I’ve been reading a lot of different software vendors who profess to have the answer to customer experience in the form of their platforms. But what I’ve noticed is that each vendor has a distinct perspective on what is or should be at the core of any customer experience initiative. Of course, from their perspective it all starts with technology. But even if I grant them that, which I don’t, customer experience starts with people, then process and only then should it be about technology, they don’t agree on much more.
If you talk to Salesforce.com, CRM should be at the center of their CX universe. For IBM and Oracle it all starts with data. SDL says content is king. SAP is touting commerce since it bought Hybris, and Adobe always reminds us they’re the most creative suite. For once, I have to agree with everyone. The trick is not what the CX ecosystem contains, its what the focus should be. And that has nothing to do with technology. It has all to do with a company’s business model, market and business challenges.
At its core, customer experience technology should enable customers to accomplish what they want to do when engaging with the brand and equally CX should empower companies to be able to achieve the business objectives they need to be successful. We call it The Fair Exchange, which is The art and science of balancing the needs and desires of the always connected, fully empowered customer with the business requirements and commercial outcomes which define success for the enterprise in the 21st century.
To deliver a fair exchange, there are three core technologies that come into play; content management systems (CMS), customer relationship management systems (CRM) and commerce solutions. If you don’t have all three, you won’t be able to achieve both the customers’ and the companies’ goals. But that doesn’t mean that all three have equal importance to each company.
When it comes down to it, some companies have a publishing problem. They need to be able to get their content out to the right people at the right time, on the right device, using the right platform…. Their customers may want information, education, entertainment or support. For those type companies, the CMS should be at the center of the stack. For example, in financial services its critically important that the most accurate and most appropriate content is served up whether via a Tweet, post, web content or an app. Whereas for manufacturing knowing the complete relationship history of its customers is key and so CRM is the most important. And of course for any online retailer, commerce is what its all about, getting the sale in the moment and not letting the shopping cart become abandoned. In which case it goes without saying that a strong commerce tool is critical.
So as a first step in contemplating what your next customer experience technology investment will bring the most return on investment, take some time to figure out what your business problem is and which technology is most critical to your future success.