To Drive Digital Transformation, Marketers Must Have a Customer Engagement Hub


customer engagement managementAs a marketer, do you have single point of operational control over all systems of engagement? Chances are your marketing stack has evolved piecemeal – an email service provider here, a tag management platform there – and each new solution added to the stack comes with its own “brain” that governs actions and data usage only within that channel. In this traditional, channel-focused approach, none of these solutions communicate seamlessly with each other, which creates data silos, engagement latency, and fragments customer engagement efforts across multiple point solutions.

The human body has one brain, which serves as the central point of control for the rest of the body. Now imagine if each of your arms and legs had their own brain, separate and distinct from the one inside your head, which governed only the functions of that leg or that arm and didn’t communicate with your other brains. What do you think the chances are that you would be able to even walk in a straight line, not to mention something complicated like play basketball? By having a disjointed set of marketing “brains” spread across systems of engagement, most enterprises have created this type of clumsiness and friction in engaging with their customers.

Gartner predicts that by 2020, silos of customer engagement will be one of the top causes of customer dissatisfaction for enterprises across all industries. That’s not a shocker, because the always-on, readily addressable customer has high expectations that most brands are unable to deliver due in large part to the many “brains” incorporated in their channel-focused approach.

Today there is an alarming gap between what the always-on customer expects compared to the actual brand experience they receive. In a Customer Experience Impact Survey, 86 percent said they would willingly pay more money for a better experience yet only 1 percent of customers felt brands met their expectations. Brands have largely failed to close this engagement gap over the years, in large part because of their investments in siloed channels and technologies. This gap is exacerbated by the need to seamlessly orchestrate engagement across traditional and digital channels. This is quite a predicament for enterprises, as having the ability to automate and optimize engagement is what will prepare their brands for the digital transformation sweeping industry today.

Solve the Customer Engagement Management Gap, Increase Long-Term Value

Customers today want a frictionless, end-to-end experience across channels, and the channel-focused approach can’t execute on this goal – especially not across all the channels a customer might interact through. This is becoming an acute problem now that customers desire real-time engagement that may span devices and applications, including apps tuned to mobile phones, tablets, IoT devices, and/or social media channels. For example, a customer might have two entirely different experiences with your brand depending on the channel, and if you’re not able to present your brand promise the same way no matter the channel, there is a risk of losing the customer. If you’re able to better engage with your customers over the long term, however, that customers stick around and the relationship increases in value.

Two Approaches to Closing the Customer Engagement Gap

There are two fundamental approaches in the market attempting to close the gap between customer experience and expectations. The first is through implementing a walled garden marketing suite of integrated solutions, which requires a rip-and-replace implementation process that eliminates your existing stack and deploys the marketing suite in its place. For most companies, re-platforming their marketing stack is a non-starter – it takes too much time, costs too much money and the risk is too high to be feasible. You’d have to, for example, take all your email lists into a new solution, re-tag your entire website, and completely switch to a brand new content management system. That’s neither feasible nor, from a strategy perspective, effective to even think about.

The second is to take an open garden approach. Open gardens provide a single point of control over data and operations, seamlessly integrating complex technology in ways that increase relevance and reduce friction for customer engagement. Implementing a hub means you don’t need to replace any of the point solutions that you currently employ. Instead, what you’re doing is tying them to a central back-end system that provides visibility into and control over multiple solutions from a single point of control. You’re in essence replacing the individual “brains” of the point solutions with a single brain that can orchestrate customer engagement across the enterprise and deliver a consistent brand promise no matter the touchpoint. You also have the option to phase this in over time, providing a migration path to turn off the distributed “brains” one-by-one.

Hubs can be deployed much faster than all-in-one suites because there isn’t a need to replace existing infrastructure. And once you have a hub deployed, you’re able to view customer journeys and orchestrate interactions from one place no matter the engagement channel. You can also seamlessly plug in new devices and channels into hub as they emerge, which helps future-proof your technology investments.

In the last ten years, the number of engagement channels has exploded. If you’re using a customer engagement hub you’re ensuring that you can not only utilize channels out there today, but will be able to respond quickly to your customers’ engagement needs in the future. After all, the end game in all of this is to keep your customers happy and your company thriving, and marketers who can keep up with their customers will be the real winners.

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