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Making Customer Experience Your Business

Offering a strong product or service is no longer enough when trying to build advocates for your brand. Today’s consumer - whether in a B2B or B2C environment - demands a strong experience to be transformed into brand fans. And companies are embarking on digital transformations to meet this requirement.

Adobe recently hosted a one-day customer event designed to inspire attendees on their digital transformation journeys within their organisations, and to highlight the role that digital signatures can play in assisting this process.

Mark Greenaway, Director Digital Media and Emerging Business at Adobe, began the day by explaining that Adobe's focus is on helping their clients with their customer experiences. In business, the signature process can be a breaking point, but digital signatures can help enhance continuity.

Customer experience was the key theme for the day, and Greenaway noted that, for a loyal connection, organisations need to create an end-to-end customer relationship. This is an organisation-wide endeavour, and it does not just involve technology, it is vital to bring the organisation's people and processes along too.

Putting experience at the heart of business

Following the welcome from Greenaway, David Burnand, EMEA Enterprise Marketing Director at Adobe took to the stage to delve deeper into the day’s main theme. He began by noting that experience is about emotion and how you feel when you interact. This drastically affects how you feel about a brand. Burnand added that it doesn't matter where an interaction happens, it is vital to make it seamless.

Adobe and Goldsmiths, University of London have carried out research into the customer experience. Part of the research involved using 'loyalty bots' that track how people feel about their brand interactions. Some of the key findings include that, in the digital age, loyalty is less affected by the physical location of products. Consumers are time poor, so convenience is a top priority. It is also easier and cheaper for disruptors to gain consumer loyalty today.

The research found that 51% of consumers are prepared to buy from an unknown brand based on recommendations. The breadth of recommendations online provides the consumer with far greater expertise than ever before, with hundreds of personal reviews contributing to an item's star rating. This has a profound effect on brand loyalty.

Four-fifths (80%) of the people that Adobe and Goldsmiths surveyed agreed with the statement: "I am loyal to brands that offer delightful experiences." To help illustrate what organisations can do to ensure this is what they are offering customers, Burnand set out the 'ABCDs' of customer loyalty:

  • Adaptive: Give customers adaptive experiences.
  • Be where the customer wants to be.
  • Choices: Help customers to filter their choices.
  • Differentiate through immersive experiences.

As well as being a guide to delivering excellent customer experience in the consumer sphere, Burnand noted that these can just as readily be transferred to the B2B world and to company experiences as well. He concluded by underlining that that customer experience is a key differentiator in business today, and organisations need to ensure that they put experience at the heart of their business, before a competitor does.

Practical steps to enhance customer experience

Customer experience is clearly vital for businesses to be competitive, but it can also be really hard to get right. Ed Thompson, VP CX Analyst Research at Gartner, spoke to the audience about how they can begin to address the issue at their organisations.

The first step is to ensure that your executives understand why customer experience is so important to the company. Find out what your organisation is already working on in this regard, across the various business areas. When you know this, you can coordinate and define the scope. An important step in this process is to appoint a customer experience (CX) leader. There are around 5000 out there today, and Thompson noted that this is the only executive title where women dominate (approximately 70%). Any efforts should also involve a broad range of departments. Lots of different areas of the business are involved in shaping the customer experience, it is a collaborative effort.

Thompson commented it is vital that the CX effort not get trapped in one department of the business, as it can easily lose control of the issue that way. Take every input from customers and set benchmarks for metrics that allow you to hold them accountable.

Measuring the impact of the customer experience can seem daunting as there are a wide variety of metrics to choose from. The service-profit chain methodology was mentioned by Thompson as one option. This starts by measuring employee engagement, which has a knock-on effect to quality operations, customer satisfaction, loyalty churn retention, and brand advocacy. Thompson said that some 95% of the time this methodology works, but that research has shown that only 13% of employees are engaged at work. Companies need to really focus on the area of employee engagement as the bedrock of this methodology.

Proving return on investment (ROI) is crucial to the success of CX projects, but Thompson noted that it is quite common for these to take between three to five years to pay back. This is a long time, particularly if you need to convince the board or senior management of the benefits of investing in customer experience. In this context, switching to digital signatures can provide a short-term payback on CX. They also provide very defined results. Thompson said that implementing digital signatures is one of the top 10 ways to achieve enhance customer experience.

Driving business value

Mark Grilli, VP Adobe Document Cloud, emphasised the role that digital signatures can play in enhancing customer experience with some statistics that Adobe had commissioned from Forrester Consulting into the impact of Adobe Sign. With this solution, the average time to get a signature is 21 times faster. In fact, approximately 50,000 hours has been saved over three years and it has demonstrated 383% earned ROI.

Providing a case study, Grilli described that having digitised its HR processes, Telefónica achieved 92% time savings on employee contracts returned and their employee onboarding process has been reduced from 9 days to 1 day.

Chris Rothwell of Microsoft joined Grilli on stage to talk about the partnership between the two companies. He said this was underpinned by a shared focus on CX. All clients are facing changing customer expectations and digital interaction is expected by customers. For businesses to empower digital, Rothwell encouraged the audience to think of Adobe Sign operating as part of Office 365 and other Microsoft products, allowing organisations to build a 360-degree view of their customer.

Grilli suggested to the audience that a good place to get started it to find an area in their organisation that isn't the most critical and apply digital signatures there first. This enables you to prove ROI in your company's language that can help drive the digitisation project further.

Case studies

Throughout the event, there were a number of customer case studies from companies that have implemented digital customer engagement programmes. From a financial services perspective, we heard from Craig Johnson, Global Multi Channel Retail Banking and Wealth Management at HSBC, who led the deployment of Adobe Sign at the bank.

As an organisation, HSBC is engaged in a big transformation project for both employees and customers. A key focus of this is to provide omni-channel customer journeys in the customer’s preferred time, location and device. They are doing this through digital support - live chat and live share - and remote engagement, such as real-time appointment booking, live connect video and live sign. Johnson described remote engagement as providing a genuine alternative channel to the traditional bank branch.

With the remote engagement model, it is vital not to be siloed. A video call between a bank advisor and a customer is great, but the benefits of this would be undermined if the process then stalls for a couple of weeks waiting for paperwork. HSBC looked holistically at where it interacts with the customer on paper. With live sign, Johnson described how the bank agent can send an encrypted document link to the customer. Much of the form can be digitally prepopulated with information that the bank already knows, saving time and ensuring accuracy.

Johnson showed how video chat and documentation signatures can be combined in one digital interaction between the bank advisor and the customer - a pre-recorded video example showed Johnson and a customer agreeing upon mortgage documentation during a video chat. You can send a signature request to a mobile, have it signed on the mobile device and have it as part of the audit trail.

In one of the breakout sessions later in the day, Andrew Dacombe, Director of Colleague Systems at TalkTalk described the digitisation of the company's procurement processes. The challenge the company faced involved 1500 statements of work (SOW) with a four-week average internal signing process time at £16 cost per document. Dacombe described how no work could happen without a signature, which created a real logjam in the process. If an employee is working offsite, for example, they may not be able to print, sign, or scan a document.

To tackle this issue, TalkTalk adopted Adobe Sign. Dacombe explained that they moved the SOW process to digital signatures first as it was an obvious step. The next part of the process was to educate the teams, changing the culture to be more agile. Dacombe said that this final part was an unexpected challenge, and his main takeaway was that this part is what takes the time, and if you are going through this process, you should involve legal and security stakeholders as early on in the process as possible.

The results of TalkTalk's digitisation of procurement have been impressive. Dacombe said that the cost per document is now less than £2, while the average signing time is less than 4 days. All documents are stored online, meaning there is far less printing. He made the point that the company has not used the cost savings to axe staff but rather that it allows existing staff to focus on value-added work rather than administration.

Chatting to Finextra during the event, Adobe's Mark Greenaway highlighted his company's own deployment of the solution: "On our client engagement side, we are using Adobe Sign to speed up the process of getting contracts signed and to improve the experience for our customers interacting with us."

Greenaway also highlighted how the digitisation of the signature process can be beneficial for both the company implementing the solution and their end clients as well: "For the end user, there is a win in the time to service, time to completion on items such as mortgages in the financial services industry, for example. This can be simplified greatly through digital signatures. On our customers' side, not only does this save them time and cost, but the error rate that is also reduced. Think of the consequential calls where something is lost or not clear - that can be eliminated from the process as well."



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