In today's language the word "mediocrity" has become a concept with a strong negative meaning. However, originally in Greek thought, the idea of "mediocritas" was an attribute of beauty, which was determined by symmetry, proportion and harmony. Hence the term "aurea mediocritas" or "golden mean", as an attempt to reach a middle ground between two extremes that were considered to be vices. Both Horace for his literary works and Aristotle for his philosophical writings are credited with the expression "virtue is in the middle ground".

So, despite the perversions of today's language, "mediocrity" as it was understood in ancient times is the biggest lesson to be learned by companies today, in terms of the Customer Experience that comes from digital interactions with customers. It will not be the first time, nor the last, that we bring to the table the close relationship between Customer Experience and Digital Transformation, a process that we must understand as a "cultural change" and not as a massive and uncritical adoption of technological innovation.

This is what we can conclude if we look at three recent studies on this digital relationship between customers and companies, which also address the three usual phases of this relationship: on the one hand, the ability to react to customer demands; on the other, the availability of elements to generate a good experience; and on the other, the promotional impetus of companies using the most "mainstream" tools available to them. In all three cases, a little bit of "mediocritas" is needed. That is to say, of moderation, of middle ground, of virtuous balance.

The first study, by Eptica Digital Trust, looks at companies' social media activity in terms of their ability to successfully respond to customer enquiries. At a time when we are all accustomed to the use of terms such as chat, email, private message or Social CRM, it is surprising that almost half (41%) of companies are judged to have failed to respond. However, this figure varies greatly depending on the contact methods chosen by customers, which demonstrates the need for a "digital transformation" (cultural change) that is more deficient than one might think at first glance.

Thus, the more "traditional" channels of contact, such as web enquiries, are successfully answered in 83% of cases, but the figure is reversed (38%) if we look at enquiries sent in the form of tweets. For the social network par excellence, Facebook, there is a 50% tie in the use of private messages, while email messages that can be described as successful do not reach 7 out of 10 (68%). And watch out because this is a score that is decreasing year on year, despite still accounting for more than 25% of the usual customer enquiries.

Is the data relevant or irrelevant? If the impact on turnover were minimal or non-existent, there is no doubt that these issues would be of little importance. But we seem to be at the other extreme: according to the same study, almost 9 out of 10 consumers (89%) say they will stop buying, or reduce their spending, on brands they don't trust because of their Customer Experience. Between almost everyone's rush to be on social media "at all costs", and the ratings they get for their customer experience on this channel, there is plenty of room to find a virtuous middle ground.

Fashion (responding to 60 per cent of all enquiries) and food and drink (59 per cent) were the top sectors surveyed, but still failed to respond to four out of 10 of all routine enquiries.

If we turn to the main findings of the "Adobe Experience Index Report", we find very precise data on Customer Experience, largely in relation to the usability of websites. Based on surveys of more than 3,000 consumers across Europe, the technology firm exposes the relatively high numbers of consumers who are inclined to abandon their online "shopping cart" if their experience is negative: 4 out of 10 in Germany (41%) and the UK (43%), and half of the total (50%) in the case of France. In fact, in France and the UK, one in three consumers say they would never shop with a company again after a bad experience.

An experience where, in addition to direct financial damage, there is also reputational damage, as more than a third of respondents (36%) say they pass on bad experiences in their purchasing processes to friends and family. Is this to do with expectations? It's possible, given that more than two-thirds (68%) expect personalised experiences, ranging from augmented reality museums to loyalty programmes through product trials, or voice command assistance services. Again, between the overpopulation of business websites and the high demand of users visiting them, there seems to be an opportunity for a virtuous middle ground.

Finally, there is the most obvious case of the necessary balance between two extremes: the use of e-mail as a marketing tool. Both those who see it as a cure-all and those who abandon all hope of making a favourable impact on customers are mistaken. According to a study of 1,000 shoppers by marketing technology BounceX, customers do want email communications, but they also demand that they be relevant and timely.

Thus, almost two-fifths (37 per cent) of respondents say they would be more likely to make a purchase if they received a personalised notification about a product they have already viewed online. Not only that, but more than a quarter (28 percent) find advertising and/or promotional overlays useful on one condition: that they are personal and enhance their user experience. This opens up very interesting insights in the eternal debate about the use of personal data, privacy and ad hoc regulations. Customers are clear: yes, but not at any price.

This is relevant insofar as the number of emails received every day worldwide is estimated at 269 billion (269 followed by nine zeros), a figure that is expected to rise to 320 billion by 2021. Or in other words: almost 10 trillion (one one and thirteen zeros) every month; more than 100 trillion (one and fourteen zeros) every year.

And they are particularly relevant because, at the same time, 7 in 10 consumers feel they receive too many marketing emails from brands, and a third (34%) regret giving their email address to a brand. In fact, more than half (57%) of shoppers say that receiving marketing messages too frequently would cause them to unsubscribe from a database. Even more interesting (business, business, business) is that a third (32%) would be more likely to make a purchase if they were not "bombarded" with marketing messages. Again, between one extreme and the other there are more than enough options to be virtuous.

So, contradictory as it may seem, in Customer Experience combined with Digital Transformation, the best recipe to escape from "mediocrity" is to bet on "mediocritas": beauty, harmony, balance, the golden mean.

Photo by Razvan Chisu on Unsplash