I’ve recently had several conversations with companies that are looking to improve how they standardize online experiences around the globe. It’s something I’ve been helping firms with for some time. It’s always been a complex issue, but now it’s getting even more challenging because we’re moving to a new era of online experience.

As outlined in the Forrester report, “The Future Of Online Customer Experience,” consumers will increasingly demand experiences that are customized for their context, aggregated from multiple sources, relevant at the point of consumption, and social by rule, not exception. As touchpoints proliferate across a range of devices, it will become increasingly difficult to manage the online experience in a single country, let alone in dozens of them. Add to that the increasing need for more specialized (and, by extension, localized) experiences, and it’s easy to see how a cookie-cutter online experience will be difficult to duplicate from one country to the next with maximum relevance.

In the past, I’ve written a number of documents about global Web standards and how local site owners need a stronger voice. Now more than ever, there needs to be a collaborative effort to engage with the teams in charge of online experience in their own countries and develop a set of standards, guidelines, frameworks, and best practices that they can use to their advantage. As the network of touchpoints expands globally, firms that have very rigid standards will risk alienating users, while those companies that have looser guidelines may well find themselves thrown back to the free-for-all days of yesteryear when global Web managers weren’t even aware of all of the sites their company had in play. Instead, firms need to find a middle ground by operationalizing their global standards. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Begin a collaborative process to engage local online channel owners today.

  • Identify and tap into the expertise of local owners. This will get them to buy into the process and encourage them to actively contribute and help shape the outcome of the standards effort.

  • Remember that the most effective standards help empower local teams to build the best experience for their customers while leveraging the experience, expertise, and equity of the global brand.