IT Brief New Zealand - Technology news for CIOs & IT decision-makers
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Enhancing the customer experience with data
Mon, 29th Jun 2020
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Simply put, without customers, businesses don't exist. In today's ultra-competitive and highly-volatile business environment, keeping customers happy can be the difference between your organisation's success or failure.

Whether your customers are consumers or other businesses, you can't just rely on a great product to deliver results. A properly managed end-to-end customer experience — with the right interaction at every touchpoint in the customer journey — lies at the core of business success.

Customers now expect to connect with your organisation across different platforms and applications — wherever, however, and whenever they wish. Customers don't have the time or patience for companies to figure it out; they go where they have the easiest, most satisfying experience.

What's stopping seamless CX?

Customer experience (CX) is supposed to drive everything, but many organisations have experienced digital transformation in a disconnected way. Big internal initiatives get funded, but execution often occurs in siloed pockets, with bridges from one project to another often overlooked.

Too often, those responsible for CX are left to try to unify and optimise the experience customers have, but face disparate objectives and investments from the marketing, sales, product development, IT, and other teams. It can feel like everyone has been given the mandate to improve CX, however priorities and approaches can differ between each line of business.

From when a customer explores your website, makes a purchase, pays a bill, asks a question, or lodges a complaint, different teams and different applications are activated to execute the task at hand. All of this introduces the opportunity for an inconsistent CX. What is supposed to be a seamless experience across every customer touchpoint can then feel disjointed and sub-optimal.

What's more, with many enterprises facing uncertainty in the current crisis, it has never been more important to deliver a consistent and engaging customer experience, backed by exceptional service and support. Faced with numerous unexpected challenges in these times, it's natural for customers to re-evaluate whether the value provided by suppliers is worth the time, cost, and effort. As a result, this means that the relationship between the customer and the business will be heavily scrutinised; this is especially prevalent in the B2B sector.

With digital transformation a common priority for CEOs, heightened expectations of a more holistic, connected organisation are emerging. The only way to deliver the connected experience CEOs and customers expect is to integrate.

Integrating the experience

Most organisations deploy countless software solutions and cloud platforms to improve CX. Many of these technologies are great at what they do, but no one solution can do everything. If left disconnected, they only solve pieces of the puzzle and leave opportunities on the table.

A common fix by IT is to hire coders to manually build point-to-point integrations to connect various applications and data sources. However, this is time-consuming and resource-intensive; as more and more best-of-breed solutions are brought on board, IT often finds they can't keep up with increasing integration demands, resulting in the classic IT backlog. Absent integration, an organisation ends up with a web of disconnected apps and systems that don't talk to each other. The chaotic, disjointed pockets of transformation continue to proliferate.

The solution — intelligent integration. When businesses deploy cloud-based, AI-powered, self-service integration platforms that can properly manage and move data, efficiently and at scale, they open themselves up to a new world of possibilities. These platforms give IT teams a 360-degree view of an organisation's IT landscape, helping to get the most out of their enterprise-wide applications and systems, streamline common workflows and business processes, and ensure the right data is reaching the right people at the right time.

Furthermore, the more advanced integration platforms leverage intuitive user interfaces and AI and machine learning technology to support a wide range of users, meaning that those without a technical or developer background working within the marketing, sales, and support teams can contribute meaningfully to integration projects.

Having a deep understanding of your customers — their strategies and priorities, opportunities and challenges — is fundamental to a strong, productive relationship. With automated technology streamlining much of the more laborious admin-driven tasks, customers may sometimes feel like they've lost the personalised touch that comes from a person-to-person interaction. To avoid this, and ensure businesses deliver timely and tailored value to their clients, it is important to truly understand the intricacies of all that they do and engage them in the right way at the right time.

The bigger picture

When all your applications and systems can connect and communicate, data flows freely and business processes run without interruption or delay. Having this 360-degree view of your data landscape available to all stakeholders unlocks key insights that can be used to inform better decision-making and timely actions across the business. Automating integrations, workflows, and processes enables organisations to move at the speed needed to keep pace with customer expectations.

How businesses behave and treat their customers, especially in these unprecedented times, will either help to forge and solidify existing relationships or highlight inefficiencies in the customer interaction. It's more important than ever for organisations to harness the power of integrated systems and connected data to deliver an exceptional customer experience that yields happy, loyal customers for years to come.