Improving Customer Experience sits at or near the top of most CEO agendas. This is exciting news for CX professionals as we certainly can no longer complain about obscurity or lack of investment the way we use to do. That’s the good news...
The more challenging news is that its time for us to deliver and doing so effectively and profitably is hard! Most CX professionals as well as a growing mass of sufficiently informed executives have now accepted that customers interact with their brands in a never ending continuum that involves constant shifting in and out of channels, frequent interactions with social media and an overall level of customer empowerment and freedom of action that was simply unimaginable just a few short years ago.
The challenges that this creates for the CTO are huge, complicated, and urgent while the solutions are not easy to chart and often fraught with business risk. Embracing CX is, as the old saying goes, “like being pregnant” and we all know that when it come to that state of being it can’t be done half way. In order to bring a modicum of clarity to this complicated series of challenges, I have sought to specify the bare minimum set of high-level requirements, the absence of which would make achieving one’s CX goals virtually impossible.
The "CX Care” vs. “Marketing CX” Debate:
To add to the complexity, a vigorous debate, created by no small amount of siloed thinking, still persists regarding the various “flavors” of CX and with them the requirements against which one must both plan and deploy. There remain distinct camps divided between organizational, strategy and marketing leaders who still tend to look at CX through their own specific lenses and in so doing interpret their requirements and associated solutions in a partial light. This tendency is both flawed and dangerous. That said, whether one is seeking to solve for customer service issues, operational challenges or marketing opportunities, the following short list of “must haves” and “nice to haves” should serve you well as you chart your course to true CX excellence.
CX Technology Must Haves:
- Real time ingestion & integration of many disparate data sets
- Single, quantifiable, customer segment specific views of customer paths across all channels
- Predictive & rules-based analytics in support of continuous personalization & optimization
- Downstream deployment of optimized content & journeys across each channel - typically this will require both a "CRM" system as well as Content Management Capabilities.
CX Technology Nice to Haves:
- Integration with a Customer Journey Mapping application that can ingest both attitudinal and behavioral (think LARGE) data sets
- Integration between CX Customer Data & Agile Product Development
CX Technology Integration Imperative:
When it comes to delivering CX value, latency is public enemy No.1. In our increasingly real time world, seconds actually do count and consumer expectations, justified or not, are ones based on their desire for relevancy and with that - speed. In short, we live in a world where everyone has become a teenager and simply “wants it now.”
Like so many areas of CX this concept is easy to understand - since we are all also consumers ourselves - yet very hard to achieve and potentially quite expensive. The biggest obstacle to speed is latency and hence the need to eliminate (or at least significantly diminish) it. Therein lies a massive challenge as well as a mission critical choice for the CTO and team: either integrate multiple systems or toss out one’s legacy systems and select and deploy an entirely new platform. There are of course many hybrid or mixed solutions that one can consider yet at the end of the day this “integrate or replace” fork in the road is perhaps the biggest technology decision one needs to make in the quest for CX excellence.
How to make the right choice? There is no easy cookie cutter answer. Five critical variables need to be assessed, including:
- Status and architecture of existing systems and their ability to at least solve for the need to deliver real time ingestion & integration of many disparate data sets.
- The cost of any required integrations vs. the cost of retiring legacy systems and replacing them with new platforms. This analysis must include not only licensing and setup costs but also ongoing maintenance and support costs.
- The opportunity costs created by deploying new systems should they truly enable a better economic outcome - this will require careful economic modeling and not a “It’s just faster and better” cursory evaluation.
- Time to market: which approach will enable the company to achieve its goals more quickly and what are the precise economic values associated with the two timing options?
- Organizational skill set and knowledge combined with the ability to retain expertise while adopting new systems. Does your staff have the skills to shift to utilizing a new platform? How trainable are they? is their a comprehensive, codified process already in place that will retain valuable knowledge and expertise?
Coming Soon: Emerging CX technology innovators that should be on your CX roadmap shortlist.