Business Management

Grant O'Connor (Africa): Customer Experience Management - Make or Break for Business

It has been proven time and time again that a poorly designed or non-intuitive website or business portal is a sure-fire way to not only frustrate customers, but also to lose out on business.

What’s really interesting is that CIOs across the globe are beginning to place increased focus on ensuring that their organizations have streamlined and personalized digital customer integration channels in place to facilitate goodwill among their consumer base, drive e-commerce and effectively address customer complaints.

The truth is that customer experience management has, after being regarded as a business luxury for many years, become a top priority for many businesses. In an IDG Research Services poll which was commissioned by Adobe, 25% of CIOs and IT leaders surveyed indicated that customer experience management was their primary focus while 70% indicated that investments in consumer interaction technology will grow in the next 12 months.

As this environment becomes more complex and begins to integrate new technologies, it will become increasingly difficult for organizations to focus on the core requirements behind customer experience management. For this reason, it is vital that IT leaders have a clear understanding of what it takes to maintain a consistent and reliable experience across a multitude of platforms.

Surprisingly, only 15% of respondents indicated that they felt their companies were doing “very well” in ensuring a top class customer experience management platform. This suggests that, although online customer experience is a top priority, many organizations lack confidence in their customer integration strategies.

The answer is a consumer experience management platform which provides consistent support while using innovative and emerging technologies such as rich Internet applications, multimedia collaboration tools and information management technologies to interact with the consumer.

This could mean strong investment in the mobile space. The growing popularity of the smartphone and tablet markets worldwide is well documented – this is a good example of opportunity for applications which provide superior customer experience management.

It is important that IT leaders understand that a holistic approach to technology needs to be taken when developing a consumer experience strategy. This includes incorporating new technologies such as the Android, BlackBerry and Apple application environments while giving continued attention to more established methods of customer liaison management such as email and the web.

The right strategic and tactical balance is of enormous importance. Typically, the most successful organizations in this environment focus on the following areas:

Providing relevant and up-to-date content

The strategy of embracing new technologies and methods of delivery to consumers should be met with the dedication to provide them with continually updated content which is relevant and insightful.

Striving for a high level of responsiveness with customers
One of the pillars of customer experience management is a high level of responsiveness. Organizations should ensure that they have a strong consumer relations framework in place before rolling out a customer experience management strategy.

Maintaining consistent communication throughout the customer experience
It is of vital importance to any customer experience management platform that the consumer feels as though the organization is always making a concerted effort to interact.

Delivering a compelling and engaging user interface
User interfaces are the first port of call for any consumer wishing to interact with the company or to make a complaint. As a result, these should be well laid out and easy to navigate.

Offering breadth of functionality
A breadth of functionality relating to consumer needs should be integrated into the customer experience platform. If an organization’s target market is particularly strong on mobile then this need should be reflected in the overall strategy.

Building feedback mechanisms into the entire cus¬tomer interaction process
Part of the customer experience process is giving the consumer the ability to give feedback to liaise with the organization. It is vital that both IT and management ensure that this is provided for.

Providing personalized interaction and content
Naturally, one of the most important parts of customer experience management is providing personal interaction. This should form part of the foundation of the overall strategy.

Each of these points form the basis for what is an overarching, innovative and engaging customer experience management. It is important for IT leaders to be mindful of the fact that there are applications available which focus on integrating these factors – Adobe’s Digital Enterprise Platform is particularly adept at this and was designed to rapidly deploy platforms using custom applications.

The benefit of a strategic consumer engagement portal is obvious for any customer facing organization. The next step is driving change within the business environment towards developing a more strategic approach to this.

By Grant O'Connor, Regional Manager for Adobe Systems Sub Saharan Africa


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