Author: Ville Immonen / Head of Sales & Marketing
Date: 2021-09-27

How to Choose the Right Tech for Your Customer Experience Strategy

Today, customer experience is the new marketing. As a result, customer-obsessed firms must break down organisational silos to focus on the needs of their customers. But disparate and overlapping technology investments severely hamper their collaboration efforts. Therefore, it is critical to understand when and why to implement various technologies as components of the enterprise customer experience (CX) ecosystem. This article will address how CX strategies must consider the overall goal of a company to devise technology expenditures that will support it.

Overlapping technologies make it more challenging to make an investment decision.

Customer experience is often broken down into several components, each with its own technology stack operated by different functions inside the company. The challenge evolves when different technologies are used across the organisation for similar purposes. Typical challenge rises when the CX professional may want to focus on the entire customer experience by tracking insights from a variety of touchpoints throughout the customer journey but aren't able to do so because they cannot understand what happens during the journey from multiple different tech platforms.

For each team, the benefits of using these technologies are evident. Yet when their feeds overlap, they end up working against one another instead of for a common goal—the customer experience (CX). The most common issue is that customer journeys typically cross multiple functions and technologies. But technology vendors focus on providing solutions for different departments (web analytics for Marketing, CRM for Sales, ERP for finance etc.). All these are important, but the underlying issue comes when you need to get a holistic view of the customer journey and their experience.

The most effective CX initiatives are ones that seamlessly integrate all channels and touchpoints along the entire journey—from pre-sales activities to post-sales support. This is increasingly important as customers adopt new technologies rapidly and expect brands to be available — or even anticipate their needs — in all channels.

Regardless of the size or sector, there are several key aspects to consider when choosing technology for your customer experience strategy. The CX sector is rife with numerous technical solutions that promise to alleviate problems, so it's essential to know what issues you want to address and how.

Recognise where each technology is most helpful in your customer experience plan.

Let's begin by looking at the most popular and trending technologies to understand customer experience better and determine the next best action in your client journeys.

Customer Journey Orchestration (CJO)

Customer-centric teams put effort into the CJO solution to find, optimise and orchestrate their customer journeys. Typically, companies investing in CJO solutions recognise that they have complex journeys across departments with multiple objectives during the journey. CJO help them to use real-time data at the individual customer level to analyse current behaviour and predict and adjust future behaviour. This is achieved by matching the right technology with each stage in a customer journey, creating an optimal experience that enhances brand loyalty. These solutions give a cohesive, actionable, and real-time view of the customer across awareness, onboarding, or loyalty journeys.

The ability of an organisation’s technology stack to support a holistic experience strategy is critical when it comes to customer journey orchestration (CJO).

What is a typical use case for customer journey orchestration?

The best way to describe CJO is by using an example: A retail company has developed a new product for consumers. As part of their customer experience strategy, they want to simplify the purchasing process and encourage a seamless user flow for customers. They also seek to engage with these customers through increased interaction by providing rewards for making a number of purchases.

In this example, CJO technologies would help identify each customer's journey from awareness/research to purchase and post-purchase. Then, based on the stage of their journey, a specific action would be assigned that is most relevant for each individual user.

The most common use case is identifying users who "drop-off" from their journeys and then creating corrective actions like personalised content to assignments to sales reps to get them to join back to the started journey.

The typical success factors are sales uplifts, loyalty programs, upsell & cross-selling, decreased attrition, cost reduction, efficiency improvement, cost savings, moments of truths (MOTs), and root cause understanding.

Real-time Interaction Management (RTIM)

Real-time interaction management (RTIM) is an approach that enables organisations to respond in real-time by leveraging both people and technology. RTIM delivers contextually relevant experiences, value, and usefulness at the right time in the customer journey via preferred customer touchpoints. RTIM is essentially about automating the customer experience (CX) with intelligent routing, self-service capabilities, proactive alerts based on rules/behaviours/patterns etc. Like CJO, they embrace the notion of a consumer journey. Still, they don't provide the exact journey visualisation or simplicity of use as the CJO vendors since they are targeted at more technical users.

Therefore, RTIM implementations are often growing out of customer relationship management (CRM) environments and involve custom integrations with applications for human-assisted channels. Most of the solutions are built on a foundation of enterprise customer data management, real-time streaming data ingestion, and complex analytics such as machine learning and AI to support a wide range of bespoke analytical models.

What is a typical use case for RTIM?

Real-time interaction management is best used in cases where customers require immediate attention. For example, an insurance company selling life insurance may want to offer a discount on premiums for new customers who sign up within the next 24 hours. They may do this by utilising RTIM to take care of these interactions with the next-best action automatically.

The following are the typical success indicators in RTIM programs: sales uplift, profitability, cost-to-serve, average revenue per unit, loyalty, engagement, lead to conversion timings.

Customer Data Platforms (CDP)

Customer data platforms (CDPs) are a subset of Customer Data Management solutions that offer the ability to serve as an enterprise single source of truth for customer identity and behaviour at scale. These systems collect, normalise, and centralise all first-party interactions across marketing channels in real-time, creating a 360-degree view of customers by bringing together data from multiple sources.

CDPs are able to ingest customer data via APIs, offline datasets and other systems in their ever-growing global footprint of touchpoints with key customers.

Customer data is ingested by CDPs, which provide analytical, segmentation, and activation tools. In addition, workflows on the data layer, often focused on marketing and personalisation purposes, are available in many CDPs. They then allow you to store the information in a central location for easy access by business users across all departments, including marketing analytics teams that seek insights into individual or groups of customers for targeting and personalisation.

CDPs also provide the ability to deliver a complete view of all customer interactions across channels, allowing marketers to analyse past touchpoints with individual users in order to create an even more personalised experience in the future. They can do this by creating unique profiles that group similar individuals or entities based on their distinct attributes for targeting.

What is a typical use case for a customer data platform?

Customer data platforms are best used in cases where large volumes of customer information need to be accessed easily and quickly. For example, a retail organisation may want to increase the personalisation of its email campaigns by drawing upon past purchase history from transactional databases for targeted product recommendations. They may do this by utilising a CDP to bring together all of their first-party customer data in order to create one source of truth for marketing analysis.

The following are the common success indicators you can expect with your implementation: increased ROI, improved targeting effectiveness, more significant lead generation, lead-to-customer conversions, customer acquisitions, upsell/cross-sell opportunities.

Cross-channel campaign management (CCCM)

Cross-channel campaign management (CCCM) is the process of executing and managing multi-channel marketing campaigns. Typically the goal is to make sure that a company's messages reach its customers across all channels at once and in an integrated way wherever possible. Thus, CCCM can be seen as both a subset of cross channel integration and an extension of direct marketing.

Although CCCM is most often associated with outbound channels such as email and mobile messaging, it may also be used to personalise inbound channels like mobile apps, e-commerce, and websites. Marketing messages are broadcasted across all channels simultaneously to ensure the highest possible reach of the targeted audience. Some CCCM tools further support print (direct mail) campaigns and make campaign information available to human-assisted channels for presentation to customers.

What is a typical use case for cross-channel campaign management?

Cross-channel campaign management (CCCM) is ideal for companies who want to inform customers of new products, promote discounts and offers, advertise events or other news. It can also be used by businesses that wish to monitor customer behaviour across channels over time to understand their needs and interests better.

A typical use case may include a retail store promoting a sale to drive customers into the physical location; an online retailer notifying users of new products that may interest them based on past purchase history or browsing patterns.

In most situations, CCCM solutions go to market with CX or CJO messaging, but they typically provide marketing automation technologies. Therefore, to execute marketing orchestration, we usually recommend using the CCCM in conjunction with either CJO or RTIM.

In general, each of these technologies is advertising themselves with similar claims, leading to uncertainty and might give an incorrect picture of which technology area the CX strategy should focus on. For example, if your company offers complicated journeys with extended duration relationships that incorporate several internal processes, I recommend you look into Customer Journey Orchestration or Real-time interaction management. On the other hand, if your company is particularly focused on the consumer market, eCommerce is an essential business component, or you are unsure about the target audience. Then CDP and CCCM solutions may be ideal for you.

There are several areas of overlap in customer journey orchestration (CJO), real-time interaction management (RTIM), cross-channel campaign management (CCCM), and customer data platforms (CDPs). At a high level, all provide customer data management and analytics functionality and processes to enable businesses to take advantage of those insights to improve customer engagement and CX delivery. However, look a little deeper, and you'll find significant distinctions in how these solutions meet corporate needs.

Marketing Automation

Marketing automation refers to software that streamlines, automates and measures marketing tasks. Marketing automation makes it possible for companies of all sizes to more easily manage contacts in their databases (CRM), execute nurturing programs across multiple channels (e.g., email, SMS text messaging, social media) and measure the results they’re getting in terms of contacts and conversions.

Marketing Automation is a subset of cross-channel integration and an extension of direct marketing, whereas CCCM falls under the umbrella of customer experience management (CXM). What's more, Marketing Automation is typically sold as software that enables marketers to reach customers across different channels such as email, social media platforms, and mobile devices. And it does so by integrating with content management systems (CMSs) or custom-built websites to automate marketing tasks across channels.

What is a typical use case for marketing automation?

Marketing automation is typically considered a subset of cross-channel integration within the customer experience management category because it focuses on reaching customers through different channels such as email, social media platforms, and mobile devices.

CJOs, CDPs, RTIM & CCCM are often confused with marketing automation because they all help companies manage the customer experience across different channels. While this is certainly true, there’s no comparison in capabilities or pricing between any of these solutions when it comes to marketing automation software. Whereas Marketing Automation focuses on automating and integrating marketing tasks, CDPs help companies manage customer data across channels.

When choosing the right technology for your customer experience strategy, it is critical to understand when and why to implement various technologies as components of the enterprise customer ecosystem. Customer-obsessed firms must break down organisational silos to focus on the needs of their customers. But disparate and overlapping technology investments hamper collaboration efforts; therefore, if you are looking to keep up with your customers, you should consider implementing one or more of the following technologies;

  • Customer journey orchestration is ideal for companies who want to inform customers of new products, promote discounts and offers, advertise events or other news.

  • Real-time interaction management is best used by businesses that wish to monitor customer behaviour across channels over time to understand their needs and interests better.

  • Customer data platforms are ideal for companies to understand their customers better, drive customer value, and build strong relationships with them.

  • Cross-channel campaign management is a good option for companies who want to inform customers of new products, promote discounts and offers, advertise events or other news.

If you are looking to keep up with your customers, one or more of these technologies may be helpful in improving your CX strategy.

Thank you for reading this post. I hope that the information provided has been helpful to you, and please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Comments are most welcome and appreciated