Customer Engagement

Great Digital Experiences Create Serendipity – IBM Connect 2016

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Moments of serendipity occur when you realize after the fact that you just had a good though unexpected experience. Most people associate serendipity with pure luck. When it comes to engagement, however, you don’t have to leave things entirely to chance. Digital experience is all about increasing the odds of people — your customers, clients, even your employees — having those moments of serendipity that create positive interactions with your organization and build your brand.

At IBM Connect 2016 in Orlando, Brian Chaput, Program Director of Digital Experience Software at IBM, spoke about IBM Digital Experience (DX) and the significant value companies are seeing by delivering engaging experiences. The stakes are high, Chaput says: by 2020, customer experience will be as important a brand differentiator as price and product combined1. Furthermore, Chaput noted, 89 percent of marketing leaders expect to compete primarily on the basis of customer experience beginning this year2.

Brian Chaput

Brian Chaput

Digital experiences can take on many forms: online commerce, content of all types (videos, blogs, slideshares), talent acquisition and retention programs, internal communities, customer service and much more. In every case however, the shift in focus to these experiences means targeting content and applications based on user agency, location and role, among other factors. Even customers who engage with you “anonymously” on your website have some data attached to them to which you can apply cognitive capabilities in order to improve their experience. For example, clicking behavior can reveal what types of experiences they prefer, and you can tailor your interactions with them accordingly. Cognitive can also reveal new behaviors of known users: if a loyal customer or dedicated employee starts tweeting negatively about your organization, how will you engage with them differently?

The shift also involves a change in perspective when it comes to interactions. According to Walker Info, 60 percent of companies in 2013 placed a lot of emphasis on what customers have done in the past; by 2020, 83 percent will place that emphasis on what customers intend to do3. Not only will that be an advantage for companies in terms of being quicker to adapt to changing customer preferences and sentiment, it will be what customers expect of companies. Customer – and clients, partners, employees, citizens, etc. – will want companies to anticipate their needs and address them proactively.

Perhaps somewhat paradoxically, this heightened state of expectation does not mean the end of serendipity – it means serendipity will become the norm (for companies that get digital experiences right). People will expect to be surprised. Cognitive will help orgs achieve this tough goal by analyzing the data, connecting the dots, providing the insights and making the recommendations that serve as the foundation of digital experiences that continue to engage us in such a relevant, useful and still surprising way that it almost seems like magic.


1. “Customers 2020: The Future of B-to-B Customer Experience,” Walker Info, 2013.
2. “Predicts 2015: Digital Marketers Will Monetize Disruptive Forces,” Gartner, December 2014.
3. “Customers 2020: The Future of B-to-B Customer Experience,” Walker Info, 2013.

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