This article originally published on Customer Think.
The term digital transformation means different things to different audiences, but a common understanding of the popular phrase may be: to leverage digital technologies in a way that allows a business or organization to fundamentally transform how it creates, markets, delivers and nurtures its customer base. Effective implementations of digital transformation strategies can create profound, and potentially highly disruptive, opportunities and as such, represent something of a holy grail for businesses to target. This leads to a natural question: how do companies achieve this transformation?
How Customer Experience Management is Driving Digital Transformation
From the perspective of technology, customer experience management, or CXM, represents the true heart of any digital transformation effort. The term CXM has evolved over the years as our understanding of the breadth and depth of what digital transformation truly means – an opportunity for organizations to deliver highly persuasive experiences that motivate customer behavior and drive business results.
CXM relies upon several components to achieve this success, however; customer relationship management (CRM) is one of the most powerful of these components, as it helps define the business value of customer accounts, identifies them as discreet segments for targeting and informs many aspects of popular customer journeys. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is another influential component to help drive CXM. ERP tools allow us to manage all aspects of product manufacturing, inventorying, delivery and supporting transactions. Even businesses that focus on service offerings instead of product development benefit from ERP platforms, as it allows them to manage large project deliveries and serve as the ultimate source of truth for data throughout an organization.
Increasingly, native mobile applications are another important component of compelling CXM experiences because they serve not just as a means of delivering experiences, but also as an engine that produces irreplaceable data about customers. Native mobile applications are already well-known for the ability to deliver important information about an order status (as the Amazon app says, “your order is 4 stops away from delivery”), but they also represent exciting new ways for product visualization, such as augmented and virtual reality, wayfinding and now, as guided facilitators of new experiences.Hospitals are even experimenting with native mobile apps that guide patients physically through the hospital to ensure they are on time and prepared, saving time and money. Both the experience delivery and the analytics they produce are so valuable in the context of improving transformational customer experiences.
Using CXM Tools To Create The Ideal Experience for Each Customer
That’s really just scratching the surface of the major components of compelling CXM; there are countless dedicated tools and platforms that provide unique value once incorporated into a larger CXM strategy. Product information management tools (PIMs) allow for the easy definition of catalogs and data that are easily re-purposed for white label and OEM opportunities. Marketing automation tools work to deliver timely, targeted content to prospective customers. Digital asset management (DAM) tools allow companies to manage media assets in a streamlined, standardized and cost-effective way to ensure maximum flexibility and accessibility of expensive content.
With so many different possible combinations of tools, platforms and capabilities, companies can quickly become overwhelmed. Making matters worse is the fact that many of the features and capabilities of one system overlap with features and functions of other, adjacent systems, leading to complex questions as to which platform to use and when. Looking from the perspective of the customer, every experience has to be seamless and aligned, which is more difficult when multiple systems are involved.
CXM platforms like Episerver and Sitecore are ideally positioned to solve these complex challenges because they serve as the heart of the entire digital ecosystem. They connect directly to CRM, ERP, PIM, DAM and other tools to deliver experiences that are consistent, brand-aligned and meaningful. One of the biggest mistakes is to think of CXM solutions as web-specific. While true in the earlier days of digital marketing, today’s CXM platforms deliver experiences as varied as the businesses they serve. Today’s CXM platforms excel at web-based experiences, of course, but also power native mobile applications, in-store messaging and kiosks, point of sale systems and much more.
Here’s a smattering of examples of what today’s CXM platforms can enable:
1. Generating qualified customer leads – Using CXM’s personalization, A/B and multivariate testing capabilities, marketers are able to generate inbound traffic, send it to dedicated microsites, test sales messages and optimize conversion paths to generate market qualified leads. CRM integration allows for a variety of conversion experiences, including linking to marketing automation follow-ups for nurture campaigns or linking to direct transactional commerce offers for the right customer segments.
2. Customer Self-Service – CXM, when connected to ERP and similar back-end tools, allows for customer self-service experiences as varied as simple payment tracking to complex configuration and management of intangible products like insurance policies. The cost savings associated with delivering these kinds of capabilities are staggering on their own, but are equally impressive when the customer’s ability to manage important business on their own terms and schedule is considered.
3. Personalized task identification/completion – CXM excels at delivering highly personalized experiences and as such, are ideal solutions for complex transactions that require a personalized touch. For example, consider loan or college applications that require various forms of documentation and have multiple, time-dependent steps. CXM’s ability to connect to a variety of internal systems and to nurture the user through their own steps not only increase the number of successful applications, but improve customer satisfaction, as well. Prime examples of these kinds of experiences are found in tax calculation software, online banking/loan applications, insurance selections and more.
4. Fluid Commerce – The ability to conduct commerce in any context is made possible through the use of CXM platforms that interface with back-end POS and ERP tools. Once again, CXM is at the heart of the experience, delivering personalized sales experiences in web browsers, on in-store kiosks and through native mobile apps. All aspects of commerce – researching products, reviewing specialized offers, cross-sells and upsells, conversion, fulfillment and post-sale care – can be delivered through CXM platforms that optimize the customer’s journey and make commerce frictionless.
5. Appointment Management – Actually getting customers into hospitals, colleges, retail stores and for other in-location experiences is a critical element of serving and selling to customers. CXM offers another compelling way to manage this aspect of the buying continuum by helping to match customers to in-location experiences that they are well-suited towards and managing each step of the actual experience. Matching customers to experiences can easily be done online or in the form of a mobile application, while custom on-location experiences can be delivered by connecting CXM content to native mobile apps that literally walk customers from one location to another. Reducing no-shows and becoming more efficient in this manner drives more business value, customer satisfaction and importantly, revenue.
Harnessing the True Power of CXM
These examples only scratch the surface of what is truly possible with CXM-driven digital transformation. To harness this enormous power, it’s critically important to begin from the perspective of a digital strategy. The strategy must identify the myriad possibilities that exist, distill them into achievable opportunities that are aligned toward the organization’s larger goals. You must look at competitors in market, but also benchmark possibilities by looking outside of your core marketplace, as innovation is found everywhere and consumers don’t lower their expectations when they come to interact with your brand.
With the possibilities well documented, developing a digital transformation roadmap that includes detailed personas and customer journeys is necessary. With this in hand, selecting a powerful, flexible and innovative CXM platform, like Episerver, will allow you to begin implementing and connecting to internal sources of truth to craft and deliver compelling customer experiences. These experiences will collectively allow your organization to begin better serving customers and fundamentally transform your organization into one that is obsessed with customer experience, delighting customers before they ask and differentiating yourself from your competitors.