by Petar Kajevski , May 2014
The definition of customer experience management (CXM) might be a contested topic, but there is little controversy in stating that major driver of the interest in CXM is the appearance of exciting new capabilities for understanding and interacting with customers. Equally uncontroversial is the main tenet of CXM—providing good experience during a single customer interaction requires orchestration and alignment of many different processes and systems. Taken together, however, the two statements point to the conundrum of the CXM approach: How can an organization benefit from the new, fast-evolving, solutions, while at the same time maintaining consistency and orchestrating cross-functional activities, all in the context of increasing privacy and security concerns?
To illustrate the above challenge, I will draw upon my recent experience helping business executives improve their CXM capabilities. The examples concern retail banks in emerging markets, but are quite relevant across different industries and geographies.
Bank A and Bank B both considered CXM as a strategic topic, particularly in the context of moving more of the customer interactions from the branches to the digital channels. However, they selected opposite approaches in dealing with the features vs. consistency tradeoff.
Bank A had chosen the traditional approach of longer-term planning, focusing on the classical heavy-duty projects such as implementing a full-scope customer relationship management (CRM) solution and covering a wide scope of transactions through the internet banking. They also preferred to form a fully crystallized picture of the relative merits of different CX capabilities before investing in any of them. While the approach has its merits in terms of enabling ambitious CXM activities in the long term and reducing disposed-of investments, it also has serious drawbacks—the bank is missing out on the marketing opportunities beyond the email blasts of yesteryear and is punching under its weight in attracting the desirable internet- and mobile-friendly demographic segments.
An optimal CXM support approach should explicitly take into account the high dynamism of the field, with quick changes to both the customer preferences and the available technology.
Conversely, Bank B postponed the CRM implementation until the closing of a couple of large inward-facing projects, but allowed department-level experimentation with point solutions covering niche CXM aspects. The bank did gain fairly quickly new capabilities such as advanced IVR (Interactive Voice Response) self-service, but the point nature of the solutions is preventing executives from making major changes to the operating model away from the branch-based customer handling concepts. Also, their IT landscape is rapidly gaining in complexity, with, for example, different security solutions for internet banking, the call center, and the IVR system.
For most organizations, an optimal approach to providing the technical basis for CXM would be somewhere in the middle between the extremes presented by the two banks. In addition to dealing with the quick and dirty vs. systematic and slow trade-off, an optimal CXM support approach should explicitly take into account the high dynamism of the field, with quick changes to both the customer preferences and the available technology.
The above two principles suggest a three-pronged approach to handling the CXM initiatives:
1. Identify and deliver quick wins. Delivering some quick benefits is classic advice for all complex, long-running initiatives. With CXM, there are some quickly implementable capabilities which affect only a small number of employees. For example, offering your customers decent searching of product documentation can be implemented quickly, and doesn’t have to wait for the completion of more complex self-service initiatives.
2. Develop the infrastructure. Of course, not all improvements have light process and technology requirements. The well-known requirements of avoiding the creation of customer data silos, orchestrating processes across applications (on premise and in the cloud), and ensuring proper security are just as relevant for CXM. What is new is the increased importance of the infrastructure’s flexibility, so that it’s easy to update, augment, and even replace various applications in the future.
Petar Kajevski is a director in the Insight and Customer Strategy team at Oracle.
3. Support flexibility and experimentation. Deliberate experimentation and small-scale pilots will help the lines of business understand which initiatives to prioritize. The strong presence of cloud solutions in the CXM space provides a good basis for such experimentation in terms of both technology and common commercial policies. Another aspect of supporting experimentation is being able to measure and compare the effects of various initiatives. Establishing customer experience departments tasked with the measurement of various aspects of customer satisfaction is a good start. Those departments should eventually strive to measure and understand the overall business impact of the different CXM initiatives.
Naturally, simply assigning various activities to one of the three areas above is not enough. Central leadership, whether it’s in an advisory or management role, will be required for the best coordination of the quick wins, infrastructure activities, and experimentation. Also, it’s normal that initiatives will move from one area to another. The one constant should be that the status at any given moment is clear to all stakeholders.