Tailored online experiences that reflect relationship-dependent brands

Part 1: Tailored experiences

January 16, 2020 • 5 minute read

This is part one in a four-part series exploring how relationship-dependent brands need to tailor their audience’s online experiences as they would in other areas of business. During the four parts, we explore trends of content customization, live chat and chatbots, as well as methods of disseminating content to provide more personalized, meaningful experiences for clients on digital platforms.

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I don’t know about you, but I like being recognized at my local coffee shop and having my drink remembered by the barista. I choose my coffee shop because the in-store service style is perfect for me and the range of products suits my needs (enough options, but not too much choice). My coffee shop experience is efficient, personal and positive. I feel like the coffee shop knows me.

This is all about brand experience. I like what this brand offers me personally. Why should it be any different with the online experience?

When I visit a digital platform that greets me with ‘Welcome back, Jed’ I have the same feeling – that my time spent here will be productive, personal and positive. If I’m served with language and an interface that’s familiar, and content that suits my needs, I feel like the brand knows me.

In this report I won’t be talking about coffee, but about how similar brand experiences can be created for online audiences – visitors to websites, campaign hubs, social channels, intranets, etc. How can you take this curated real life experience that users enjoy and translate it to a digital scenario?

This is especially pertinent for brands that are relationship-driven or relationship-dependent. When client engagement and excellent customer service are everything, positive and personal client experiences must translate across physical, environmental and digital moments.

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Brands are constantly seeking more effective ways to articulate their values in ways that resonate with their audiences. I speak to numerous brand professionals who describe their organizations as ‘relationship-oriented’ or client centric’ – meaning that their clients, above concepts like innovation or heritage, are what make them distinctive and drive their business. For these brands, a lot of attention goes into ensuring client experience is the priority. Face-to-face efforts are professional and tailored, events and hospitality ensure the client is well catered for, and the ultimate product or service must be responsive, uniquely relevant and above all useful.

A question remains, however: if this much effort goes into ensuring the client’s physical experience of a brand is unique, shouldn’t their digital experience be similarly pertinent?

Customer experience (CX)

PwC's seminal 2018 report on 'The Future of Customer Experience' provides an abundance of survey findings that prove the importance of client experience for businesses trying to differentiate themselves from competition and increase revenue.

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There’s a clear parallel between a visitor to your website and a visitor to your office building.

A first-time visitor to your physical space will arrive, quickly become familiar with the reception area and give their details and reason for visiting – imparting simple personal information to ensure their experience is pleasant and swift. They may also draw judgements on the interior design, atrium background music and newspapers or brochures on display. Each of these ‘small’ experiences or touch points feeds into a broader ‘brand reaction’.

A returning client may arrive and like to be recognized. If staff remember key information, the client’s experience will instantly be more amicable and positive.

Now let’s imagine the visitor arrives at your website for the first time. With foundational experience in websites, they should quickly become familiar with the home page setup and basic site architecture – an intuitive interface and clear signposting helps here. They will also draw judgements on the design, the landing page video or music and the special reports or brochures on display.

A returning client may arrive and like to be recognized… but here’s where the parallel often breaks down. Even after a second, third, tenth visit to your website, an existing or potential client has to go through the same journey to reach the information they seek. Repeat visits to websites often yield exactly the same impersonal experience, and the customer relationship hasn’t moved forward.

This year’s Digital Trends report by Econsultancy and Adobe concluded that the most successful companies are delivering personalized customer experiences, that evolve and improve over time. Audiences are time-poor, so user empowerment is important and digital experiences must be user-centric.

Underlying this is the importance of customer data. Providing tailored digital experiences that equate to physical, offline experiences is not a pre-packaged commodity that can be simply purchased and deployed. It involves thorough understanding of your audiences and a nuanced approach to content.

The report discusses the importance of customer data, but also the greater control and responsibility required when collecting and using this data. We will acknowledge the potential downfalls of this in more detail in parts two and three of the series.

“Regardless of which industry brands operate in, they have one thing in common: the need to constantly adapt to the new world of digital interactions.”

CMO by Adobe

Over the following few weeks, we will explore key ways in which brands are providing tailored digital experiences for their audiences in a series of four posts. Many of the tactics we will review are becoming commonplace when browsing websites or consuming content – you may not even realize that your experience is any different to the next person.

However more and more case studies provide statistics and evidence proving the financial and growth benefits of providing personalised experiences for clients – therefore we are seeing the right technology being used in the right ways. But where can you start?

I must add that in some industries, concepts such as personalized content or chatbots may seem years away. But we learn time again that UX and technology trends that do work in contemporary B2B industries usually become valuable, industry-agnostic best practices. So, if anything, here’s what the future of online brand experiences holds.

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Stay tuned for part two of our online brand experience trends report on tailored content – personalization vs customization.

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