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Managing and optimising a digital customer experience

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Companies and organisations today drive digital transformation through creating innovative systems of engagement (SoE), based upon rethinking how to engage with their target audience(s), writes Kristian Thyregod, senior vice-president: EMEA at Riverbed Technology.
Most of the innovative SoE’s are purpose-built to meet key customer demands and are aligned to specific behavioural contexts over a defined engagement timeline: customers discover, explore, buy, use, ask and engage in the digital realm. And it’s well worth it for companies and organisations to know exactly what’s going on, and how, at each turn.
Today, most new business initiatives require digital engagement thinking and transformation. It’s almost a given that these initiatives demand innovative applications, fast networks, as well as agile enterprise architectures, which ultimately form Systems of Engagement – and all of this in a true 24/7 availability setting.
Line of business and IT executives tend to approach the critical SoE decision-making question: “how do we get there from here?” through a prioritised strategy: SaaS first: “we need to move quickly”. If that doesn’t work then PaaS: “we will design and develop ourselves”. If PaaS is not an option, then IaaS: “we will establish the app/Dev Ops environment to get the job done”. And, lastly, if IaaS is not available to us then we will in source and build from the ground up.

It’s all about first impressions – and lasting ones, too
Here’s the thing; your customers don’t care about SoE’s, SaaS, PaaS and IaaS. However, they do care about getting the information, the product, the service they need – right now. Rest assured, your customers will judge you on the digital customer experience.
Hence, creating innovative SoE’s is not a technology decision – it’s a business decision. And it’s a critical one given the desired outcomes: increase in satisfied customers, increase in expansion and net/new business, continuous innovation, and reducing operating expenses, among others.
Most of these outcomes, if not all of them, depend on the digital customer experience and how well you proactively and pre-emptively manage it.
And, have no doubt; your customers will expect you to manage it. So, while your CMO may talk about managing switching cost considerations among disgruntled digital customers, the real equation is simple, and in today’s connected and hybrid world, it executes very quickly – if the customer experience is less than expected and the options in the market place are greater than one, then you are at risk of losing a customer. Your customer will win, and maybe one of your competitors will, too.

So, how are things going?
If the risk of losing customers is real, then exactly what do you know about the customer experience your SoEs deliver? And, equally important, if the customer experience isn’t up to par, then when do you know about it?
Can you confidently answer the questions below? Or, at the very least, do you know what you don’t know?
* How critical is the customer experience to you, and who is responsible for it?
* What is your customer experience management capability and maturity level, what do you need it to be, and when do you need it to get there?
* How do you prioritise and size customer experience management investments, and who drives linking customer experience management to value?
* What role do your technology partners currently play in terms of helping you deliver an impeccable customer experience, what role do you need them to play, and starting when?
Forrester Research found that less than a third of organizations have a coherent digital strategy. Nothing to be alarmed about, but it does suggest that there is still work to be done.

Managing the delivery of your SoE customer experience isn’t trivial
For starters, it’s all about visibility; you can’t manage what you can’t see. There is a substantial amount of critical customer experience telemetry in-play, when a customer is using your apps or websites.
The more diverse tools and products you use to capture this telemetry across servers, networks (yours and the service provider’s), storage, infrastructure, web services, databases and ultimately the applications themselves, the more likely it is that you cannot separate the critical data points from the not so critical ones.
When that happens (and it does) then you cannot respond in a timely fashion. And customers today are not too patient.
Rationalising the monitoring tools, you currently use for network, infrastructure and applications, not only creates clarity and agility; it also helps you reduce operating expenses and release resources to drive innovation. In any event, whatever tools and products you use, these should be fully integrated with one another, providing one version of the truth in one, role-based and unified view.
Managing digital customer experience requires immediate and actionable insights and a clear delineation of responsibility.
Optimising the digital customer experience delivery is a likely option once you know where your customers are, how they are getting to you and how they are interacting with you. Some SoE’s may even need preferential delivery capability and capacity. If that’s the case, do you have that available in your arsenal today?

One way of getting there
I started this article by using the term “rethinking”. Managing the digital customer experience silo by silo is not rethinking, and it will not get the job done in today’s hybrid environment. If you have outsourced your network, your infrastructure, your application management then how do you know, and when do you know you have reached your goal?
Maybe you need to rethink how you manage the customer experience altogether? As the saying goes: “If you want to make an omelette, you have to break some eggs.” You should make that decision, and not leave that to your customers and competitors because you didn’t manage the SoE customer experience well.
More often than not, an outside-in view, a factual conversation and an unbiased assessment of your particular situation can help contextualize the challenge. We can offer you that conversation, no strings attached. We call it the Performance Management Workshop.
Why now? Successful digital transformation is typically dependent on compelling customer engagements in the digital realm, together with a continuously improving customer experience, from enhanced functionality over innovative features, to flawless delivery.
Why not give it a shot; you have nothing to lose, but potentially quite a lot of visibility to gain?
That’s your decision, too.