The four pillars of a modern digital experience architecture
- Posted on July 22, 2021
- Estimated reading time 6 minutes
After working with organizations of all sizes, across a broad range of industries, it’s become clear that digital experience maturity varies greatly. We have seen some businesses consistently ‘wowing’ customers with each digital interaction and rapidly gaining market share. Others have been slower off the mark and needed a little extra support to get up to speed.
Digital experience maturity doesn’t just vary between businesses either. It’s also easy to see the difference between sectors, highlighting differing customer expectations. For example, many big banks are still running on legacy systems for the sake of continuity, while tech-centric start-ups offer a more dynamic experience to customers but serve a smaller market.
We don’t think it’s too bold to say that there is a universal truth, however. And that is: with so many advances in the field of digital experience over the past decade, every business should be rethinking its approach to experience delivery. And that starts with reconsidering the architecture underpinning your customer experience, your digital marketing foundation.
And so, in this article, I wanted to take you through the four key pillars that Avanade has identified as being crucial to a competitive digital experience foundation.
Pillar 1: Know your business and customers
Businesses should be cautious about simply following trends in digital experience. After all, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to either development or delivery. Instead, they should think about their specific goals and architect accordingly. Every effort must align to the overall business strategy if you are to see return on investment.
To start, write down your primary goal for the next year. Is it to move into a new, rural market? Or is it to increase customer sign-ups for a specific product or deal by 45%?
Understanding your goals will help you start architecting (or re-architecting) your digital experience foundation with greater clarity and efficiency. If your goal is to increase sign-ups, you’ll have to look for ways to improve digital form conversion and data collection. Moving to a new market, on the other hand, will require more investment in tailored communications and geography-based personalization.
In any case, customer data is at the core of digital experience. It is vital to understand the people that you serve – everything from their preferred communication channels to their experience expectations and their buying habits. It doesn’t matter if you’re a B2B or B2C company, selling sneakers or aircraft, having a clear view of your customers and your own goals will always help you deliver better experiences.
Pillar 2: Data security
Collecting, connecting and using data is a core pillar of any digital experience delivery, but customer data must be handled with utmost security and with a great respect of privacy. While businesses benefit greatly from customer data (as it empowers them to increase personalization, generate new leads and prove ROI), customers expect their data to be protected at all times.
And, in many cases, there is a regulatory imperative to ensure security, particularly in industries like financial services. The introduction of data protection regulation, like the GDPR in Europe means it’s important to follow the rules of data sovereignty – data must be managed and stored following the laws and governance of the nation it was collected in.
When architecting digital experiences, be absolutely clear on data handling. Ensure that customers understand how their data is being used and give them options to consent to, or reject, data collection. Consider how data can flow safely from the back to the front-end, what roles APIs might play in this and, crucially, who has access rights to data.
Pillar 3: Fast, engaging customer experiences
Your digital experiences should offer customers a way to move towards purchase as efficiently and meaningfully as possible. It’s safe to say that the old ‘three-click rule’ is still a factor in digital commerce. It should be quick and easy to sign-up or check-out, and it should be just as easy from a mobile or a desktop. If your goal is to increase conversions, this should be your focus pillar.
Aim to optimize the user experience across all of your channels. Consider how you are rendering your digital ‘shop-front’ and whether your current digital experience platform is enabling you to deliver these personalized experiences, or whether it is worth investing in a replacement.
Again, we turn back to customer data for answers here. Be sure to test experiences (looking for bottlenecks and areas of high bounce rate, for example) and experiment with delivery to find the optimal path forward for your digital experiences.
In addition to optimizing your customer experience, consider the efficiency of your operations behind the scenes. Look to automate as many processes as possible in your digital experience delivery as this will accelerate your time to market and save costs.
Pillar 4: Existing tools and resources
Every business faces commercial realities – often harsh ones. It’s vital that your digital experience foundation, and the resources that power it, are the right size for your goals. Businesses must evaluate their investments and identify focus areas, before cutting or investing appropriately.
Here are some areas you might need to review:
- Are you paying for servers, applications or technologies that aren’t being fully realized?
- Are your current platforms delivering real return on investment?
- Are you spending the right amount on developer time?
- What is missing from your MarTech stack?
- Do your teams have the skills to use your existing tools effectively?
Invisible CX, visible revenues
Customers don’t care how many channels you have, or how seamlessly they connect. That’s the point of a great experience – it’s invisible. Unfortunately, everyone notices a bad experience. Pain for the customer will hurt your bottom line, too. Avanade understands how to connect customer data across channels to deliver valuable and actionable insights at scale. That means you can focus on building top line revenues that are visible to everyone.
Put the pillars in place
It’s time to ask yourself if you have these strong pillars in place, and what you need to prioritize if you don’t. Be sure to connect customer data across channels to gain the valuable and actionable insight you need and start building a digital experience foundation from which you can really build customer engagement (and top line revenues).
This foundation has to be a strong one. Otherwise, your delivery could come tumbling down. Everyone notices a bad experience – and that could mean a hit to your bottom line.
I’m interested to hear if there are any pillars you think we might have missed. Are there any other digital experience foundation priorities that businesses should consider? Let us know in the comments section, or by getting in touch.