Ensure that the value chain is working efficiently.
Posted Jul 1, 2006
To drive growth, C-level executives at Global 2000 companies are working to increase customer satisfaction, improve market agility, and strengthen their brands across global markets. In recent years these executives used CRM systems to optimize sales transaction processes, but now their challenges are greater. To reach their goals for growth, executives today are finding they must go beyond CRM to create and optimize a comprehensive customer experience strategy.
Think of customer experience as the collection of all interactions a customer has with a company, its products, and its partners, across all customer touch points (the channels for customer interaction, such as mobile devices, contact centers, email messages, Web sites, printed pieces, and retail stores), across all geographies, and throughout all stages of the customer lifecycle, from initial customer attraction through fulfillment to retention.
Customer experience is central to each of the three corporate goals mentioned above. Customer satisfaction, for instance, is improved by delivering a relevant, personalized, and consistent customer experience across every customer touch point. Market agility is enhanced by accelerating the delivery of new brands, messages, and promotions to customers. And delivering a consistent customer experience across world markets and languages is essential for building a strong global brand.
But an optimal customer experience is easier to describe than to deliver. In practical terms companies must coordinate numerous content creators worldwide, combine the content they create with centrally controlled and approved digital assets (electronic documents, images, PDF files, or other digital media that constitute an asset), localize it for specific markets, personalize it for specific customers, and publish it across the full range of customer interaction touch points.
To date, few companies have optimized this entire create-to-publish customer experience process. The lack of an enterprisewide strategic approach undermines the very objectives executives are seeking to achieve, causing:
Decreased customer satisfaction: Inaccurate, out-of-date, or incomplete customer information prevents people from understanding companies and their products, and can drive customers away.
Sluggish market execution: Labor-intensive manual processes require months-long lead times to roll out brand changes, new products, and new campaigns, delaying launches and weakening competitive advantage.
Diluted brands and messaging: Without the capability for centralized control, brands and messages become distorted as they are altered for the requirements of different touch points and diverse global markets.
At the same time, another penalty is incurred, because customer experience inefficiencies increase the costs of each customer interaction, damaging the bottom line.
Solution: Customer Experience Management
Piecemeal attempts to resolve these widespread problems simply do not work. Focusing on one particular type of customer interaction or on one customer touch point may improve one aspect of the overall customer experience, but will also likely result in duplication of content, inconsistent content usage, and redundant processes, which only compound enterprise-wide difficulties.
A far more effective approach is customer experience management, the combining of an enterprise's entire create-to-publish customer experience process within a single ecosystem, uniting content management, digital asset management, localization, content distribution, and more. With a systematic approach, a company can consistently deliver persuasive, customer-facing content through all customer touch points to:
Strengthen customer loyalty: A customer experience management solution provides capabilities for personalization and interaction management so companies can anticipate and meet the specific needs of each customer for each interaction. The automation of manual processes prevents misalignment across channels and improves customer satisfaction.
Accelerate worldwide product launches and promotions: By supporting all processes from collaborative creation through global publishing, customer experience management enables an enterprise to create customer content that can be used immediately around the world. Business units can eliminate IT bottlenecks by rapidly generating and deploying their own marketing assets without risking misalignment with enterprise-level business objectives.
Achieve unified brands, messages, and corporate image: A customer experience management solution provides business units around the world with a library of approved, localized brand messages and marketing assets. By combining local authoring with centralized control, customer experience management helps companies move quickly in every geography while projecting the brand in a consistent light to build customer loyalty.
In addition to these strategic benefits, from an operational perspective the automation of manual processes prevents redundant work and optimizes efficiency, often enabling enterprises to substantially reduce the costs of providing customer information.
CRM is essential for managing the transactional aspects of the customer relationship, but it is no longer enough. Executives seeking to build customer loyalty, improve market agility, and manage their brands across global markets are finding that customer experience management offers both a solution to address the challenges of today and a platform to improve competitiveness moving forward.
About the Author
Bill Seawick is CMO at Interwoven. Please visit www.interwoven.com
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