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What Does “Digital First” Mean in Digital Customer Experience Management Today? Blog Feature
John Zimmerer

By: John Zimmerer on October 13th, 2017

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What Does “Digital First” Mean in Digital Customer Experience Management Today?

Customer Experience | Customer Communications

We first wrote about what the term “digital first” means in customer communications management (CCM) last year, but we wanted to revisit the idea because the digital customer experience landscape is changing. Read on to find out what it means to manage customer engagement across all of your customer journeys, channels and touchpoints.

Last year, we defined digital first as follows:

Digital first is a philosophy of content creation that calls for optimizing the design of communications for delivery via responsive digital channels (i.e., web, mobile, etc.) over the page-oriented print channel. It’s important to note that a digital-first approach does not preclude print as a potential delivery channel. Instead, it means creating a flexible environment that allows you to optimize for as many channels as possible. In other words, one tool needs to support the ability to deliver content across web, mobile, social, SMS, print, fax, etc.

All that is still true and correct. However, the concept of putting digital first is evolving and growing as digital experience technology grows and evolves. Now we need to think of it more broadly, both operationally and technologically.

Everything starts with digital now, so “digital first” needs to refer to all the building blocks of the customer journeys that customer communications management and other digital experience technologies facilitate. In CCM, the digital building blocks include digital reusable objects that range from text and images to styles, layouts and templates. They also include customer data and the ability to share it across applications and functions, integrated content services and workflows, and APIs that link it all together.

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Operationally Optimize Customer Journeys

That’s the world we’re moving toward — one in which we extend operational efficiencies beyond our traditional perception. It’s all about optimizing for the customer journey and not the specific engagement, communication, or workflow. Customer-centricity has permeated many parts of organizations, particularly the marketing department, but it’s been slower to influence operations thus far. Operations is behind-the-scenes stuff, right? What does it have to do with the customer experience?

Wikipedia defines business operations as “the harvesting of value from assets owned by a business. Assets can be either physical or intangible. An example of value derived from a physical asset, like a building, is rent. An example of value derived from an intangible asset, like an idea, is royalty. The effort involved in ‘harvesting’ this value is what constitutes business operations cycles.” In other words, operations is about managing the business’s assets with the goal of minimizing cost while maximizing value (i.e., income). With such a cold, numbers-oriented goal set, of course operations managers are reluctant to shift their attention to esoteric concepts like customer journeys and digital experience software selection. But that's only focusing on cost, without consideration for income.

Why You Should Connect Your Silos of Engagement

Research has repeatedly tied consistently positive customer experiences to revenue. And as customers want more and more of their communication with brands to be conducted through digital channels, the need to continually improve digital customer experiences is also clearly tied to a company’s potential income. That brings CX squarely into the purview of operations.

CCM, being traditionally print-based and dependent on printing, postage and mailing — and therefore a cost center has always lived under the operations umbrella. But now, more and more operations leaders are beginning to see how the organization’s entire digital experience technology infrastructure is an operational concern as well.

Operations must now collaborate with IT, Marketing, eCommerce and Service leaders to select the most operationally streamlined and cost-effective CX delivery platforms and applications for the entire organization. This means finding software that not only fulfills its intended functions well but can also integrate with other software so that employees aren’t wasting time getting in and out of multiple applications to get the data or content they need; customers aren’t having inconsistent and disjointed experiences with the brand as they move through their journeys; and money isn’t being wasted on redundant, ineffective or unused software scattered throughout the organization.

How To Deliver Digital-First Operational Efficiencies

Business users across your organization need tools designed to optimize digital-first operational efficiencies. They need software like INTOUCH®, which is 100% cloud-based and offers affordable and transparent pricing. It’s the first completely new CCM solution in years, with an exceptionally business-user-friendly UI and UX so that organizations are able to generate more personalized communications far more quickly and easily than ever before.

INTOUCH also has a services-based architecture built using containers and microservices with a variety of APIs that offer companies unprecedented flexibility of deployment and integration with the rest of their digital experience technologies. INTOUCH is so powerful that it can serve as a holding tank for digital raw material, generate digital content for delivery through virtually any channel, plug into customer journeys to get data and context, and deliver communications through a variety of channels and touchpoints.

It’s an operations leader’s dream. INTOUCH cuts costs associated with headcount and employee hours, technology purchase/subscription, and printing and mailing — all while helping to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty, which in turn increases revenue.

Interested in finding out what INTOUCH can do to help increase your organization’s operational efficiency? Get in touch with us. We’ll help you evaluate your CCM operations and determine the best solution for you.

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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.

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