Customer Experience Catch-Up: How APAC Marketers are Racing Towards CXM Maturity

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This year may very well be known to marketers as the year that Customer Experience Management (CXM) was taken seriously. Hastened by the upheavals of the coronavirus pandemic, CXM focus moved almost overnight from delivering personal interactions in real-time, to supporting critical needs in an exclusively digital world.

As businesses scramble to differentiate themselves online, customer experience management maturity – the ability to orchestrate and personalise the entire end-to-end customer experience, at scale, on any channel, in real time – may now be the key to survival.

This attitude is reflected in Adobe & Econsultancy’s 2020 Digital Trends report, which found brands classified as customer experience (CX) leaders are three times more likely than their peers to have significantly exceeded their 2019 business goals.

The first half of 2020 has seen the customer experience technologies and strategies of APAC businesses thrown into sharp relief. According to the report, the region lags behind the rest of the world in terms of CXM maturity, with only 7% of APAC organisations considering themselves mature in delivering CX, compared to 11% for the Rest of the World (ROW).

Within APAC, regions differ in their CX maturity, and in their interpretation of how they can accomplish superior customer experiences. According to the 2020 Digital Trends Report, China leads in the region with 12 per cent of companies rating themselves mature. Australia and New Zealand lag behind at just 3 per cent.

So what are the common CXM success factors for marketers across the APAC region? According to the 2020 Digital Trends Report, two significant priorities are developing technology infrastructure and capabilities, and compelling content.

Technology infrastructure – take the time

Having technology infrastructure and capabilities in place is critical to CX success, according to Mark Gretton, chief technology officer at media and advertising agency CHE Proximity. Gretton says critical to the success of any technology investment strategy is an investment in time. Data-driven programmes require ongoing testing, learning, and optimisation focus to grind out the returns.

“Businesses will set themselves up for success if they set realistic KPIs, factored against a business case. One that includes not just software costs, but the set-up, operational model and ‘ramping up time’, Gretton says.

While tech spending in APAC has grown significantly in recent years, it’s important for marketers to align their investments with strategy if they are seeking to drive business growth.

“Starting with the technology is the equivalent of visiting a clothing sale and asking yourself the question “What do I need to buy?”. If you don’t know you need it already, you might not need it at all,” Gretton says. “Never start with the technology. Start with the use cases of what you are trying to achieve, albeit informed with the knowledge of possibility.”

Technology investment is already transforming digital marketing in China and India. According to the 2020 Digital Trends Report, both countries are already leading adopters of technology aimed at improving CX, including Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML).

Government investment is fuelling an innovation drive in both countries. According to the 2020 Digital Trends Report, the Chinese government is building a $30bn AI fund, and India’s central government is earmarking nearly half a billion dollars of investment in AI technologies.

Better payment technologies and mobile marketing experiences will be India’s challenge of 2020, while the AI industry will find China particularly exciting to watch.

In A/NZ, Gretton points to loyalty programme Velocity Frequent Flyer as an example of how clever investment in technology drives CXM.

“When your business is 100% built on your ability to influence behaviour through personalised motivation programmes, and you have access to the data sets that they do, then you’re definitely starting from a great foundation,” Gretton says.

“The flybuys team have also built up an amazingly sophisticated operational capability for personalised customer experiences which I can only see going from strength to strength,” he says.

The power of compelling content

While 19% of APAC marketers in Adobe’s 2020 Digital Trends report agree that optimising the customer experience is a top priority for 2020, 14% of APAC marketers indicated that this is only possible if you’re communicating with audiences through compelling content.

Video is key to content success for India and China, who stand out in the region for a greater focus on using video to improve brand engagement.

Poor regional fixed line broadband in both countries has made mobile the de facto communication channel. With 4G and 5G rolling out to support the extra bandwidth of video, Forrester predicts mobile video consumption in Asia will triple between 2017 and 2022.

Global aerial imagery and data company Nearmap are an example of leveraging sophisticated, augmented video to improve brand engagement.

Described as a ‘brain break’ for harried customers dealing with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, ‘Landscapism’ mixes vivid vertical landscapes from Nearmap’s global library, augmented by animation, set to a binaural soundscape designed specifically to “take advantage of the headphones we’re all wearing for video meetings these days.”

“Customer experience is more than just an email cadence or a helpful support call, although these are important. It’s also about developing a relationship with customers, bringing them into our world and, rather than just saying we care, actually demonstrating that attitude,” says Harvey Sanchez, chief marketing officer at Nearmap.

Maximising organisational collaboration and reinterpreting success were key to Nearmap’s deployment of Landscapism. They decided to focus on seeing assets accessed and shared, viewers watching the whole video (at 7 minutes, they’re actually taking a break) and return visits.

“Traditionally, Nearmap has had a straightforward educational, case study and webinar approach to driving customer engagement, so Landscapism was an opportunity for us to work, experiment and collaborate across teams and regions to support our customer experience efforts,” said Sanchez.

“We wanted to bring the imagery to life and also create an experience that the audience would pause for, and they have.”

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