In the words of Scott Liewehr, President and Principal Analyst of the Digital Clarity Group, it's not about the right technology, it's about the right systems integrator. And when it comes to customer experience management, the right choice makes all the difference.
Between the Technology and the People
Take a minute, close your eyes and think about the last product you implemented. How did it go? Now ask yourself, why did it go that way? The truth is, it was probably less about the technology you chose and more about the people who helped you implement right?
This is what Liewehr said to me, "You can have a "mediocre" technology with a stellar implementation team and have a "stellar" outcome. But...it's impossible to have a "stellar" technology and a mediocre implementation team and have that same stellar outcome."
He's not saying technology isn't important. I don't think anyone would say that. But the options out there are numerous, especially in the world of web content management. There really is no "one right technology" for you. But pick a team to help you implement it who doesn't have the skill or the knowledge to do it, and you really are in for a struggle (and trust me, I've been there, it ain't fun).
No doubt, software is increasingly necessary for successful customer experience management, and selecting the wrong products can have a crippling effect. But, as we argue in the introduction to this report, more software only means that more emphasis must be placed on finding the right partners to implement and integrate the technologies and to assist with research, analytics, business strategy, and other services for a complete solution."
This is genesis for DCG's newest report "Guide to Service Providers for Web Content and Customer Experience Management". It's a straight look at 42 North American service providers that you might want to use to help you implement your next web content management system. It's not a ranking (like Forrester's Waves or Gartner's Magic Quadrants), Liewehr was quick to point out that the intent is not to say who's the best, because that's relative to the individual organization. Instead there's a framework you can apply to find best fits for your needs.
I want to spend some time telling you about the framework, how the service providers where chosen and take a look at a couple who made the report, but that's a discussion for another article.
The Customer Experience Management Imperative
I think it's important recognize some of the key insights this report also brings to the idea of customer experience management (CEM). Tim Walters, Partner/Principal Analyst for DCG spends some time working through this idea of CEM and why it's so important to organizations today.
Customer experience management (CEM) designates an evolving set of practices, technologies, partnerships, and business valuesthat, taken together, enable organizations to orchestrate, offer, and optimizeconsistently superior customer experiences. Mastering CEM is an imperativebecause the quality of the experiences you offer and support will increasinglydetermine the fate of your company."
Walters is clear, CEM is about the customer, it is not about technology. But technology does play a role and Walters says that web content management occupies a central and fundamental position among the many technologies that support CEM.
There is much hype around this idea of CEM (including a play on acronyms, but that's a story for another day), Walters writes in the report. It comes partly from the way customer experience is touted by numerous vendors today to sell their products and solutions. But it's not hype.
We talk daily about how the internet has changed the way consumers buy. Mobile devices, social networks, and even cloud services have changed how consumers find the information they need to make decisions. Any organization that does not recognize this "digital disruption" is headed for trouble, fast.
Another point Walter's makes is that customer experience really isn't new. It's been a part of organizations' strategies for years. It was just implemented and managed differently. So some people, Walter's says, might question if we couldn't get it right then, why's it so important now?
And again, you only have to look to the digital disruption taking place today to find your answer.
The social web forced businesses to end the drip-feed monologue and begin a conversation with consumers – and then handed control of the conversation to the crowd."
While the social web may have freed us, Walter's says that the rapid adoption of "smart mobile devices" has provided the "explosive force beyond the CEM imperative." This ubiquitous connectivity means consumers "consume" content anytime, anywhere. And it means, according to Walters, that we need a new definition of "consumer".
Rather than remain as actual or potential buyers of goods and services, consumers become insatiable, voracious, and uninhibited consumers of digital experiences. The purity of their appetite means that exposure to a marginally more engaging or desirable
experience quickly morphs into an expectation – and then the demand – for similar or superior experiences."
His final point: you can't ignore customer experience, you can't wait for a better economy or a bigger budget. Consumers expect it, demand it and will go where it is the best for them.
The CEM Software Connection
CEM isn't about software, but software does help create and manage the customer experience. And I go back to the first part of this article and the purpose of the report, you need to implement the software right, not implement the right software.
This report from DCG provides an avenue to help you understand how you decide what your needs are for a service provider and who some of them are in the North American market. We'll spend some time diving into that framework in an upcoming article.