three hot air balloons
PHOTO: Aaron Burden

The customer experience market does not want for lack of technology solutions. Yet too often, businesses turn first to technology when trying to improve their customer experience, hoping it provides some kind of panacea to all their troubles. 

In this three-part series, we've looked at the three broad areas where a company must focus to realign itself as a customer-centric organization: culture, operations and technology. This final post looks at some of the challenges in customer experience (CX) where technology changes can help. 

Related Article: The 3 Pieces of Customer Experience Transformation: Cultural Change

It’s All About the Data

Managing the data is the largest technical challenge, according to Todd Wright, SAS head of customer experience and data privacy solution. “Many organizations today lack the proper systems and software to integrate and manage their data. They also lack the ability to provide a common view of the customer. With these limitations it’s impossible to know the full story of the customer — all the products they own, who within the organization is a user and where they engage with us — and provide effective customer experience engagement.”

What needs to occur first is proper data management that provides a clean, integrated and consistent view of data, according to Wright. After the building block of data management is in place, companies need a system that focuses on the hybrid environments organizations operate in today.

So companies need data management systems that combine web, email, direct and call center marketing into one environment, Wright said. “By having the various ways customers engage with an organization centralized and viewable, the organization can better know their customers and even use analytics to make predictions on next best offers, when an issue might occur and/or when a customer may take their business elsewhere.”

“In order to align your company around customer experience you need to be able to turn customer experience data and insights into actionable steps and outcomes,” agreed Amanda Schmidt, UJET vice president of customer success. “This starts with the right tools. Adopting data intelligence and machine learning and leveraging real-time support center data into the customer experience makes it easier to identify customer journeys, create more thorough customer profiles, gather feedback, and identify best practices and channels for communication.”

Related Article: The 3 Pieces of Customer Experience Transformation: Operational Change

The Changing User Experience

User experience, taxonomy and search are the top technical changes a company will see when realigning itself to be more CX-focused, said Kristen Clough, vice president, strategy and analytics for teamDigital. “Organize your offering based on the way customers think and react, not based on product lines or the way SKUs are itemized. Consider the different shopping mindset and where they might be in the funnel — is it the first time they’re researching your product? Or did they go right to it?”

If your product is complex find ways to step customers through the information vs serving up an overwhelming amount all at once, Clough explained. There is such thing as too many options. Speed and findability sometimes outweighs selection. If a customer knows what he wants, you better make sure they can get to it quickly, whether information or a specific item.  Think in terms of “solutions” and “how can I make a consumer’s life easy” (e.g., bundling complementary product that will enable a solution, providing recommendations based upon shopping occasions, etc.)  rather than “here’s what we’ve got to sell you.”

To make the customer experience as frictionless and speedy as possible, Clough recommended:

  • A landing page strategy that differentiates the way a customer enters the experience based on how they were acquired feels more personalized to their needs. 
  • Understanding how, when, in what context, and through what device(s) consumers may be accessing your brand — online, offline, and combined. Being consumer-centric means understanding how consumers use experiences, intellect, and tools to solve their problems, and then determining how best to insert your brand into that intersection.

Related Article: The 6 Pieces of the Customer Experience Puzzle

Ensure Omnichannel Alignment

“Most of customer interactions and the subsequent experience is either directly or indirectly supported by technology,” said Kurt Schroeder, Avtex chief experience officer. “However, most of the 'channels' that customers use to interact with an organization are managed by separate functions — social media is run by marketing; chat along with voice is run by the telephony group or contact center; a portal is run by IT along with email.”

As a result, CX is disjointed, inconsistent and certainly not cross channel or omnichannel, according to Schroeder. “A new technology road map must be considered that aligns to the customer journey and has two distinct capabilities. One, there should be a centralized customer experience orchestration hub. That is, a technology ... that tracks the who, what, when, how, where and why of customer interactions.”

Such a hub would include the channel, why the customer was interacting with the organization, what was the conclusion and via workflow what need to happen next.  This capability “orchestrates” the experience both reactively and proactively, Schroeder explained. Additionally, organizations need an orchestration engine that is rendering the interaction regardless of the channel using the content and sequencing that the orchestration hub has provided.