Managing the User Experience Holistically

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As everyone scrambles to define a Customer Experience Management service, it’s important to understand that one-off solutions won’t work. Companies still have to consider backend business functions to get an overall perspective of the customer experience.

Everyone from large OEMs to niche startups are announcing new services for Customer Experience Management (CEM). The market is flooded with new platforms and tools that claim to be “the ultimate solution” to the best user experience. From the point of view of someone who has seen this evolve from a coffee table debate over the past few years to something that is capturing everyone’s active imagination, it’s a fascinating development. It also warrants a word of caution:  To succeed, companies need to define what, exactly, real need is, and they need to establish the right framework to achieve that.

It is no longer sufficient to just acquire or even retain a customer—the bigger challenge is to measure up to an ever-growing list of expectations. The customer today recognizes the freedom of choosing their services and their providers, and they are just beginning to understand the power they hold in asking for more. This is just the beginning and the demands will just explode over the next few years.

In my last blog post, I wrote about the how business process and other backend functions are the key to successful customer experiences. It’s also important to understand that there is no single solution that will fit every need.  As multiple and diverse applications get promoted under the CEM umbrella—from simple network or application probes, to advanced profiling applications that monitor each and every user action and behavior—we still need to be cognizant that there are a lot of other tools used for resource management, service usage, coverage, planning and other back-end business functions that are equally relevant and critical to get an overall perspective of customer experience. The only way to establish a foothold in the rapidly growing CEM market is to look at the environment holistically. One-off initiatives will not yield results.

That’s because there is a need to measure and improve service performance, while also optimizing the service delivery. The biggest challenge in realizing this is that data control and management is today distributed across different functions (which often operate as functional silos that are at odds with each other). The change driver is to move away from the current model of discrete problems or short-term reactive gap-fulfillment, which is sub-optimal, introduces process overheads, creates ad-hoc solutions, and leads to under-utilized resources.

Better is to establish a central service that integrates network and operational touch points and focuses on developing a feedback framework into the optimization process. This is not a one-time task, but a continual process that looks at the end-to-end business goals to deliver efficiency and maximize the experience.
The key elements of this over-arching service include: ensuring a seamless integration of multiple touch-points; focusing on consolidation and rationalization of tools and processes; and establishing an SLA-driven operational framework that can be run as a continual pro-active process—a framework that has to be built over three fundamentals: quantifiable measures, holistic e2e environment focus, and integrated validation and benefit analysis.

In my opinion, companies looking to establish CEM services need to reset their priorities and shift their focus away from buying one-off tools and toward defining this framework, essentially establishing Experience-Management-as-a-Service. This will provide the infrastructure and the processes needed to leverage the new tools, applications, engines, and services as they get introduced. Without this, the true impact of any tool will be limited and result in disappointment.

With customer experience management promising so much—from increased utilization and reduced costs, to improved QoS and increased revenue—it is a matter of time before the key service provider will bring in the right changes to drive it as an integral entity of their processes and operations. And that’s what we should all be looking forward to! It’s when we will see real innovation happening in the application of customer data into customer preferences and priorities.

 

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