out interactions which feel personal. This is a challenge we’ve seen a number of our customers trying to address, such as Rightmove, the UK’s largest online real estate portal and property website, which uses AI to assist estate agents with identifying instruction opportunities.

It also explains why analyst firm Gartner predicts that investment in Digital Experience Platforms (DXPs), which power personalisation and discover hidden insights within your data, is the ultimate seat for AI to understand and improve the Customer Experience – from acquisition to loyalty. The DXP sector is expected to grow at a 14 percent compound rate and reach $18.4 billion by 2021.

When you look at Gartner’s definition of a ‘Digital Experience’ you’ll see that this is about a transformational quality the web brings to business and consumers. But when you see how younger, ‘born-digital’ generations perceive the web, the transformational qualities they seek are a far cry from most websites today.

First, you’ve got to accept that for most Gen Z audiences, there is little if any separation between a physical or digital experience. The internet is an integral part of their daily lives and they are rarely, if ever, disconnected from it.

A recently study conducted with The Center for Generational Kinetics showed that within as little as five years, 56 percent of these younger audiences believe the internet will determine what they do on a daily basis. In fact, many Gen Zers will happily provide more personal data if it leads to a more personalised, intuitive web. Organisations that don’t offer these predictive experiences will see nearly half of this generation switch them off.

Within this deeper, connective digital tissue there are profoundly different relationships forming. By 2020, it’s estimated that Gen Z will control 40 percent of consumer spending. But when they are making online purchases, unlike older generations, digital authenticity trumps security on their priority list. They care far more about who they are buying from online than how. This probably explains why a stunning one-in-two Gen Zers expect their visit to a website to become a more human, predictive experience.

But this demand for the human touch exposes a current flaw in most digital experiences today. Digital Experience Platforms, like humans, have evolved to move quickly, process incredible amounts of data, and adapt to emotional and functional needs dynamically.

 The main technology that underpins a DXP is a content management system (CMS). The most commonly used CMS is WordPress; this is in large part due to the fact that WordPress is the only CMS offering the flexibility and adaptability needed by today’s advanced Digital Experience Platforms. WordPress now powers 30 percent of the web including 37 percent of the 100 highest trafficked websites.*

 Still, there’s more to be done. Now, more than ever, technology and marketing need to work together to create a new paradigm with a truly human, digital Customer Experience. Open source WordPress coupled with the WP Engine Digital Experience Platform provides the performance, agility, intelligence and integrations needed so that marketers and technologists can focus on a more human Digital Experience with seamless delivery across all devices and through all channels.

To provide this more human Digital Experience, technologists and marketers must create an experience that is performant – if it doesn’t load in three seconds or less you will begin to rapidly lose users. And, it must be able to easily integrate with a broad range of technologies in the marketing technology stack (five thousand plus available today by our count).

Next, systems must be able to capture a broad range of data to support a smarter Customer Experience. Intelligence will help brands gain actionable insights on things like site and content performance that can inform and improve Customer Experience and impact. Above all else, you need a system that is agile, where you can spin up experiences, sites,  and campaigns, at a moment’s notice to capture an opportunity.

 Performance, integration, intelligence and agility: four ways to ensure your Digital Experience is supporting a more human-friendly Customer Experience.


Mary Ellen Dugan

Mary Ellen Dugan

Mary Ellen Dugan is CMO at managed WordPress platform WP Engine.




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