Businesses rely on a diverse set of solutions that utilize technology to bring together networks of employees, partners, and customers. These systems are designed to build and deliver profitable customer experiences.
Technology has traditionally been the foundation of a company's operations and security apparatus. However, as customers, technology, and communication mediums continue to advance, the opportunities for competitive differentiators and enhanced interactions have shifted the role innovation at a company. These new capabilities have coalesced into a customer experience technology ecosystem.
Creating a customer experience technology strategy requires a keen understanding of the various components of the environment and interactions therein. Here we briefly explore the business units involved in the ecosystem and look at the steps business leaders take to create a plan and design an ecosystem.
CX Business Areas
The customer experience is a broad and evolving concept that can have a dramatic effect on the success of a business. Many units of a company are involved in the planning and execution of customer experiences. Below are some of the areas that affect customer interactions and their business goals:
|Marketing||Leverage the company’s core differentiators and value proposition to attract as many leads as possible.|
|Sales||Capitalize on marketing efforts to interact with leads and close as many deals as possible.|
|Data Management||Capture and use external and proprietary data.|
|Technology||Create better and faster delivery.|
|Account Management & Customer Service||Develop customer relationships to retain and grow a large number of customers or accounts.|
These business areas overlap to form a CX ecosystem. By plugging into the ecosystem, businesses can get access to entire networks. With that access, they can find new customers, tap into new sources of data, and improve established business processes.
In this environment, an exclusive focus on “protecting the center” can limit a company’s ability to evolve with customer demands and capitalize on emerging technology. As a result, business leaders seek to change the complex business and technology architecture to function as an ecosystem. To do so, they must simultaneously place customers at the center of the technology strategy while also managing security issues and getting a handle on the accelerating stream of technological innovations.
Getting Started with CX Technology Strategy
When businesses have a robust customer experience technology strategy, the business units can seamlessly transfer information and customer data. Customers are satisfied when interactions are streamlined and consistent. To get started with a plan, business leaders engage in the following 6 steps:
1. Define the customer journey.
The onset of the Internet has changed the behaviors and expectations of many of today’s customers. The average customer is now better informed and connected continuously. Those same customers want personal, real-time support.
For most businesses, reaching these customers is a challenge. Before putting together a technology mix, business leaders must be able to answer the following questions:
- Who are my customers?
- How do they prefer to communicate with their peers?
- In what ways do they engage with brands?
- What methods of communication would ease their interaction with businesses?
2. Rethink the business strategy.
Corporate strategy, the market environment, and risk appetite affect the way, or combination of ways, a company chooses to interact with the various components of an ecosystem. These factors require business leaders to work collectively to identify emerging technologies to serve a role in the ecosystem.
Leaders should seek solutions to disrupt the marketplace, determine where future sources of value are, and develop necessary strategic actions to capture it. The dialogue among team members must serve as a multi-directional and constant exploration in which technology and business strategy are inextricably linked.
3. Develop the infrastructure.
The integration of technology within an ecosystem is dynamic. It happens in real-time with infinite partners and end customers. Companies must redesign the next-generation integration architecture to support the system and enforce open standards that can be readily adopted by all partners.
A company's existing and future tools will need to be extended to include third-party solutions that fully integrate with the other components of the ecosystem. There must be transparent processes and data governance in place to ensure standardization and consistency across the systems and customer journey.
4. Reinvent the customer experience process.
Customers have not only changed how their research and purchasing preferences. Their expectations on support and business relationships have also shifted. From chat to visual engagement to ticket submission tools - technology has enabled customers to get live, real-time support without leaving their device. However, businesses must fundamentally rethink their support processes to integrate these tools into an ecosystem.
It is critical to map the customer support journey with clearly defined steps, SLAs, issue resolution, and support protocols that all business agents are aware of and to which they can adhere. Creating a knowledge base and integrating it into the ecosystem streamlines the process.
5. Develop security, legal, and partnership parameters.
A customer experience technology ecosystem will likely include new, third-party partners and vendors and expanded internal technology. A new set of security standards should be defined and approved. These standards must articulate how the ecosystem will be integrated and what kind of data can be exchanged with whom.
Working with new partners and technology also raises legal concerns. From compliance to liability to privacy, and more - if there are not defined parameters, these issues have the potential to impede the potential benefits garnered by the broader ecosystem.
It takes significant negotiating skills and commitment to define and adhere to a new set of standards. However, it is necessary to protect customers and the business.
6. Invest in trends.
Businesses increasingly engage digitally with customers. Keeping a pulse on leading trends or new ways to ease customer interaction sets an organization up for success. Leading companies evolve their communication methods and adopt a fluency in many best-of-breed technologies to keep up with customer expectations.
This leading approach to customer experience technology trends allows a customer experience ecosystem to do more than merely change with their customers. It will enable brands to set a new standard for their industry and develop loyalty among buyers.
Designing a customer experience technology strategy and ecosystem creates opportunities to capture new sources of value and drive customer satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy. To do so, business leaders must expand their approach to CX solutions and think about the full ecosystem and customer journey.