In a world where customers can now order a pizza by sending a single emoji, brands struggle to know where and when they should be starting conversations with customers. Acquia and our partners work together to offer fully integrated digital experiences that resonate with the customers of today and tomorrow. As an Acquia Preferred Partner for over 10 years, Bounteous empowers customers to create big-picture digital solutions that transform brand experiences. We recently sat down with Bounteous’s Chris Greatens, director of Drupal engineering, and Scott Weston, lead Drupal architect, to discuss how they offer forward-thinking solutions that help brands grow and evolve digital experiences. For them, the work is in transforming the mindset of brands to approach every interaction as a holistic journey rather than just using digital tools to drive brand awareness or generate transactions. Scott noted that experiences are fundamental to business success, citing a recent Forrester report that found that for 80% of today’s marketing leaders, improving their customers’ experiences takes top priority, even above growing revenue. Naturally, once you’ve mastered experience, the revenue will follow by bolstering customer loyalty and extending the long-term business value.
Established Credibility Through Certification
In the competitive battleground of CX, providing deep expertise and knowledge across all facets of digital experience allows brands to stand out and win customers. Chris and Scott are among Bounteous’s 13 Acquia Certified Drupal Grand Masters, the most of any company outside of Acquia. With deep Drupal experience and in-depth mastery of Acquia’s certification programs, Bounteous works to educate both their internal talent and their customers on how to build better, smarter solutions and deliver that value to the market.
Acquia’s Grand Master Certification Program assures Bounteous' clients that they have both the strategy and skills needed to execute digital transformation projects at scale. “Offering that credential to prospective clients is a selling point. You can tell a customer you’re qualified, but being able to show them a specific certification and demonstrate use cases of the kind of projects they want gives that proof,” said Chris. Speaking from an internal business development perspective, Scott appreciated the certification program as a benchmark for Bounteous to elevate and support their own talent. Having candidates and team members participate in the program and explain their best practices allows business leaders to identify gaps and expand upon their own knowledge. “It’s not just a test with a few answers, [Acquia’s certification] really asks you to demonstrate specific experience in Drupal and other technologies. It gives us confidence in what we do and a way to know we have the right people on the job.”
The Pathway to Digital Maturity
Still, no one becomes an expert overnight. Organizations all begin with different levels of digital maturity. Orchestrating powerful, personalized digital experiences requires long-term commitment and a clearly defined strategy. Personalization isn't a project; it's a long-lasting journey. Brands need to regularly conduct tests, shift paths and explore new answers, again and again, to keep up with customers. “Improving customer experience starts with the right mindset,” said Scott. “If you want to move beyond just websites and get to something like AI-driven personalization, you first need to understand your own audience and what’s working with them. You need to develop personas and perform A/B testing to get that baseline and move toward new levels of maturity.”
A major obstacle brands face on the path to digital maturity is making sure all of their customer experiences are seamless and consistent across their ecosystem. “Every interaction with a brand needs to be consistent in style and messaging. Having strong technology partners helps make all of those interactions smoother,” said Scott. The team sees a huge amount of potential in customer data platforms (CDPs), which give brands the ability to connect all customer data in a single, progressive path that unites the full scope of the customer experience. “We drive growth for our customers by understanding the smooth flow of data insights across the digital brand experiences that we create.” Whether a customer is gathering information from their CRM or their marketing automation tools or inside a mobile app, brands need their technology to work together and help them develop that complete picture of who their buyer is and what they want.
Analytics Can’t Be An Afterthought
For a critical initiative like personalization, meaningful experiences are never as easy as just “checking off a box.” You need to treat your data as a living, changing force that you can iterate around and adjust your objectives in real time as you learn more about the customer. It’s a step-by-step process informed by a well-supported hypothesis. The Bounteous team focuses on engaging their clients at a strategic level by digging into the motivations behind their priorities and learning how brands are determining and quantifying their own success. According to Scott, this means always asking “Why?”
“When someone comes to us and says ‘We want to get more traffic on our website,’ we want to uncover the strategy behind that KPI. We’ll ask ‘Why do you want more hits? What do you want people to do once they’re on your website?’ and their answers inform our next steps.” Having those analytics conversations at the very beginning of a project allows both sides to know exactly what their efforts are driving toward. “Whereas in the past, analytics was something people bolted on at the end of the project, we’re continuing to see a shift to people developing their strategies with analytics and behavior-tracking in mind. It’s not just the last sprint. We’re building, measuring and evaluating as we go,” said Scott.
Open Architecture Supports Strategic Solutions
Rather than forcing a square into a round hole, Bounteous’ flexible, best-of-breed approach puts the customer in control of how they want to accomplish their goals. Proprietary software limits innovation by restricting the solutions available to customers, meaning that customers often have to start at the end and force their answer to match the available tools rather than selecting the technology that works for them. This can be frustrating for many established enterprises that likely already have purchased certain tools and are looking to get the most value of their current resources, not completely scrap their tech stack and switch to a set of predetermined solutions.
Incorporating data and setting valuable, measurable goals and objectives with their customers before they embark on a technology project means that Bounteous can put a plan in place that’s aligned precisely to the customer’s vision. “It’s about asking them what they want to accomplish and finding the solution, not forcing a solution to fit the problem,” Chris explained. Both Chris and Scott feel that Acquia and Drupal’s open framework and flexible architecture are perfect for powering this customer-driven approach because they can easily integrate with other tools (even those that don’t exist yet!). Acquia’s open platform grants Bounteous the freedom to choose solutions for customers and prepare for future growth and transformation for years to come. “With the open source community, I’m able to mix-and-match and do things the way we — and the client — want to do them,” said Chris.
Leveraging open digital experience technology grants Bounteous the freedom to give customers what they want now and in the future. The world of technology is always looking ahead, and as the digital landscape grows in both depth and breadth, they expect the Drupal community to have an even stronger focus on tightly integrating systems and incorporating a variety of interfaces and delivery methods. With Drupal 9 on the horizon, Scott predicts, “Drupal will be viewed not as just a CMS, but as a connected system of interoperable frameworks. It goes beyond just hosting and standalone siloed applications. With decoupled Drupal and the ability to create content across very different applications, we’ll be able to better drive experiences that will engage customers in ways we haven’t even seen yet.”