For Webtrends, client experiences are critical to the organization's success. And that means it's about more than selling good technology. 

John Harrison recently joined Webtrends as its new VP of Client Experience. With over 18 years experience in the business (with a strong focus on customer relationship management), including a stint as President of Client Experience at YesMail, Harrison is tasked with the responsibility of ensuring clients are happy customers. This is the "soup to nuts experience" that includes not only account management, but all various service level opportunities (implementation, ongoing managed services, training). His team is 100+ people with a primary focus on the North American market.

According to Harrison, great client experiences are not only about making sure Webtrends' customer interactions and experiences are "fantastic," they are also about partnering with clients to help them improve marketing programs, as well as support their strategic objectives and initiatives.

In the broader digital marketing space, there are a number of products out there that can help move organizations forward. But as more channels come along and the competition changes, things have become more complex. What that means is that although the technology is important, it's the ability of a vendor to provide solutions that include much more than a good piece of technology. 

On Webtrends' Past and Its Present

There are likely a number of people out there that remember Webtrends as a web analytics vendor. Get your logs, drop them in to Webtrends and run your reports. But Webtrends has grown to be much more than that (as have many other similar traditional web analytics vendors).

Webtrends has evolved from a transactional/product based organization to a solutions organization. That transformation has happened because of the needs of the market and its clients. 

Webtrends' solution set includes traditional web analytics, customer intelligence across mobile, social and web, and testing/optimization technology. Harrison believes that one of the more interesting new solutions is Webtrends streams -- real-time analysis.

Streams is about the ability to interact with customers and see their experiences, as opposed to viewing aggregate reports after the fact. This enables an organization to optimize their interactions which should make the experience more meaningful.

Webtrends has security, scale and reliability. That puts it squarely into the enterprise market. But Harrison believes it's the breadth of data collection and processing within the solution that puts it at the head of the market.

On Webtrends & Customer Communities

Recently recognized with a NorthFace Scoreboard Award from Omega Management Group Corp. for excellence in customer service and support (Webtrends has received it for the last 3 years), the award, which is based on customer ratings, is a reflection of Webtrends' commitment to its customers.

Webtrends has a pretty regimented process for working with clients Harrison told me. The initial discovery process is critical to understand the problems organizations are really trying to solve. This helps them know how the technology must be implemented to meet those needs. 

In terms of supporting customers, Webtrends has an extensive blog and network of communities of people interacting with it. Robust support forums -- both product and solution centric -- are also part of the Webtrends support environment. 

An important aspect of Webtrends client experience strategy is the concept of account teams. Account teams cross departmental boundaries to support the end-to-end needs of clients. Webtrends uses Salesforce as its primary tool for everything from lead management to technical support.

A key value proposition is its service support and training. Harrison says you have to earn the trust and respect and partnership from organizations. This, he says, is the foundation you need to start from.

On Big Data Challenges

Big data is one of those words that means a lot of things to a lot of different people. Harrison says that the key is to define what it means to an organization in the context of its business and what it is trying to achieve. How does it leverage information to drive business results? It's not about the size of the data, but simply what is it trying to achieve?

It's a scary term, Harrison points out. It sounds complex and vendors like Webtrends are trying to bring solutions to the market that let you see it, understand it and integrate it into other business systems to help automate it or make decisions using it.

Webtrends has the ability to provide a depth of tracking of information across channels. It gives you that unique view of your customer. You can then leverage that data to drive personalization and targeting to improve the customer experience.

On Customer Journey Mapping

According to Harrison, the concept is good. The easier part is modeling the prospective new customer journey. The hard part is looking at the existing customer base and how their journeys are evolving over time. Customer journey mapping can help you garner a lot of interesting insights to help you classify your clients, but the reality is it's difficult to place customers into a single segment/designation -- you can look at your customer in different ways. 

That being said, Harrison points out that if you have multiple classifications, you can prioritize resources and effort, and investments. Journey maps can drive a lot of powerful actions.

This brings up an interesting point that I think many organizations struggle with. Organizations are obsessed with getting new customers. I can't deny that it's a statistic we look for in our analytics report -- how many are new. It sounds like journey mapping is much easier to do when you know a person is more or less starting from scratch. But keeping current customers happy, engaged and coming back for more is much harder to do. The journey maps you would create here are harder to figure out and the variables to consider much greater.

The Webtrends Road Ahead

There is still some perception that Webtrends is simply about web analytics. For Harrison, it's an opportunity to re-introduce the value that Webtrends can provide to the market today. 

Innovations brought to market -- especially like Webtrends Streams -- are game changers Harrison says. He's right, and Webtrends is not the only analytics vendor who deals with real-time data for organizations. To get ahead of the competition, organizations have to know what's happening when it's happening, not days after.

Webtrends tagline is "re-imaging digital marketing." Harrison believes that Webtrends solutions and technology is helping organizations do just that. He sees marketers at the beginning of a significant change for how organizations can interact not only with their data, but more importantly, with their customers.

I think my biggest takeaway from my talk with Harrison is that vendors can't sell products. Business is too complicated, and the Internet and social media is pushing companies in directions they never thought they would have to go. They need vendors to understand how things work, and can help them figure that out, as well as support them on their journey. That is the differentiator for many vendors today. And to be honest, I think we have a long way to go before many vendors understand that.