Customer Experience Priorities


According to new research referenced by Gartner, CIOs globally have finally put “Customer Experience” into their top 10 priorities for the year. The only thing surprising to me about this, is that it took so long to happen. Clearly the customer relationship has long been a priority for organizations — how else can you explain the countless dollars and hours spent investing in CRM, Sales Automation, Marketing Automation, Web Content Management, Call Center Management, and other customer-related people, processes and technologies.

Unfortunately, the news from Gartner isn’t quite a s clear and rosy and it first seems. Dig beneath the headline of Gartner’s announcement, and you see that it is in fact CRM as a technology that has moved from 18th position to 8th position on the survey of priorities for CIOs in 2012.  And herein lies the problem.  With all the investments that organizations have already made in CRM, SA, MA etc., they really haven’t been addressing the customer experience in a direct and meaningful way.  Sure, each of those tools can improve a touchpoint or two with the customer, but to impact the overall experience you need to be thinking across the whole lifcycle of the relationship and the whole spectrum of touchpoints and bringing those things together.

Gartner does seem to acknowledge this fact in that they mention the need to be more open to embracing social media and other new mediums of communication, and that organizations need to consider the multi-channel nature of the relationship with a given customer. Gartner unfortunately then gives the job wholly to the CRM vendors to solve.  While CRM is an essential and central component of the experience management equation – there are many touchpoints with the customer that are outside the traditional CRM realm of influence that need to be brought into the fold.

So… if Customer Experience is truly a priority that CIOs want to tackle, what are they to do?  Firstly they need to assess the role of all the technologies that they have for managing aspects of their customer relationships – not just look at their CRM system.  They need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each system – and what gaps exist that need to be filled between the systems.  More often than not the gaps between systems cannot be filled by new investments or improvements in the existing technologies.  So new technology must be considered.

In the Customer Experience space, the most pressing new system to be considered is a dedicated platform for managing messaging.  A system that is fed by the upstream  customer data and intelligence systems and that consistently feeds the downstream delivery channels with messages that are relevant and personal.  The messaging management layer of the equation is where CIOs need to spend their time and attention in 2012.

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