Integration: Achilles’ Heel for Customer Experience

Customer ExperienceHow often do you use social media to engage with a brand to express your concerns or appreciation? And how often does that company respond with something meaningful to you?

Being a regular customer at WholeFoods, I have always enjoyed their customer service. A recent example caught my eye. With almost 5 million followers, the @WholeFoods Twitter handle cannot be ignored. With so many followers, you would think they would be pushing their brand messages more. However, the way they engage with their customers is awe-inspiring.

The Paradox:

Customer experience is at heart of every business. In order to achieve a holistic view of your customer, you must bring order to the chaos across all the fragmented data sources out there: CRM data, customer support data, customers’ behavior on the website, social media, etc.

Integrating all that data is critical to improve customer engagement, reduce churn, create ‘stickier’ brand experiences and build extraordinary customer relationships. You should be personalizing your marketing promotions, products and services, as that will help to shorten sales cycles and drive revenue growth.

Businesses get very excited about a marketing platform that promises to use AI to respond to website behavior, and to comb data lakes for profitable market segments. But strangely, we take a significant catalyst for customer experience for granted. The core challenge of making sure that all that data flows into those data lakes or data warehouses in the first place.

Know your customer:

A business-critical example of data fragmentation is the many places in which any company’s customer data resides. If I purchase — or even begin to research — a new software solution, I end up in their CRM system. Their marketing automation system will note which content I’ve downloaded, and the email address I provided. If I run a free trial, that’s logged. If I buy the software, I’m in their financial system. There’s data on how I consume the software and customer support records of any service inquiries I make. Did I follow the company on Facebook? Did I tweet that I love the product, or that it’s frustrating the heck out of me right now? The company should be paying attention. That’s valuable information about me, but most businesses can’t integrate it into a single holistic view to know whether, for instance, I’m ripe for a particular cross-sell offer, or in need of more education based on my usage or visits to the tutorial section of the website. Who am I, and how have other people who fit my criteria behaved? Given a complete picture of my interactions, what will I do next?

The first step in building that single, trusted holistic view of your customers and their interactions starts with the underlying data. While the right data integration solution will build that trusted foundation for you, also keep an eye on the big picture for various other data management solutions to help you achieve the aspirational state for your CX projects like data cataloging, mastering data, data quality and governance.

How can a Hybrid Integration Platform help with CX:

In a recent Gartner report, “How to Architect a Multicloud-Capable Hybrid Integration Platform” discussing the concept and usefulness of the hybrid integration platform, which is the natural next step in the evolution of iPaaS – for businesses as they plan for an architecture addressing customer experience and digital transformation.

customer experienceThere is hardly a business today that doesn’t see a prime challenge as knowing, and serving, its customers better. However, Gartner’s report points to an urgency beyond immediate competitive pressure. We’re at an inflection point. Gartner points out that more and more businesses are using multiple cloud solutions, and just beginning to address the integration challenges that result. IT leaders are making decisions right now that may shape their infrastructure for years to come. Getting it right today can save a lot of pain and re-architecture later on. Using a hybrid integration platform, you can take your integration to the next level by connecting all your data sources, across cloud and on-premises, address simple to complex integration use cases and serve all types of users.

Download the report to learn how you can build the next-gen hybrid integration platform to boost your CX strategies.

Connectivity in a multi-cloud and hybrid world

I’d say that flexibility is the most essential feature of a hybrid integration platform. Just like you have options to choose from in a local grocery store — picking on Wholefoods again, wouldn’t you like the same experience from your cloud vendor? Don’t get locked into any single vendor — as if that’s even a viable option in our multi-cloud world. If you need to replace one specific solution with another, it should not require you to tear out half your infrastructure to keep everything moving. 

Empower your business users with self-service

Another critical aspect of a hybrid integration platform is the ability to empower all types of users — ranging from IT to business users, and more advanced digital integrators (machines) e.g. AI based chatbots that are becoming an integral part of all business applications today.

Great customer experience starts with a solid integration framework

Our customers are talking to us in myriad ways, every day. Each purchase, download, web visit, like or tweet, and service contract is a message about who the customer is, and what he or she wants from us. Our challenge is figuring out how to harness all the data for relevant and timely insights across a multicloud and hybrid world. Work with your business users in identifying how the next generation of integration framework can help achieve successful business outcomes.

Take a look at the insightful Gartner report, with improving your customer experience objectives in mind.