Impressions of digital natives—those who have made the most significant impacts on customer experience—are of fast-paced, throw-caution-to-the-wind Millennials who, through sheer audacity, blow away incumbents buried in their old ways.
The reality, however, whether a digital native or a legacy enterprise pushing towards their own digital leadership, is one of process know-how and well-oiled execution.
We’ve identified five areas of process excellence that are at the core of digital transformation and delivering outstanding customer experience.
1. Abandoning perfection in favor of accomplishment
2. Embracing analytics to transition from “what” to “why” and “what next”
3. Adopting context as the key element of playbook development and execution
4. Rooting customer experience in multiple customer journeys
5. Developing technology at the “core” and “edge”
Accomplishment, not perfection
In the past several years, experiences—particularly those enhanced by smart mobile devices—have thoroughly changed people’s expectations for what not only what is great, but what is routine. We as consumers (and as business entities interacting with other businesses) live in a new normal of fast access to information, capabilities at our fingertips, and the ability to engage in ways that align to our channel and service preferences.
Part of the new normal is the speed with which customer experiences are changing. Businesses and the technologists that contribute to their success must find the right balance between speed to market and deploy every last feature to perfection. To be clear, this is not a trade-off of quality versus speed, but instead, a recognition that pace of change is inherently faster than traditional waterfall development cycles. When we add the additional benefit of real market testing of highly creative ideas (and the willingness to fail fast) we now find ourselves in a continuous beta test.
What, why, and what next
Improving customer experience is rooted in a deep understanding of customer experience. Many businesses are still perfecting the “what” (as in what happened with respect to sales, distribution, conversion, retention metrics). In fact, knowing your “measurables” is critical for any well-functioning organization.
A higher functioning level is the why behind the what. Data visualization allows businesses to uncover the nuances of data at a more detailed level than spreadsheets can provide and allows the inherent pattern recognition areas of the brain to see both consistencies and discrepancies in data that reveal the more subtle drivers of reported KPIs. Understanding the why of customer behavior is the baseline for exploring alternatives to the customer experience.
However, it is not until we push into “what next” can we effectively impact and improve customer experience. By enabling analysts and other decision makers to hypothesize and visually model outcomes—on a segment by segment basis—we can best focus our efforts and design and implement tests that ultimately become the foundations for continuously improving customer experience.
Context as basis for action
With respect to digital-centric customer experience management, context is the single most important determinant of real-time engagement. The idea of a playbook (the set of customer experience actions aligned to major points in the customer journey) is not new.
What is new is the speed and complexity with which customer journey points materialize. That combination of past purchase, geo-location, stated preference, loyalty status, social engagement, inventory availability, weather (and on and on) defines an infinite set of combinations that a basic playbook cannot reasonably address.
Instead, customer engagement must embrace the complexity of context by developing playbooks that are rooted in a core view of segments and points along the customer journey with the ability to adapt in real time to fast-moving digital triggers. Essentially, this is a balance between contained sets of data at rest that can be segmented, modeled, and projected with fast moving data in motion that provides immediate and dramatic indications of intention, risk, and action.
Multiple segments; multiple journeys
Customer experience, like customers themselves, must be seen as differentiated and relevant. Note: not unique, there is something very strong to be said for having a particular point of view of customer experience that aligns to and strengthens a brand. However, in order to maximize customer loyalty through customer experience efforts, businesses must develop rich profiles of the segments that contribute most to their profitability and recognize the journeys embedded within those segments likely differ as well.
This takes the discussion of relevance to a much deeper level than just “right offer to the right person at the right time.” Relevance in a digitally-driven customer experience world requires rethinking and enabling impactful engagement all along the paths to purchase, to relationship expansion, and lifetime value.
Core and edge technologies
Empowering the enterprise to deliver the most impactful customer experiences requires a dual-track perspective on technical, and likely organizational, development.
Core technologies and processes will remain central to nearly all established incumbents. The ability to maintain financial and operational control, distribute goods, execute transactions, and manage people remain critical components of well-functioning enterprises. Connectivity among those systems—whether on-premise or migrated to the cloud—provides an even higher level of functionality and performance.
At the edge, technologies and engagement that are customer or field facing represent a different and equally important development challenge. API-driven connectivity and the management of APIs provides the key to customer experience in real time. But it is the combination of and connectivity between core and edge that defines the strongest enterprises.
As the topic of customer experience evolves on the heels of digital innovation, we will increase our focus on empowering great companies and organizations with a unique combination of business strategies, technical tools, and analytic capabilities. Keep your eyes out for our next series on digital transformation this fall.
To catch up on all 10 posts in the Customer Experience Marketing Top Ten series by David Rosen, click here. Check out how other companies and leaders began their journeys and got on the road to digital business at TIBCO NOW by watching the enthralling keynote presentations here.