Digital Experience Scope Creep: Getting Your Hands around the Omni-Channel Customer Journey
In the just-published Forrester Wave™: Web Content Management Systems, Q1 2015 report, analyst Ted Schadler discusses the role of web content management (WCM) systems in a customer journey. He lists the many tools and channels involved in managing customers' digital experiences in this graphic:
Look at all those channels spread around the customer journey. Now think about the thousands to millions of customers your business serves. The number and variety of channels through which customers and brands interact is growing every year, creating not just scope creep in digital experience management but more like scope explosion. This tidy little graphic represents literally countless points of contact between your employees and customers. This is why the idea of omni-channel customer communications can be pretty overwhelming.
The Key to Getting a Handle on Omni-Channel Is Integration
It's a given that every step of the customer journey is important to your bottom line. You can't focus on just one piece at the expense of the others without the probability of losing customers along the way. The key is integration. All these people and business functions have to play well together in the big digital sandbox, which unfortunately too seldom happens.
Picture the different departments and software that handle each step of the customer journey and/or each channel you use in your organization. Marketing and sales, focused on acquisition, likely use a software suite that includes marketing automation, campaign management and so on. They have their own analytics for the digital channels they manage. Then there's your operations department or IT, who manage communications for ongoing engagement (that's where we in DOCCM live). They, too, use software to create, send and track their customer communications. They probably never see what marketing is doing, and vice-versa. Your web developers, engineers, product managers, billing department, claims and legal, customer service representatives and more, all likely have their own systems, processes and solutions as well.
And the list of departments and tools goes on and one while the walls of the silos grow taller and thicker. Each group has its singular focus along the customer journey and its own proprietary software tools that don't necessarily work with other enterprise tools. They frequently fight for bandwidth to use the database and bog each other down in the system. So while your organization may be addressing all the parts of the customer journey, the journey may still feel very disjointed to the customers traveling that road.
How to Eat an Elephant: One Bite at a Time
So the omni-channel journey is the biggest elephant to ever step into the customer experience (CX) room. How do you deal with the inevitable silos and the fact that many of your software tools don't interact well or at all with each other? One bite at a time.
From our perspective in customer communications management (CCM), the answer is to look for software tools that are designed for maximum integration. Software that is too proprietary and locked down makes it far more difficult to break down silos between various groups managing different steps of the customer journey. Even better, look for vendors that offer technical support that partners with your IT team to achieve the smoothest implementation and integration possible. (Topdown, of course, offers a high level of integration along with the collaborative technical support to achieve it.)
So start with one piece of the customer journey and address each department and tool as you work your way around. Stitch things together as you go, making sure that you're not only improving how the tools and processes are working together under the overall web content management umbrella, but that your people are working together cross-functionally as well. Employees have their journey, too, and they must see themselves as important pieces of the whole.
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.