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Data Gaps Create Blind Spots

15th Dec 2016
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Getting Lost on the Customer Journey

By Stephan Romeder, General Manager Europe, Magic Software

Many companies have the goal of gaining a 360-degree view of their customer interactions. However many CRM systems just don’t include all of the customer touch points needed to get a full picture.  Without the proper integrations, important pieces of information can be missing limiting customer service and sales people’s ability to positively influence the customer experience. For example, based on research released by the EU last year, more enterprises used customer relationship management (CRM) for operational purposes (31%) rather than for strategic analysis of ways to improve customer relationships (21%).

One reason why information falls through the cracks is that there are more smart devices used by field service and customer facing employees to collect customer data, and more specialized applications that manage this data for each stop of the sales cycle. Transactions are sometimes processed in e-Commerce, 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.

There is no shortage of business applications, cloud services and social media sites that touch your customers. Understanding the full customer journey has never been more complex.

Mapping the Customer Journey  

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, but also to capture a 360-degree view of the entire customer experience so that actionable reliable information is available to all customer facing reps in near real time so they can provide better service. The goal is leverage all of the integrated data and make it available to sales, customer support, and field service reps when they need it most to surround customers with a quality experience that satisfies and delights them so they become raving fans.

As you seek to identify the key parts of the journey, the areas where excelling above the competition will cause your enterprise to thrive, you need to look at all of the processes, as well as the various systems that interact with them, and discover improvements that can influence customer loyalty.

What is needed is not an analysis focused on each step of the sale process, but also an awareness of where these processes touch and overlap, analyzing data across the different systems, while investigating ways to trigger processes between the systems to improve the customer experience. Building a real-time customer architecture to support customer experiences means spanning multiple systems with triggers, alerts, alarms and escalations. Middleware that does more than just data integration, but also handles real-time business process orchestration can help provide the needed glue to enable data sharing between the systems.

Bridging the gaps

The extra effort to uncover the connections between each step of the journey is essential since holes in customer information can cause tangible business risk.

Suffering through these gaps can cause product delivery delays, inaccurate order data resulting in product returns, slower response times to product problems, and a drain in a passion to provide excellent service due to deteriorating employee and customer satisfaction. To avoid these black holes in the customer journey, all of the various IT systems need to share data: shopping, buying, delivering and servicing customers, must be processes that are all connected.

Automating customer facing processes across IT systems is the best way to improve and optimize the customer experience. Having a platform that can help map sales processes and share data between systems can be an important enabler to ensure that customers don’t get lost along their journey, and that companies don’t lose these customers as a result.

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