Avoid Detours – Keeping the Customer Journey On Track
Many companies have the goal of gaining a 360-degree view of their customer interactions. However, CRM systems just don’t include all of the customer touch points needed to get a full picture. Transactions are sometimes processed in eCommerce and point-of-sale systems and even mobile order-entry apps. Work orders may be handled by field service, PLM (product lifecycle management) and other systems. Shipments to customers can be tracked using warehouse management, transportation management and logistics applications.
Without the proper integrations, important pieces of information can be missed, limiting customer service and sales people’s ability to positively influence the customer experience. Statistics released by the EU last November showing that more enterprises use customer relationship management (CRM) systems for operational purposes (31%) than for strategic analysis of ways to improve customer relationships (21%) further substantiate that CRM alone don’t provide the full customer picture.
Making customers into raving fans
So how do you truly achieve a 360-degree customer solution? First of all it’s important to clarify why you need a full customer view. It’s not only about getting a 360-degree view of data, it’s also about capturing a 360-degree view of the entire customer experience. The goal is to use all of the integrated data to surround customers with a quality experience that satisfies and delights them so they become raving fans.
For example, focusing only on data integration can tell you what happened, usually only a day later. As a result, your sales, marketing and service teams may make bad decisions based on day-old batch information. If you’re trying to service your customers based on outdated and incomplete information, it’s likely they won’t be impressed. Making sure there is up to date information, as close to real-time as possible, that is relevant to each step of the customer journey is essential for successful system integration.
McKinsey & Company, as well as other leading researchers, suggest that companies need to embed customer journeys into their operating models in four ways: (1) they must identify the journeys in which they need to excel, (2) understand how they are currently performing in each, (3) build cross-functional processes to redesign and support those journeys, and (4) institute cultural change and continuous improvement to sustain the initiatives at scale.
To do this, companies should identify the key parts of the journey, the areas where excelling above the competition will cause your enterprise to thrive. Then examine all of the processes, as well as the various systems that interact with them, so you can analyze the improvements that can be made.
Fortunately, the various systems that manage different aspects of the functional processes don’t need to change radically. However, what does need to change is your ability to trigger processes and analyze data across the different systems. Building a real-time customer architecture to support customer experiences means spanning multiple systems with triggers, alerts, alarms and escalations. This means you need a system integration solution that does more than just data integration, you need one that handles real-time business process orchestration as well.
Bridging the gaps
An integration effort must be made to improve overall organizational efficiency and bridge the gap between the systems, with the goal of optimizing each step along each individual customer journey. In addition to creating unnecessary work, process gaps cause tangible business risk. Suffering through these gaps causes organizations to be susceptible to human error; experience slower response times; sustain increased process costs; and suffer deteriorating employee satisfaction.
Tracking the customer experience is not just about collecting all the data, but also about streamlining customer service, order processing, and sales administration. To avoid black holes in the customer journey, all of the various IT systems related to all steps along the customer journey: shopping, buying, delivering and servicing customers, must be connected.
There is no shortage of business applications, cloud services and social media sites that touch your customers. Automating and connecting customer facing processes across IT systems is the best way to improve and optimize the customer experience.
Stephan Romeder, is the General Manager of Magic Software Enterprises Europe, a leading provider of multi-channel application development, application integration and enterprise mobility solutions. He is also the Managing Director of Magic Software Deutschland, covering Germany, Austria...