The impact of digital transformation cuts across both back- and front-office functions and activities. Digital experience, therefore, plays an important role for every company undertaking this kind of transformation. For this reason, brands are learning to pay greater attention to how customers interact with the range of digital touchpoints that comprise the overall brand experience.

Learn about the role that data plays in:

  • Understanding the customer’s digital experience
  • How to evaluate the impact of digital experience on your customers


Creating Digital Experience with Data

Michael Krigsman: I'm Michael Krigsman, industry analyst and host of CXOTalk, and we are live at Future Stack '16, which is New Relic's conference here in San Francisco. And I'm very fortunate to be talking with an old buddy at Future Stack, who is the boss of strategic marketing here at New Relic.

Abner Germanow:: Right.

Michael Krigsman: So, how are you doing?

Abner Germanow: Fantastic! So, what does that mean? And I'll tell you what it means. It means that I, and a few people I'm lucky enough to work with, spend our time talking to customers about what they're trying to do more broadly with the products that New Relic offers; and we do that because we're trying to figure out how our products can help them succeed in the business that they have. And so, that's the nutshell [of] what we do.

Michael Krigsman: Ok. So, digital transformation is a part of it. It's become such a jargon-y...and it's very hard to pin down.

Abner Germanow: That's a kind term for it. I have other ways that I would describe it. You know, digital transformation started out as this thing where I had an IT department that was focused on the back-office email, and sort of the cost center of running the company. And then I had all these new startups in Silicon Valley, and Austin, and Boston and all these places, where they went digital first, and they started connecting with customers in very new ways that the Fortune 500 and others couldn't match. And so they said, "Ok, we're going to digitally transform the way that we do IT in order to serve our customers in new ways." And so, that was kind of Phase One. What we see now is when if you go back to that customer, if you have empathy for that customer, what you find is that the way that they interact with your digital properties not only changes your relationship with them, but it also changes the relationship that they have with everyone else in your company that they interact with.

And so, the easy example of that is, if you think about any of the companies like Dunkin Donuts or others that have order-ahead-and-pay on their mobile apps, where you order your donut and coffee, and then you show up at the store, and the person behind the counter gives you your order; that person behind the counter that may have just started a couple of days before, that digital experience impacts them pretty significantly. They have to know lots about what's happening and the opportunity for that person; and that digital experience to be fundamentally different, other than just handing you coffee to be able to say, "Hey! Here's the fifth donut you've had this week!", or, you know, maybe you don't want to be replying to that, but ... The ability to make that experience a very rich one, as opposed to something that's fairly flat is where people are going. And so, we look at this digital customer experience as being a new way for everyone in the company to interact with their customers.

Michael Krigsman: You mentioned "empathy."

Abner Germanow: Yeah.

Michael Krigsman: This is such an interesting term, and how do you translate empathy into technology, or maybe it's the other way around: you translate the data into empathy.

Abner Germanow: So, that's a great question. So, if you think about I have a ... Belinda Runkle this morning used the example of a hospital patient, and her thing was, when you actually lie in a hospital bed, you look up at the ceiling, that's not such a great experience in a lot of cases. So you have empathy for that, you start doing different details, like you start painting the ceiling and that kind of thing. And so, what we see people doing is having empathy for their customers in the context of the roles that they conduct. So, for example, a customer service rep, who's interacting with someone who's had a digital experience, needs to understand what the digital experience that the customer had ... In order to serve them better, the marketing people need to understand what's happening, what are the digital experiences? The developers need to understand: Are they using the features that I have or not? And so, the way that you have empathy with certainty, is to apply data to it; because otherwise, you're just speculating.

And, one of the things that we see people doing, is moving their software teams from being kind of opinion based, to being empirically-driven, because these things are now knowable; this data is now knowable, and you can understand everything that happens from that point where your customer touches the mobile app, sets up a chain reaction, through all of your systems. And then if you understand everything that's going on across that chain, then you finally understand your customer experience.

Michael Krigsman: So empathy with certainty...

Abner Germanow: Yes.

Michael Krigsman: ... is in understanding the customer based on data...

Abner Germanow: Yes.

Michael Krigsman: ... and then having some means to take action.

Abner Germanow: Yeah, and everybody in the team has to have the view that if the data makes sense, it has to be a common dataset; ideally, it's a common platform, it's easy for them to access, and when that happens, you don't have the "hippo problem" where the highest-paid person's opinion, you have people looking at data and going, "Wow! We're not serving our customers well in this fashion." And as soon as you do that, then the whole team collaborates, and off you go.

Michael Krigsman: You have been speaking with many customers, and this is really hard, undertaking this type of change for a lot of organizations, for most organizations, is very difficult.

Abner Germanow: Yes.

Michael Krigsman: What are some of the lessons, or the common success factors that you've observed as you talk across multiple customers?

Abner Germanow: Sure. So, the big one is having an eye on the prize: having that eye on what is that digital customer experience look like? What do we want customers to actually do? And, when you start there; when you start with that business goal; when you start with that customer empathy, and work back from there, then what happens is you do things like, you say, "Hey! Are we open for business right now? Do we have visibility into any of that?" And the very basic thing is, "Are we available?" You go one further, and you start asking, "What does that customer experience actually look like? What are customers doing? How are they behaving?" And then finally, making sure that when you make a change, especially if it's in some sort of dynamic environment, that you understand that that change has a positive or negative impact on your customer experience, and you need to be able to do that in real-time. And so, that ability to understand the customer, and the downstream impacts of what that digital experience means for everyone who has customer interactions, is really key.

Michael Krigsman: So the bottom line, being able to connect what's happening with the customer, through the data, to the actions that we can take.

Abner Germanow: To the entire chain right to everyone who's got that customer-facing need.

Michael Krigsman: Fantastic!

Abner Germanow: Cool!

Michael Krigsman: Abner Germanow, …

Abner Germanow: Great to see you!

Michael Krigsman: … Senior Director of Strategic Marketing at New Relic! Thanks alot!

Abner Germanow: Thanks.

Michael Krigsman: Okay!