As enterprises search for more robust and targeted solutions from Web CMS providers to manage customer experiences, it is important to consider the customer's perspective.

In the latest Forrester Wave Report for Web Content Management, analyst Stephen Powers writes about the Content Management vendors that have begun to lead the way in the customer experience (CXM) space, and identifies 3 core areas of evolution:

  1. “Process-based solutions that enable business users to create experiences.” This is at the core of the new breed of CXM enabled CMS, the key point being that business users (as opposed to IT users) should now be able to create content for customer experiences.
  2. “Delivery solutions that bring interactive experiences to customers.” Most of today’s sophisticated Web CMS solutions now have the ability to deliver content in personalized or  contextualized ways.
  3. “Customer intelligence solutions that enable businesses to gauge the success of experiences.” This is the area where many CMS vendors are moving quickly -- and where most of the leaders have differentiated themselves. Those that don’t have built-in testing, targeting and analytics solutions are integrating with third-party measurement solutions.

While CMS vendors are certainly ringing the changes when it comes to web publication and delivery solutions, it’s important not to overlook a fourth category of solution which has been evolving just as fast -- the Web Governance Solution (for a good overview see Robert Jacoby’s recent post). As Web CMS platforms evolve to support increasingly sophisticated, personalized, contextualized and multi-channel customer experiences, the challenge of protecting the quality of that experience becomes magnified.

Quality CXM: Building Trust at Each Interaction

Last month I wrote an article on a related topic entitled “Web Customer Experience Management: More Is Not Enough.” In that article, I referenced a post by Seth Godin in which he said:

Every interaction comes with a cost. Not in cash money, but in something worth even more: the attention of the person you’re interacting with. Waste it with a worthless offer, a lack of preparation, and yes, with nervous dissembling, then you are unlikely to get another chance.”

This point is critical to CXM success. While Web CMSs will continue to develop in terms of the range and sophistication of the user interactions they can support, the quality of those interactions will remain key. We can’t understand the consistency and quality of the web conversations we’re trying to have and the quality of our content from an “inside-looking-out” perspective. If we limit our process to create, edit, publish, deliver and measure the efficacy of our web content without monitoring quality, we will never really totally understand the customer’s experience. And if we don’t truly understand the customer’s experience how can we ever hope to successfully manage it? So enabling the view of web content from the outside-in, as the customer sees it, is therefore a fundamental piece of what will bring success to a CXM strategy.

The Challenges Ahead

Content consistency, accuracy and the quality of the experience all play a vital role in creating an optimized web experience for customers. And as more and more organizations expand their web content footprint across a growing range of digital platforms and channels, these challenges only become more pronounced.

In a recent interview, Vinay Iyer, Vice President of CRM Global Marketing at SAP, commented that SAP views customer experience along four pillars that are built around the concept of trust. These four pillars are:

  1. Convenience – making your information available in as many areas as possible.
  2. Responsiveness – listening to customers and reacting as close to instantaneously as possible.
  3. Relevance -- presenting customers with the most relevant information.
  4. Reliability -- meeting the promises you make to your customers and measuring how reliably you do that.

I agree with those pillars wholeheartedly. From a web content perspective, the first three can for the most part be met with today’s sophisticated Web CMS solutions. But the fourth, “reliability,” requires a web governance solution to measure and manage the quality of the experiences being created.

Taking the same journey as the customer, by monitoring what that experience looks like from the outside-in, is the only sure way we are going to be able to accurately measure whether that reliability and quality is being delivered.

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