We are in the midst of a customer experience (CX) revolution. A new type of consumer is emerging. With the proliferation of online and social media, the control of information has shifted from businesses to consumers. Consumers know more about products, brands, markets and industries than ever before—sometimes even more than the companies they buy from. This means businesses have to work harder than ever to attract and hold onto customers.
Customer relationships depend on solid customer experience strategies. And, as many suppliers are coming to understand, an effective CX strategy increasingly depends on a reliable, comprehensive, integrated enterprise platform to support it.
As a VAR, you should be aware of this shift in the status quo. Your customers increasingly are going to look for solutions and technologies to beef up their CX strategies. They’re recognizing a need for systems to help them understand their customers at every phase of the relationship.
Good CX is all about relationships. Customers want personal and engaging experiences that develop into long-term connections. Given the right mix of interactions, these connections can grow into lifelong allegiances. But with the wrong mix, they can lead to painful separations.
So, what’s the right mix?
Positive customer experiences feature:
- Connection and engagement. Consumers respond overwhelmingly to brands that are accessible and easy to connect with.
- Personalized offers. Brands that gather—and act on—information about customers tend to earn the highest CX ratings.
- Trust. Consumers want to trust brands the same way they trust their peers.
- Ease-of-use. Consumers appreciate interactions that are efficient, effective and accurate.
- Reward. Customers love to be recognized and rewarded for their loyalty to a company.
Creating an exceptional customer experience means providing these and other values through the entire customer experience lifecycle. A robust IT platform can make it much easier to do this. To see how, let’s break it down.
- NEED: Purchases of goods and/or services are typically driven by need. At this stage of the customer experience lifecycle, a business identifies—and possibly even creates or reinforces—a consumer’s need for a product or service through an effective marketing campaign. A consumer’s first impressions of a brand have a huge impact on a consumer’s decision to move forward or move away from making their purchase. Enterprise platforms that support business objectives in this phase are marketing automation platforms integrated with CRM and social relationship management solutions.
- RESEARCH: The next stage is when consumers begin their search for a product, service or solution that meets their needs. In today’s digital world, consumers are looking for information sources they can trust. Businesses need robust search, content management, marketing and social media platforms. These will guide consumers through the search for a product and/or service that can meet their needs. The right solution must be content-rich, well-organized, user-friendly, easy to update and able to support personalized customer experiences.
- SELECT: To influence the customer’s decision, it is helpful to have a system to create and manage social and interactive experiences online. A good web experience management platform will do this across multiple channels to boost sales and loyalty.
- PURCHASE: Once a business has earned customers' trust and they are ready to buy, it’s important to have platforms to facilitate the process. The platform must be fast, efficient, secure, reliable and consistent with the information the customer has seen in earlier stages. A familiar example of this is a commerce system that helps the customer find and purchase the right product and get it in the shopping cart. The platform should be able to capture the transaction without unnecessary effort on the customer’s part.
- RECEIVE. Once the customer has made the purchase, the company has to get its product out of the warehouse and into the customer’s hands. To do this, it needs an inventory system and a fulfillment platform that communicate with the commerce platform and the supply chain.
- USE. As the customer uses the product, it is critical for the business to build and maintain a lasting relationship. A data-gathering platform can help the business understand how customers are using its products and how satisfied they are with the experience. This can drive the business’ outreach and marketing efforts for future engagements.
- MAINTAIN. Customers expect to receive service and support through the life of the product. Knowing a customer’s purchase and support history can help businesses better resolve issues and identify sales opportunities. A master data-management (MDM) system will provide real-time access to the data the business needs. Likewise, if a product breaks down or doesn’t meet a customer’s expectations, it is key to have a solution in place that supports a high level of customer service.
- RECOMMEND AND RE-ENGAGE. Finally, if a consumer loves what the business has provided, the business now has a great opportunity to re-engage by identifying other needs to fulfill. This starts the marketing process over again. With the data-driven insights the business has gained in earlier phases, it can shift and adapt its strategies to create stronger experiences. And it can harness the influence of its existing customers to promote its brand in their social communities.
Now, a decent IT-driven CX strategy would incorporate applications, platforms and solutions to manage each of these lifecycle phases.
An exceptional CX strategy would use a platform that’s fully integrated, from marketing and sales to maintenance and re-engagement. On that platform, every application would share data, communicate with other nodes and ensure consistency and accuracy across each phase of the lifecycle. It would also exist in the cloud so that each interaction the customer has with the company is connected.
Right now, that full-spectrum integrated solution doesn’t exist. Oracle’s vision is to create it. To see what we’re up to and how VARs can get involved, visit oracle.com/cx.