Customer interactions happen every day and are increasingly happening specifically online. Creating integrated, seamless, and omnichannel digital experiences for customers will help make brands memorable, and their products and services stand out. While it can be challenging to dive deep into a digital customer experience strategy, it is critical to hear what they want and ensure brand loyalty and satisfaction growth. In this interview, Raj De Datta, CEO of Bloomreach, helps us understand some of the common mistakes brands make and leverage digital experiences for brand success.
Raj De Datta is the Co-Founder and CEO of Bloomreach, the leading digital experience platform for e-commerce that powers brands representing 25% of retail e-commerce in the US and the UK. A multiple-time entrepreneur, before launching Bloomreach, he was entrepreneur-in-residence at Mohr-Davidow Ventures, served as Cisco’s director of product marketing, and was on the founding team of telecom company FirstMark Communications. He also worked in technology investment banking at Lazard Freres. Raj serves on the Council for Player Development for the US Tennis Association as a Founder Partner at seed-stage venture capital firm Founder Collective and an individual investor in over 20 Silicon Valley start-ups. He holds a BS in Electrical Engineering with a certificate in Public Policy and International affairs from Princeton University and an MBA with distinction from Harvard Business School.
Here Are Some Key Takeaways From Our Discussion:
TechFunnel: Digital experiences are an overwhelming part of everyday life. How can organizations leverage this for better success?
Raj De Datta: Digital permeates every area of our lives. The physical experience is no longer separate from the digital. This presents an incredible opportunity for organizations to drive better success by breaking online and offline boundaries. In doing so, you can create a more robust customer experience. The introduction of ‘buy online, pick up in store’ is a great example of this. You’re combining the convenience of an online shopping experience with the immediate gratification of being able to pick up that item the same day.
TF: Do you believe that there are any thumb rules one can follow to create a great online experience?
RDD: The most important rule of thumb for any online experience is putting the seeker at the center. And ‘seeker’ isn’t just another word for ‘customer’ — a seeker is someone looking to achieve a higher-order outcome; they have a purpose they intend to fulfill or a task they want to complete. They break down their intentions into a series of digital tasks and then become a potential customer for multiple products and services. For example, a seeker is looking to buy an outfit for an upcoming interview. They then become a customer for a new dress, new shoes and so on.
When a business focuses on the seeker rather than the customer, they are changing the fundamental questions of business. Instead of “What do you want?” they ask, “Why are you here?” And that change in mindset allows them to build a better, more engaging, and relevant experience for the consumer. You can see this with a company like Uber, which knows its seeker isn’t just looking for a car but for a way to get from point A to point B. And so Uber created an experience in which they find your driver, pick you up where you are, take you where you need to go, include your billing, and so on. That’s a really robust experience built for the seeker, and we can see the success Uber has had because of that seeker-centricity.
TF: From your observation, what are some common mistakes brands are making, and what can they do to change them?
RDD: Many brands do not leverage technology, or the right technology, to create more personalized experiences for their consumers. At Bloomreach, we know better than most the crucial role that data and AI play in ensuring you’re offering the right product to the right customer at the right time, which ultimately builds customer loyalty. If you’re constantly promoting a consumer to buy a product that is no longer in stock, or that he’s already bought, he won’t feel that you’re listening to him. But if you know he’s been looking for black sneakers, and you send him an email letting him know that the pair he’s been eyeing are back in stock in his size, you’re creating a really powerful customer experience that drives better business results.
TF: Has the pandemic changed how consumers react and respond to digital interaction?
RDD: The pandemic brought about a great deal of change within digital and e-commerce. It forced certain segments of the population that previously preferred the in-store experience, such as older consumers, to lean on digital out of necessity. And categories that were previously slow to see digital adoption, such as groceries, suddenly became highly relevant to consumers.
While these changes in consumer habits were born out of necessity, they showed many the joy and convenience of these digital experiences. I don’t anticipate these habits will change back even as we emerge from the pandemic.
With that in mind, it will be more critical than ever for businesses to focus on a digital-first strategy even as in-person shopping returns. Consumers now expect digital to be a part of any shopping experience, and brands must adapt accordingly.
TF: With so many changes and trends in the digital world, how does a leader formulate a winning team?
RDD: Formulating a winning digital team begins with recognizing that digital experiences impact every business area. You cannot look at digital purely through the lens of e-commerce.
World-class digital teams have a direct team representing the P&L of the “digital-only” business, such as e-commerce, but they also include digital ambassadors who reside across marketing, sales, merchandising techniques, and a wide range of other functions. Oftentimes a business will hire a Chief Digital Officer and give them the resources to bring on a digital team – maybe one empowered to own the P&L for e-commerce. But if digital is to be the foundation on which your company is built (and it should be), then your Chief Digital Officer should have team members within every major function of the company and influence all of the surrounding operational processes.