Invest in CX to Win During Uncertainty

How do you future proof your business? A new Adobe report suggests investing in customer experience is the key, and that using customer data to drive continual improvement is what separates the industry leaders and the followers. 

Adobe’s recently published 2021 Digital Trends Experience Index is an annual survey that charts the evolution of marketing, advertising, ecommerce, creative, and technology professionals around the world. The purpose of this year’s report is to give executives a playbook for bouncing back from the pandemic stronger in 2021. One finding especially jumps out at us:

Companies that invested in a strong CX emerged from uncertainty stronger than ever

According to Adobe, more than 70 percent of companies with top-tier customer experience (CX) functions outpaced their sectors in the second half of 2020. The CX leaders were three times more likely to have “significantly outpaced” their sectors than the rest of the survey sample. Adobe defines CX leaders as having a very advanced approach to customer experience, where strategy and technology are aligned to a successful effect. And CX leaders account for only 18 percent of all respondents. This chart from the report vividly illustrates the advantage that CX leaders had over the mainstream:

The radical shift in consumer behavior to a digital-first economy proved “not only are companies with strong CX more likely to achieve long-term growth than their competitors, but they are also better positioned to adapt to changeable customer behavior, markets, and external conditions.” Adobe added, “A sophisticated, integrated approach to CX is the unifying thread for the companies that outpace their sectors.”

We certainly agree with the report. And CX has always been at the heart of all the work we do at Isobar. Examples of companies sensing and responding through a great CX abound. They include:

  • Target and Walmart investing in curbside pick-up services years ago to be responsive to a more mobile society – investments that paid off in ways neither company could have anticipated in 2020. 
  • Lululemon moving beyond apparel and into at-home fitness through its acquisition of Mirror, creating a high-tech CX integrated with its already strong apparel products.
  • Amazon developing its own delivery fleet (from airplanes to vans) to own the entire order fulfillment experience, from order placement to delivery.
  • Disney building its own streaming service with a bundle of content tiers to make entertainment more customized to audience preferences.

At one point, these investments probably seemed like “bets” to their detractors. Not anymore. 

Our own research into CX leaders points to the importance of integrating CX and digital technology in 2021 and beyond. Our exclusive survey of global CMOs, Isobar CX Survey 2020: Creative Experience in the Age of Covid-19, revealed that:

  • Some 64% of CMOs have changed their CX strategy completely or moderately in response to the pandemic by doubling down on ideas and innovation – especially the innovative use of technology. 

Our “yes, and” to Adobe is this: a great CX is not written in stone. It’s a dynamic asset that businesses create and then revise. Target and Walmart didn’t come up with “curbside pick-up plans” in one day and then just run with them; no, this CX strategy evolved for both companies over time.

The Importance of Pivot Planning

And here’s some really good news: businesses have access to all the tools that will help them future proof themselves through CX. We advocate for a process called Pivot Planning. Pivot Planning is about developing a readiness for action for when pivotal moments occur, even when you may not know what the ultimate action may be. As our Chief Strategy Officer Jory Edmonds recently described, at Isobar we employ Pivot Planning along four dimensions:

  • Rethinking the annual plan: doing regular plan reviews of the annual plan to identify changes happening in real time, as well as creating budget reserves for the unplannable. 
  • Doing constant pulse checks: understanding the changing customer needs, tracking shifts in their values, and empathizing with their changing emotions.
  • Dedication to collaboration: embrace active and constant client interactions, including smaller 1:1 breakouts, weekly workshops, shared decision-making, real-time prioritization – all leading to faster, better outcomes. 
  • Core teams to make it real: use nimble co-creation pods to get work in-market quickly and adjust from there. We recommend selecting one-to-two initiatives to immediately put into market with a SWAT team (of client and agency teams complementing each other seamlessly).

We have helped many clients use Pivot Planning to future proof their businesses, and the concept has taken flight as a discipline. Forrester Research recently discussed the rise of Pivot Planning and used a travel company that worked with us to pivot when the pandemic rocked the travel industry in March 2020 as a core example. 

Adobe’s assessment of CX is spot-on. The key is to treat CX as a malleable asset, adapted and shaped as your business sees fit. With Pivot Planning, you can become a CX leader. Contact us to learn how we can help you embrace CX, and let’s pivot together.

More News

| 20th Oct 2020

Why Settle for Boring? Creative Experiences in the Age of Covid-19

Providing a convenient customer experience is so 2020. To succeed going forward, businesses must engineer delight through creative experiences.

| 7th Jan 2021

Brace Yourselves: 2021 Will Change Everything about Digital Creative

If 2020 was about brands trying to win a race to create the best digital experience possible, 2021 is about rethinking the digital experience completely.

| 8th Feb 2021

When Strategy Fails: We Focus on Eliminating Pain Points

Fixing broken experiences is important. But if all you ever do is try not to be bad, you will be forgotten.