Customer Experience Featured Article

Websites Gear Up to Improve Customer Experience in 2015

December 29, 2014

Web surfing has settled into predictable patterns for consumers: when it comes to digital customer engagement, a basic Website with a click-to-email functionality, a pricing list and maybe some basic online ordering capabilities is the norm for 90 percent of business sites out there. But new research suggests that the content mix is due for a big change in 2015, especially when it comes to video and real-time interactions.

According to research from GigaOm, sponsored by Rackspace (News - Alert), the purpose of a website remains largely informational: it’s a place to surf to when curious about available product lines, business hours, addresses and contact information and the like. But consumers are actually looking for more, especially things like video testimonials and demonstrations, real-time inventory and shipping information, and personalized customer service capabilities. Those that deliver will be rewarded with loyalty, referrals and increased spending.

“Businesses that want to build lasting relationships between brands and customers must offer immersive, seamless Web experiences that attract and engage users,” the report said. “CIOs need to understand the new standard and new expectations for digital marketing, and IT leaders need to provide updated platforms for Web content management, e-commerce, social media, analytics and rich content.”

GigaOm calls this “experience commerce” — a fusion of interactive customer experiences with seamless online commerce.

Forrester Research (News - Alert) echoes the findings, and says that companies will increasingly be required to harness customer context to deliver self-perpetuating cycles of real-time, two-way, insight-driven interactions in order to stand out.

“As more interaction data floods customer databases and marketing automation systems, customer-obsessed marketing leaders will strive to orchestrate brand experiences that drive unprecedented levels of engagement,” explained Forrester analyst Carlton Doty, in a blog.

Digital marketing investments will drive brand experiences that make use of situational customer data across the customer lifecycle. By the end of 2015, spending on digital marketing will top $67 billion.

Behind the ideology however is a required investment in this mandate of contextual experience commerce. GigaOm noted that the key to enabling contextual interactions online is of course a high-performance IT infrastructure that can accommodate high bandwidth usage and rapid fluctuations in traffic, along with a solid customer-experience management systems. So, updated Web-content management platforms, the use of Web commerce analytics, the integration of e-commerce with engaging digital experiences like video and inventory engines, savvy partnerships and proper assessment of architectural requirements are all critical to enabling the vision.

Forrester added that in 2015, vendors will feel pressed to offer more sophistication in their offerings, to emphasize application integration and agency-packaged solutions.

Our evaluation…showed a vendor focus on the arduous process of knitting together the components of their applications in 2014,” Doty said. “In 2015, this effort will continue.”

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