By James Hobbs, Head of Engineering Great State
The performance of digital-first customer interactions is increasingly being seen by both CIOs and brand teams as key to future business growth.
Consumers are quick to pick up on errors or substandard customer experience (CX) – they expect service to be accurate, personalised, and quick every time.
There’s evidence that failure to meet expectations causes business pain – 53% of consumers feel brands fail to meet their experience standards and one in three consumers will walk away from a brand they love after just one experience.
Organisations are being prompted to rethink the topology of their IT systems as emerging data-intensive technologies generate new and immersive customer experiences. We’ve heard a lot about how the IoT combined with 5G will be driving forces in edge computing adoption, but it’s becoming clear that companies providing digital services to customers and employees will require edge computing structures to stay competitive.
So how can edge computing transform and improve a brand that places CX at the heart?
CX is heavily impacted by speed and responsiveness. Many studies, including those by Google and Deloitte, reveal a clear link between longer page load times and increased bounce rates, dissatisfaction, and conversion. Google found that as page load time goes from one second to 10 seconds, the probability of a mobile site visitor bouncing increases 123%.
Page and SEO performance are now intrinsically linked and Google’s Core Web Vitals are a ranking factor for SEO – covering load performance, interactivity performance and visual stability. There are a range of tools and built-in browser APIs that can help organisations closely monitor Core Web Vitals metrics – this also benefits PPC campaigns by helping to protect conversion rates and reducing the gap between spend and confirmed leads.
From a marketing perspective, there has been an ever-increasing drive to stuff webpages full of additional and often hidden functionality such as analytics, retargeting, tracking pixels, tag management solutions, and multi-variant testing tools – all of which take time to load. Edge computing is a cutting-edge solution that can be used to lessen the inherent tension between speed, functionality, and CX.
Instead of all computation needing to happen on the server or the client, edge computing is an intermediary option that enables rapid page load times by offloading computation to servers near users.
Content delivery networks (CDNs) now have hundreds of thousands of edge nodes and code can be run on servers geographically closest to a firm’s individual users instead of using a random data centre somewhere.
E-commerce in particular needs a greater focus on speed and greater alignment across internal teams in relation to the importance of speed. Edge-computing can mitigate or offset some poor decision making on the part of marketers but without internal alignment, it’s only a temporary fix – speed must be prioritized. It also allows e-commerce retailers to pivot away from large systems that ‘do everything’ and towards a more decoupled, composable architecture with distributed computing – saving on costs and having positive effects on margins.
For CX, the goal is to get customers invested in a brand’s digital ecosystem and with edge computing, as data processing centres get closer to the customers, this enables faster CX and means a customer is more likely to be persuaded to hang around.
Personalisation on the edge
Personalising pages and content are a must for marketing and CX, as there’s an incredible focus on performance when it comes to not only good CX, but also things like SEO. Nearly 30% of shoppers are more likely to buy from an ad if it’s personalised, so if marketers have the ability to adjust messaging on the fly and appeal directly to consumers, they will be able to maintain consistent and meaningful connections.
Edge computing allows for both personalisation and speed in CX. With more traditional technology it’s more likely to be a ‘one and only’ where one is picked over the other, as personalising things takes longer and often slows the CX down. It can be used to detect the characteristics of inbound requests, in turn rapidly identifying unique users and retrieving personalised content.
Personalisation traditionally happens on the server responsible for generating pages, but this type of technology enables personalisation to be offloaded and happen far closer to the user – bringing down those crucial response times in CX.
Building the bridge
But there now exists certain services which can bridge this gap and allow edge computation to be simpler and more manageable by non-technical team members.
For example, Uniform is a service that is capable of reading personalisation and testing rules from DXP solutions such as Sitecore and e-commerce engines like Commercetools and automatically extracting them into an edge computing-friendly format. Therefore, the business processes don’t change for marketers, ongoing involvement from developers is not required and users benefit from massively increased speed.
The ability to respond in real-time has been an increasingly critical business differentiator and edge computing allows for both speed and personalisation. With relatively low overheads in terms of complexity for business users, it is an exciting development in the CX space and teams should be investing in this tech if they haven’t already.