• United States



by Judith Hurwitz

Creating a Dynamic and Responsive Customer Experience

Mar 22, 20044 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

What does it mean to create a dynamically responsive customer environment? As organizations have become smarter about leveraging the technology infrastructure across partners, suppliers, and customers, the stakes are higher than ever for competitive differentiation. It is simply not enough anymore to automate the transaction flow among participants. Only a few years ago, the idea of automating the supply chain and implementing a customer relationship management (CRM) system was sufficient to make an organizations assume that they had achieved competitive differentiation. In the end, the only way organizations are going to be able to differentiate themselves is through excellent customer experience management.

In this online era, companies often mistake having a customer facing website combined with an automated supply chain with creating a great customer experience. Many organizations have fooled themselves into thinking that as long as customer issues are logged into a system and there is a web site available to let customers look up answers, all the bases are covered. More advanced companies have installed automated replenishment systems with their suppliers; others have arranged to analyze the reliability of suppliers. Don’t get me wrong! All of this is good news for companies that are getting smarter about their responsibility to their customers. But it simply is not enough. Organizations need to take a much more holistic view on how they create an environment that both satisfies the immediate needs of customers for information while enhancing the buying experience overall. So, what will separate the dynamically responsive organizations from those that merely react to customer complaints and supplier problems? In my view, the difference is the focus. The focus in the future is going to become the overall customer experience. If organizations learn how to effective manage and direct the way they dynamically manage the customer experience, they can win in the market. What does this mean? There are five key indicators that determine if a company is focused on customer experience management:

  1. Are all of your channels focused on directing and enabling customers to understand your strategy and the value of your offerings, and to take the action that you want?
  2. How is corporate wide navigation established for the customer? Is it clear to the customer/ supplier/ partner how to get the right information at the right time to make the right decision? Is the information flow across all of your channels based on your internal processes or how your customers work? Too often companies assume that their internal processes are obvious to a broad spectrum of customers.
  3. Does your customer engagement model assume that everyone is the same? Is your technology strategy designed to recognize who the buyer is and what that buyer is really looking for? For example, if you know a customer who visits the web site is a huge buyer of products across the company, shouldn’t that customer be directed too a specialized area of the web site designed to detect its specific needs and create a streamlined experience?
  4. Has your company developed a strategy that leverages the data you know about a customer or type of customer based on what is being asked? For example, a customer who is searching for a part for a discontinued product may be an ideal candidate for an upsell opportunity. Is your organization prepared to react in real time to an opportunity?
  5. Have you designed a corporate goal to make the customer experience for anyone doing business with you a pleasant, fulfilling experience – whether on the web, in person, or on the phone? Can you say that the customer experience is consistent, no matter how the customer interacts with your products and services?

Why is total customer experience suddenly becoming important? There is great technology on the market for customer analytics, search, personalization, business process management and monitoring. There are great tools to create a web environment that ties together a multitude of organizations ranging from part suppliers to strategic partners. Components architectures and multimedia technologies are making corporations a lot more fluid and able reach out beyond their corporate walls. It is simply too easy to get caught up in the technology and forget about the fundamentals of good customer experience management.

Therefore, I believe that a company’s success or failure in the future will be predicated on a company’s ability to leverage these technologies in combination with common sense and good business practices to keep customers satisfied. Companies that will succeed are those that go beyond their Web environments and learn to anticipate customer needs and respond dynamically.