What COVID-19 Taught Us About the Importance of Cloud-Based Experiences
As the world continues to adjust to post COVID-19 life, many organisations are still reeling from the economic devastation of lockdown. While some industries and brands have been hit hard or forced into administration, others have thrived or been able to pivot and transform their business models overnight to keep trading. But regardless of how different industries were affected, consumer behaviour across the world was strikingly similar.
In a recent report, McKinsey identified 5 key ways in which consumer behaviour changed across the globe, during the first few months of the pandemic (McKinsey, 2020). Among these changes were two that had – and will continue to have – significant implications for expectations of digital experiences:
- Flight to digital and omnichannel
- Shock to loyalty
Flight to Digital and Omnichannel
As soon as in-person transactions were put on hold, online transactions took over – and then some. By mid-March, an estimated 1.37 billion students, globally, were estimated to have switched to remote learning (UNESCO, 2020) and 16 million US knowledge workers started working from home (Slack, 2020).
Overnight, every business had to become an online business – or face financial consequences. Universities had to transform on-campus degrees into online courses, employers had to provide adequate equipment and environments for entire teams to work remotely and service providers had to pivot and find creative ways to deliver information and services online.
Organizations whose digital experiences didn’t meet the new expectations were quickly shamed, with major outages hitting the headlines. For governments, it meant already-panicked citizens were left without essential COVID-19 guidance or information on how to claim financial support (Which-50, 2020).
Shock to Loyalty
A poor customer experience has obvious implications for customer retention and brand loyalty – but during the pandemic, these consequences were more swift and severe for businesses than ever before. The same fear that led some customers to panic-buy loo roll also put greater importance on the ability to have our needs met online.
Suddenly, the ability to continue to buy, transact, stay informed or complete day-to-day tasks online became a source of security for many. As Associate Professor Nitika Garg from the University of New South Wales explained: "People want to be prepared because it's the one thing they can do to get some sense of control." (BBC News, 2020). This also meant that when organizations failed to meet expectations, at any touchpoint, customers were quick to try elsewhere – with an estimated 60% admitting to switching brands (McKinsey).
Putting Cloud Back on the Agenda
The advantages of the cloud haven’t changed; for any solution, cloud-hosting (also known as elastic computing), the key benefits remain:
- The ability to scale
- High speed and performance
- Greater security
- Minimal to zero downtime
Before the pandemic, many organizations had lagged behind on their digital transformation projects, with strategies such as cloud migration always on the agenda, but never actually in progress. When customers all over the world were simultaneously forced to transact entirely online, the importance of cloud-based experiences became painfully clear. Some experts pointed out that cloud computing could have prevented many critical performance issues, particularly for key government services that were inundated during the pandemic (The Conversation, 2020).
5 Benefits of Cloud-based Experiences
For organizations that have dragged their heels on switching to the cloud, the business case is becoming more and more self-evident. Here are just a few of the key reasons to start delivering cloud-based customer experiences:
During the pandemic, organizations that were able to instantly scale-up bandwidth to meet increased demand were notable by their absence from the headlines. But scalability allows far more than higher traffic; it also enables complex, high-density data and systems – such as digital experience platforms (DXPs) to run smoothly, across all your digital channels. It also provides an unbeatable cost efficiency, with the ability to ‘dial-down’ bandwidth needs when necessary.
2. The ultimate experience
With speed playing an increasingly important factor in what customers consider to be a ‘good’ experience, connectivity and uptime are critical. Squiz Experience Cloud which enables your organisation and customers to stay connected 24/7, on a silky smooth gigabit-level network enabling you to deliver the highest speeds and performance.
In uncertain times, the ability to provide a secure, trustworthy experience to customers (especially when handling payment and other sensitive data) is now considered a bare minimum requirement. Cloud solutions tend to offer the highest security measures available; look for compliance with key payment and security standards such as PCI DSS v3 and ISO 27001:2013.
4. Centralised hub
Managing your digital experience tech stack can become painful, especially with more and more martech tools becoming available every year. Cloud offers teams a single control centre, enabling marketers to switch quickly between DX solutions to perform multiple tasks from one centralised, easy-to-use, open cloud-based platform.
5. Automatic upgrades
Another key benefit of cloud-hosted DXPs is that many providers will usually offer automatic upgrades. In the case of DXPs, this means you’ll always be able to take advantage of the latest innovative tools and features to ensure you’re delivering the best possible customer experience.
The Future is Cloud-based
As more countries begin to ease lockdown restrictions and in-person transactions and services are slowly re-introduced, it’s clear that fast, secure and seamless experiences are very much the new standard, as far as customer expectations are concerned. Many, rightly, see the cross-industry seismic shift to online as permanent, with students, employees and consumers starting to choose online above on-campus, office-based and store-based experiences.
Introducing Squiz Experience Cloud
The Squiz Experience Cloud is a new platform that delivers an outstanding customer experience for accessing and using all Squiz products as an integrated digital experience platform, making the creation of digital experiences easier, faster and more enjoyable for our users. Whether your organisation serves students, citizens or customers, Squiz Experience Cloud enables you to deliver the fastest, smoothest and most secure digital experiences. To learn more, visit: squiz.net/squiz-experience-cloud
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