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Extending enterprise systems
for a more positive customer experience

This article appears in the issue February 2015 [Vol 24, Issue 2]
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Not that long ago, the “customer experience” might have been a trip to the store to purchase an item and a subsequent conversation with a call center to inquire about how to get the item repaired. Now it usually entails online research to compare features and prices, a look at ratings by other customers, purchase of the product from a store or e-commerce site, and a round of technical support by phone, e-mail or chat.

Thus, today’s purchases take place in an increasingly complex environment of channels, events and processes. Numerous sources state that 70 percent of the decision-making process occurs prior to any direct interactions with sales personnel.

The enabling technology to provide the customer experience consists of an array of different and sometimes overlapping applications that have often evolved over time to cover new functions. Several avenues are available to get a 360-degree view of the customer and then put that understanding to work to provide a positive customer experience.

From WCM to customer experience platform

When the age of the digital customer experience began, it was focused on the Web experience, but early websites lacked functionality and flexibility. Since then, Web content management (WCM) systems have improved to the point where they not only provide content and interactivity, but also are a hub for analytics and marketing.

As part of its marketing plan for the eastern Canadian province, Tourism New Brunswick works to create awareness about the many attractions, activities and events the province has to offer, as well as to generate referrals and bookings to the tourism businesses profiled on the website.

“We needed a new digital solution to improve customers’ online experience,” says Carol Alderdice, manager of Web technology and industry communications at Tourism New Brunswick, “one that offered personalization features and the ability to integrate opportunities from a multichannel perspective and deliver an integrated customer experience.”

With assistance from T4G, the organization selected and implemented the Sitecore Experience Platform. Tourism New Brunswick is now able to determine the different travel experiences visitors are looking for and then provide relevant content according to those preferences rather than requiring guests to navigate information on the website. The location-based and personalization campaigns are both showing positive results.

Sitecore has steadily increased the functionality of its product both through expanding features and by acquiring or partnering with companies. For example, it added social media management and marketing through buying a majority stake in Komfo, and integrating it with its customer experience platform. It also partnered with ADAM Software to offer enterprise-level digital asset management (DAM) capabilities.

Future actions

The Sitecore Experience Platform represents a significant extension of the traditional WCM system. “Our Sitecore Experience Database enables our clients to know every individual they are doing business with,” says Mark Floisand, VP of product marketing at Sitecore. “This information, which begins with the first contact and extends through all the customer’s purchases, can be collected in our database so that marketers have one repository containing all the information.”

The Sitecore Experience Platform can therefore shape future interactions, because it contains information about the actions of each customer on each channel, whether they were launching a process on their mobile device or accessing content via their desktop computer.

“When a user arrives at a site for the first time, he or she is anonymous but Sitecore can put a cookie on their computer,” explains Floisand. “In a subsequent interaction the person might fill out a form, and then the company knows more about him.” Every interaction becomes part of the history, and each one is relevant to the next action.

All the data is automatically analyzed. “Sitecore provides the ability to compare all channels and to surface the potential value that marketers can expect from taking certain actions such as personalizing content,” Floisand adds. “Customer information can also be exported into CRM systems.”

Legacy systems have created a fragmented view of customers that can be difficult to interpret. “Some customers might not reply to e-mails but they are very active on social channels and are advocating for the company because they like it,” Floisand says. “Since everything is in one place in the Sitecore system, these gaps are easier to bridge.” Every touch point should add to the value of the profile, and build on the previous conversation.

Evolving CRM

Customer relationship management (CRM) systems are expanding their reach to offer analytics, incorporate social media feedback, recommend marketing actions and initiate process changes.

After a customer has committed to a company, the initial engagement is critical. OCBC Bank in Singapore was well aware that its onboarding process was tedious and cumbersome, involving about 150 steps. The bank wanted to ensure that the first interaction was positive and engaging. To do that, OCBC created a platform called Relationship Opening Made Easy (ROME), based on Pegasystems’ CRM solution.

Designed to be used together by staff and customers, ROME has enabled OCBC to provide a positive customer experience from the outset, as well as capture customer information needed for subsequent interactions. The information is used in conjunction with big data to make the right recommendations to customers. Integrating more than 30 legacy systems, ROME supports all of OCBC’s financial products across all channels. The bank reports a lead of 40 percent in customer satisfaction over that of competitors, an increase in the net promoter score (NPS) and an increase in the number of bank products the customers opt to use.

Many companies have used the Pegasystems platform, which provides case management and intelligent guidance, to automate and improve their back-office business processes. About 10 years ago, Pegasystems realized that many CRM activities are also process-oriented, and began developing applications designed to help customer service organizations. Its 2010 acquisition of Chordiant expanded the functions of its CRM solution and also its customer base.

“Our focus has been on the operational side,” says Steve Kraus, senior director of product marketing at Pegasystems. “We understand how to extend into the back office to access whatever information the customer service representative needs to respond to the customer.” Legacy systems can make it difficult to get an integrated view of the customer. “By analyzing processes, we were able to set up the OCBC system, for example, to make recommendations to the agent that streamlined the process and eliminated steps,” Kraus adds.

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