The restaurant world has a concept called “front of the house” and “back of the house” to divide the work of running a restaurant. The front of the house is what customers see when they enter the restaurant. The host or hostess greets them, and brings them to a table. A member of the wait staff takes care of their food and drink needs and in general, tries to make the meal an enjoyable one. 

Equally important is the back of the house. This is where the food is prepared, the dishes are washed and the operations of the restaurant occur. Every successful restaurant owner will say that managing these two operations are completely different, but of critical value to the overall customer experience.

'Below the Visibility Line'

Similarly, when creating digital customer experiences, the experience is created in the back of the house. Marketing is being pulled deeper into the operations of the back of the house operations to create more powerful and resonant content experiences. Whether it’s content marketing, branded content, personalized e-commerce shopping experiences, or just a more connected set of owned media content platforms, the vast majority of both B2B and B2C marketers are finding themselves smack in the middle of digital asset and content management.

Forrester's CMO Victor Milligan summed it up well in a recent article when he wrote that the CMO’s most important agenda moving forward was a strategy that developed:

“Consistent, high-quality, and personalized experiences across both human and digital touchpoints. The need to differentiate on the basis of experience is really what drives the deep-rooted operational changes below the visibility line.”

This is critical. “Below the visibility line” is something that is becoming a true imperative for any business that wants to optimize a customer experience. If any business hopes to maintain, improve and ultimately scale their digital customer experiences, they must understand how to make those “deep-rooted operational changes.”

Stepping Into the Experience: Appliances

Smart media management — both content and digital assets — can help a business move much more quickly in this direction. A recent study by research analyst firm IDC found that 97 percent of those who have deployed a DAM system have reduced their asset creation costs and increased their productivity.

So yes, installing a great wood-fired brick oven, an amazing stove and a state-of-the-art dishwashing system can set the stage for a great set of customer experiences — but it’s how we make those machines work together in a fluid process that makes for a differentiated kitchen. This is what frees the staff to work together as a team to create the most relevant experience for the customer.

Integrating web content management, digital asset management, CRM and even marketing automation solutions is still one of the biggest challenges marketing and technology teams have today. Most enterprises have a siloed approach to each of these appliances, leading to wasted time, duplicated work and an inability to both create and measure their optimized customer experiences. That same IDC research found that one-third of a business’ content assets go unused, despite the money the enterprises spend to get them produced. Sirius Decisions corroborates this finding, reporting that 60 to 70 percent of digital content created by marketing goes unused.

Integrating the Front and the Back of the House

Just as a great kitchen alone doesn’t make a great restaurant, technology by itself doesn’t enable a company to create resonant digital experiences. What it takes is integration of these systems and re-orienting the processes around a more agile and collaborative atmosphere. As Digital Clarity Group senior contributing analyst Robert Rose wrote in a post a few months ago:

“High-performing brands are reorienting their digital media creation and management. They’re finding they must step away from 'more and faster.' These marketers understand the difference between quick and fast and have developed a better process for creating a rich digital content experience.”

The key to this is making it possible for marketers to connect the front of house experiences across the multiple channels. For example, by understanding how blog content is being consumed, the e-commerce catalog can then be optimized, and the right community content can be displayed.

Making sure that the web content management, DAM, CRM and Marketing Automation Solutions are connected, integrated and using data appropriately doesn’t feel very sexy — but it can be what powers the front of the house into a fine dining experience.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic LicenseTitle image by  snowpea&bokchoi