Drive Online Engagement with Intuitive Portals and Websites
By Kellsey Ruppel on Apr 09, 2012
As more and more business is being conducted via online channels, engaging users and making them more productive and efficient though these online channels is becoming critical. These users could be customers, partners or employees and while the respective channels through which they interact might be different, these users do increasingly interact with your business through the Web, or mobile devices or now through various social mediums. Businesses need a user engagement strategy and solution that allows them to deliver targeted and personalized content and applications to users through the various online mediums and touch points.
The customer experience today is made up of an ongoing set of interactions with organizations across many channels, online and offline. The Direct channel (including sales reps, email and mail) is an important point of contact, as is the Contact Center. Contact Centers rely on the phone as a means of interacting with customers, and also more now than ever, the Web as well. However, the online organization is often managed separately from the Contact Center organization within a business. In-store is an important channel for retailers, offering Point-of-Service for human interactions, and Kiosks which enable self-service. Kiosks are a Web-enabled touch point but in-store kiosks are often managed by the head of retail operations, rather than the online organization. And of course, the online channel, including customer interactions with an organization via digital means -- on the website, mobile websites, and social networking sites, has risen to paramount importance in recent years in the customer experience. Historically all of these channels have been managed separately.
The result of all of this fragmentation is that the customer touch points with an organization are siloed. Their interactions online are not known and respected in their dealings in-store. Their calls to the contact center are not taken as input into what the website offers them when they arrive. Think of how many times you’ve fallen victim to this. Your experience with the company call center is different than the experience in-store. Your experience with the company website on your desktop computer is different than your experience on your iPad. I think you get the point.
But the customer isn’t the only one we need to look at here, as employees and the IT organization have challenges as well when it comes to online engagement. There are many common tools and technologies that organizations have been using to try and engage users, whether it’s customers, employees or partners. Some have adopted different blog and wiki technologies (some hosted, some open source, sometimes embedded in platforms), to things like tagging, file sharing and content management, or composite applications for self-service applications and activity streams.
Basically, there are so many different tools & technologies that each address different aspects of user engagement.
Now, one of the challenges with this, is that if we look at each individual tool, typically just implementing for example a file sharing and basic collaboration solution, may meet the needs of the business user for one aspect of user engagement, but it may not be the best solution to engage with customers and partners, or it may not fit with IT standards such as integrating with their single sign on tools or their corporate website. Often, the scenario is that businesses are having to acquire multiple pieces and parts as well as build custom applications to meet their needs. Leaving customers and partners with a more fragmented way of interacting with the company.
Every organization has some sort of enterprise balancing act between the needs of the business user and the needs and restrictions enforced by enterprise IT groups. As we’ve been discussing, we all know that the expectations for online engagement have changed since the days of the static, one-size fits all website. With these changes have come some very difficult organizational challenges as well.
Today, as a business user, you want to engage with your customers, and your customers expect you to know who they are. They expect you to recall the details they’ve provided to you on your website, to your CSRs and to your sales people. They expect you to remember their purchases, their preferences and their problems. And they expect you to know who they are, equally well, across channels, including your web presence.
This creates a host of challenges for today’s business users. Delivering targeted, relevant content online is now essential for converting prospects into customers and for engendering long term loyalty. Business users need the ability to leverage customer data from different sources to fuel their segmentation and targeting strategies and to easily set-up, manage and optimize online campaigns. Also critical, they need the ability to accomplish these things on-the-fly, at the speed of the marketplace, while making iterative improvements.
These changing expectations put a host of demands on the IT organization as well. The web presence must be able to scale to support the delivery of personalized and targeted content to thousands of site visitors without sacrificing performance. And integration between systems becomes more important as well, as organizations strive to obtain one view of the customer culled from WCM data, CRM data and more.
So then, how do you solve these challenges and meet the growing demands of your users?
You need a solution that:
- Unifies every customer interaction across all channels
- Personalizes the products and content that interest the customer and to the device
- Delivers targeted promotions to the right customer
- Engages and improve employee productivity
- Provides self-service access to applications
- Includes embedded in-context social