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Power Couple: Brands and Service Providers Must Work Together For Integrated Customer Experience Management

Introducing a new DCG Insight Paper, “The Need for Integrated Customer Experience Management

A funny thing happened on the way to the customer experience revolution. For nearly a decade, brands, vendors, and service providers alike have sworn allegiance to the goal of improving customer experiences in order to attract and retain increasingly empowered and fickle consumers. And yet, in the past 18 months, three major international surveys (conducted by Capgemini, Accenture, and Forrester) have found that consumers are growing less satisfied with the experiences they are offered.

Despite all of the effort and expense, customer experience management (CEM) is stuck in neutral, if not actually going backwards.

The Limitations of First Generation CEM

We believe this situation exposes two major limitations of first-generation customer CEM. First, customer experiences are conceived of as isolated, disconnected environments (the site, the app, the social campaign, the store, etc.) that are created (by equally isolated, disconnected teams) and offered for consumption, with little regard for how (or if) they fit together.

Second, addressing consumers’ rapidly changing expectations for outstanding experiences ought to mean that companies form deeper and more strategic relationships with their service provider partners (agencies, consultancies, system integrators, etc.)

Instead, the opposite is occurring: Today, brands and service providers bicker more fiercely than Kanye and Kim. Agency reviews are at an all-time high. Onerous, procurement-lead selections are on the rise. Brands treat (and hire partners for) customer experience initiatives like old-fashioned build-to-spec IT projects.

For their part, the brands charge that service providers are clinging to outmoded business and billing models and may lack the requisite digital skills. External partnerships, they argue, cause friction and delay.

Both parties have valid points. But, as usual in such acrimonious relationships, they’re both overlooking the crucial question: What about the kids? While brands and service providers squabble, customer experience suffers.

The Need for Integrated CEM

Finally making progress with CEM and beginning to keep up with consumers’ rapidly evolving expectations requires that clients and service providers alike understand experience from the customer’s perspective, namely as a totality – an integrated system of interrelated and interdependent elements that constitute the customer’s overall perception of the company or brand.

As one astute digital agency exec told us, effective CEM demands “system-level integration — that is, system design of an end-to-end value chain that includes not only the software components, but also the processes, people, skills, and services that are needed to support it.”

My latest DCG Insight Paper explores and explains this need for integrated CEM. Extending ex-Acer CEO Stan Shih’s famous “smiling curve,” I show that, in contrast to the fragmented first generation approach, CEM from the customer’s perspective necessitates fundamentally rethinking the way in which customer experiences are designed, created, delivered, supported – and that this in turn entails a new kind of partnership between service providers and their clients.

I look forward to your comments, questions, or objections.




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