All too often companies jump into the vendor selection and procurement process before they’ve identified the business and customer experience challenges the technology is intended to solve.
Is your organization ready to use the technology and get the intended value out of it? How will the new system fit into the overall stack? And of course, who is going to support and manage the technology?
Technology Is a Means to an End
I worked with a Fortune 500 client a few years ago who was upgrading their company’s CMS platform because the existing system was no longer going to be supported — a common enough scenario. They were already in the request for proposal (RFP) process and picking among the usual suspects of top enterprise CMS vendors.
The IT organization was driving the entire effort and hadn't involved either marketing or any line of business. The stated goal was simply to migrate from an old platform to a new one that IT could more easily support.
Many might say, what’s wrong with that? IT is responsible to support and manage these systems and they are in the best position to select the next solution.
While there are good arguments for this approach from an operational point of view, it neglects the more important issue: what is the technology being used for in terms of delivering great customer experiences? The technology doesn’t exist for its own sake, it is a tool for the business and as such, you need to access what the outcome is that the tool will enable the business to achieve.
2 Questions to Answer Before Your RFP
1. What Do Customers Want?
Everyone talks about collecting business requirements, translating them into functional requirements, which in turn inform technical requirements — but too often they leave customer requirements out of the equation.
CX technology serves to enhance customer experiences. Those experiences in turn produce the business outcomes needed for the company to be successful. So, it's natural and logical that the first set of requirements gathered should be the customer’s.
Most companies already collect a lot of data about their customers, but far too many don’t think about that data in terms of understanding what the customer wants to do when they engage with the company. For example, why do people come to your website?
Most people do not come to be marketed to. In some cases they're there for entertainment — think media websites or companies that employ gamification scenarios to support the business. For example, Heineken teamed up with the Champions league to produce the Star player experience for soccer fans, and it sold more beer in the process.
Others come to get help or service with something they’re already purchased. Almost every good product company has some form of online self-service, FAQs and often online chat. Fitbit help is a great example of intuitive and useful online help. And of course, some people are looking for purchase suggestions. Amazon has mastered the, “people like you also like this” approach.
Each of these examples have very specific use cases that drive what the business and functional requirements of the underlying marketing technology will be. But more importantly, they share a common drive to meet a customer need first. The advantage to the business comes second.
If you take the time to really understand your customers and their wants, you will have completed the first stage to making a successful DX technology purchase.
2. What Does Success Look Like?
The other important stage that precedes the RFP and procurement process is defining how you will demonstrate success. Finance and procurement expect you to make a strong business case for the investment, especially if it reaches the level of capital budgets, which many marketing technology purchases do.
In the Heineken Star Player example, the ultimate goal was to sell more beer. But the causal link between the ads and the purchase behavior was difficult to measure and even harder to attribute to a specific ad or campaign. In Amazon’s case, it should be a lot easier, because they are collecting all the data about who is seeing recommendations and who is then buying the products.
Not only should correlation be possible, but over time, it should be a factor contributing to the calculation of a customer lifetime value score.
ROI in Fitbit's case wouldn't be based on whether the web content generated incremental sales: Most people only buy one device at a time. In this case, the company would measure ROI in terms of cost savings, productivity and efficiency of operation. Every self-service online customer service interaction should replace a call center one, which costs significantly more and requires more people. The online self-service should also do a better job of answering questions, given the quality of today’s AI solutions.
Before you buy, figure out the upside of the investment: is it increased revenue, decreased costs or both? Determine which specific metrics will provide the data to measure the ROI and think about how you are going to collect, store and analyze the data.
A Firm Foundation for DX Success
Once you have completed determining the desired business outcomes and figuring out how to measure your success, you will be ready to send out your RFP, negotiate pricing and be on your way to a successful DX deployment.