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Offline customer experience will matter as much as online in 2019: WARC Marketer's Toolkit 2019

The survey says 52% of brands and 61% of agencies regard customer experience as the most important element of digital transformation. Both admit its consistency is variable, if it exists at all

A WARC report has suggested that for businesses undergoing digital transformation, achieving a consistent customer experience (CX) across all channels is a major challenge — and one that is hampered by a tendency to focus efforts online at the expense of offline.

CX: Online to offline, part of WARC's Marketer's Toolkit 2019, has argued that the focus on digital transformation has created an unbalanced view of the broader customer experience picture.

Alex Brownsell, Senior Editor, Media, at WARC, said, "It's 20 years since the notion of 'the experience economy' was first floated, so customer experience is not new, but what is new is how expectations have been flipped, with brands now seeking to ensure that offline experiences match those built up in digital ecosystems."

In WARC's Marketer's Toolkit survey, 52% of brands and 61% of agencies regard customer experience as the most important element of digital transformation and both admit that the consistency of that is variable, if it exists at all.

Brownsell added, "All too often, experience is viewed through the lens of technology, including advancements of CRM systems and greater personalisation of digital marketing, rather than the real-world interactions that can have a decisive impact on how a consumer views a brand."

Research by Kantar TNS has found that offline channels are most influential to advocacy. However, as more transactions take place online, offline infrastructure has been cut accordingly — often to detriment of overall customer experience.

"Our expectations of physical spaces have dramatically changed in the last 12 months," said Abbie Walsh, Managing Director, UK and Ireland, Fjord, who recommends that brands use their understanding of customers' online behaviours to reshape offline experience. "In doing so, they will be able to create a live customer experience which transcends the digital world."

The key findings around customer experience from WARC's Marketer's Toolkit 2019 survey:

  • Brands are trying to ensure digital CX advancements are matched in the physical world. This often means the digitisation of offline environments with gadgets. However, brands looking to improve CX should start with the desired experience, and not necessarily the favoured technology.
  • Consumers in differing locations and environments may have unique demands of an offline brand experience. CX should be designed to match customer expectation, and those expectations can vary from one real world location to the next.
  • The quality of customer service will have a huge bearing on the quality of offline CX. Brands investing in employee training, and proving staff with the required tools to deliver a superior experience are most likely to succeed.
  • CX management is not always about fixing problems. While it is important to rectify potentially damaging experience pain points, such a reactive approach is unlikely to move an organisation ahead of the competition.

CX: Online to Offline is one of the spin-off reports from Marketer's Toolkit 2019 following WARC's annual survey with more than 800 client marketers and agency executives around the world, and is backed by CMO interviews, WARC's case studies and best practice guidance.

A free PDF sample of the report is available here:

The full report is available to WARC subscribers, and includes survey analysis, expert opinion, recommendations and pitfalls.

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