Why Customer Journeys Need 360-Degree Integration
When we say “360-degree integration,” we mean integrating the people, processes and technology involved in customer communications all the way around the entire customer life cycle. Most customer journeys are going to cross multiple touchpoints, and therefore multiple departments and myriad technologies. There’s a certain amount of integration required to simply deliver content across all the different channels, particularly if you want your customer-facing communication to look, sound and feel like it’s all coming from a single entity (and you do).
The Need for a 360-Degree Integration
But it goes beyond that. The study we commissioned through Forrester Consulting shows us that businesses want tools that will help them manage and report on customer-facing communications – including marketing and service-related communications – throughout the customer journey. Having this 360-degree view would empower organizational decision-making and allocation of resources so that customer experience (CX) can be more balanced and consistent at every touchpoint.
The Common Element Is Data
At each touchpoint around the customer life cycle, companies collect data from interactions with potential and existing customers. The kind of data collected, along with how it’s used and stored, varies by each department’s business goals – we’ll go into that more later – but it’s all just data! There is no reason why different content management (i.e., composition/development and delivery) systems shouldn’t be able to draw upon each other’s data sets for better automation and personalization capabilities. And yet, in most enterprises today, data resides in multiple siloed, proprietary systems that don’t talk to each other, ranging all the way from legacy mainframes to the latest applications in the Cloud.
Disparate and disconnected data means that we’re too often repeating our own efforts and/or missing out on insights that other parts of our own organizations are gathering. Such redundancy wastes both technological and human resources. 360-degree data integration would reduce such waste and allow for both bottom-up measurement and top-down analysis.
What’s Needed for 360-Degree Integration
What we need for 360-degree integration are customer communications management (CCM) systems and digital experience delivery (DXD) platforms that are open enough to allow other systems within the organization to reach in and draw from interaction data gathered at different touchpoints. This in turn means we need APIs that can collect data from different sources, map it against other data, and consolidate it for other purposes. And finally, we need tools that will allow us to draw all this data together to assess the quality of the interactions as a whole so we can build a picture of overall CX and draw connections from touchpoints and journeys to revenue and expenses.
Don’t Let Your Customers “Disappear”
Once a customer moves to a different touchpoint and another part of the organization, can your disconnected departments and their different technologies “see” those customers anymore, or do they “disappear”? Do customers essentially have to start all over again with you when they change channels or move into a new stage of their journey with you? Is there a way to see all their interactions with your brand, all in one place? Can you generate a report that shows a customer’s complete journey with you, across all channels and touchpoints over time? Since the tools don’t exist to do that effectively at this point, your answer is probably, “No.” But wouldn’t it be nice? We certainly think so! So we’re working on a solution to bridge those gaps.
As we’ve established, customers get unhappy very quickly if they have to navigate a confusing IVR system or web site, repeating their background and questions over and over again to people throughout an organization while searching for the department or individual who has the answer they’re seeking. Remember, remove barriers for customers and always, always make their interactions with you easy and efficient so they have positive emotions in response. Integration of your people, processes and technology removes barriers and increases customer satisfaction, loyalty and positive word of mouth. Without it, your customers will certainly disappear by leaving you for one of your competitors with a fully integrated customer experience.
About John Zimmerer
John Zimmerer is the senior director of marketing at Topdown, where he leads market research and outreach efforts for the company's customer communications and customer experience products. Most recently, John has been researching and writing about the future direction of the technologies that power customer experience, and is regarded as a thought leader in this area. John has nearly 20 years of software product marketing experience. His areas of expertise include market research, analyst relations, public relations and digital marketing.