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Putting the Poetry ahead of the Plumbing: Working from your customer experience in, rather than your technology stack out.

When it comes to customer service platforms, it’s shocking to discover how many companies start by turning to their IT or IS teams with a request to cut cost out or add more functionality or applications and where do they turn?  Straight to the technology stack. After all, that’s the foundation of your customer service platform, right? You need to scope and integrate the right databases, tools, frameworks, languages and functions - then wrap it all up in a solutions architecture that will make the development process smooth and efficient and deliver the functionality requested. You also need to consider performance, scalability, security, and compatibility of your tech stack as well.

In short, you need to make sure you configure the right plumbing for the platform.

But what if you are missing something crucial? What if you are neglecting the most important aspect of your implementation: the customer experience? What if you are putting the plumbing of the platform ahead of the poetry of people who will need to use it?

Customer experience (CX) design is the process of designing optimal customer experiences at each point in the customer journey, from the first touchpoint to conversion and beyond.  It involves understanding your customers’ needs, wants, emotions, motivations, and behaviors, and then creating solutions that meet or exceed their expectations. It also involves measuring and improving the quality of your customer interactions across all channels and touch points - which isn't just the jargon everybody seems to be speaking these days - it's also the kind of "soft stuff" that CFO's really don't wanna hear - so they default to inside out thinking.

Why is CX design so important? Because it can make or break your product.   According to a recent report by Forrester Research, CX leaders grow revenue faster than CX laggards. CX leaders also have higher customer loyalty, retention, satisfaction, and brand advocacy. CX is not just a nice-to-have feature; it’s actually a competitive advantage and a strategic imperative (More on how to actually calculate CX RoE in my next post!).

So how do you design a great customer experience from the outside in, instead of the inside out?  You don’t start with your technology stack; you start with the customer and breakdown what will deliver the most value and motivation to keep them interacting with you.

Start with some CX Discovery research

You don’t need to boil the ocean or spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in Discovery with a GSI to get there.  You can start by having a smaller advisory partner or your CX team conduct the kind of user research to really understand your top 2 or 3 customer segments, what they need and want from you (2 different things), and how you can meet them where they are and then super serve them when they want to engage with you. We typically use agile methods such as 1x1 interviews, quick turnaround omnibus web surveys and other polling analytics to gather quick insights about segmented customer journeys covering a wide range of experiences from enrollment and onboarding to service grading, nurturing and conversion to new products and services.

By investing a reasonable initial budget in some agile CX Discovery research, you’ll end up creating products that services that are not only technically sound but also emotionally appealing – and that will benefit both your brand and add to your customer lifetime value.

People before Platform

You may, in fact, have determined that adding applications like Salesforce Service Cloud or Marketing Cloud are best suited for your Tech stack to deliver the kind of functionality and customer experiences you want – but they’re rarely ready to simply implement and turn on right out of the box – they often require solutions engineers and CX SMEs who understand how people behave across everything from call centers to customer-care.  Only then can you begin to custom-configure your Cloud instance for the unique features of your business, your industry and your offerings.

Service Cloud is actually great at enabling you to provide faster, more personalized customer service across multiple CX channels. It allows you to manage cases, track customer interactions, automate workflows, collaborate with agents, and integrate with other systems. It's when you start from the outside in, rather than the tech out, that the outcome you deliver will be the kind of consistent and seamless service experiences that will increase both your customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Marketing Cloud is a great tool for allowing you to segment audiences, design content, execute campaigns, measure results, and deliver more relevant and engaging marketing experiences that drive customer acquisition and retention – but again, it begins from the outside in - knowing how customer segments behave and the points in their journey when they’re open to new offers or incentives to act.

Both Service Cloud and Marketing Cloud are essential components of a customer centric platform and tech stack because they enable you to plan, design, implement, optimize and measure your CX solutions effectively. They also allow you to leverage data from other sources such as Sales Cloud or Analytics Cloud to enrich your customer profiles and personalize your interactions.

CX from the outside in

Here are just a few examples of how you can approach Service Cloud and Marketing Cloud from the customer in to design better experiences and better outcomes:

  • Onboarding: When a new customer signs up for your product or service, Marketing Cloud makes it simple to send them a welcome email with useful information and tips on how to get started – then continue to nurture and grow the relationship. Then, you can also use Service Cloud to provide them with a dedicated support agent who can answer their questions and guide them through their setup process.

  • Feedback: Once a customer completes a purchase, a service request, or a milestone, Marketing Cloud can activate a survey or a review request to collect and monitor their feedback. Then can also use Service Cloud to follow up with them and thank them for their input. You then use that feedback data to improve your product or service and tailor your future communications.

  • Retention: When a customer is at risk of churning, their Marketing Cloud journey should always include sending them a cadence of one of several retention emails with a special offer, a testimonial, or a reminder of the value they can get from your product or service. Service Cloud can also reach out to them and offer them assistance or incentives to stay with you before they churn.

  • Advocacy: There’s nothing like receiving positive feedback when a customer is happy with your product or service. Marketing Cloud makes it easy to know the precise moment when sending a referral email with a reward for inviting their friends or colleagues to join you is appropriate. Then, you can also use Service Cloud to recognize and appreciate them for their loyalty and advocacy every time they engage.

These are just a few quick examples of how starting from the customer in - rather than the tech stack out -  helps dive the best outcomes. In fact, by combining Service Cloud and Marketing Cloud you’ll be linking customer service with marketing to design great customer and service experiences from the outside in and keep the poetry and people out in front of the plumbing and the tech platform.  By working from the outside in, rather than from the technology out, you’re on the right way forward to creating experiences that will surprise and delight – while building the right platform to keep customers coming back, again and again.

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