Are you part of Gen-Z or are you a Millennial? Perhaps you’re a Gen-Xer or maybe a Baby Boomer? These categorizations may seem like harmless fun to most people, but anyone in the business of marketing knows all too well that you can assume a lot about a person simply by knowing their age; even if you’ve never seen or talked to them.
In the marketing world, we use these groupings to describe how people consume digital content. In that at least, the Internet has failed to fulfill detractors’ predictions that the internet would isolate us from one another. If anything, during this Covid-19 pandemic, the web has brought us all together.
But, even with our demographic differences and varied personas, we do all share at least one thing in common online: a desire for a great experience. Whether we want to connect with our friends, be entertained, feel better about ourselves and the world around us, or just want to waste time waiting on 5 o’clock to roll around, rarely do we tolerate online mediocrity.
And that’s something we can build on.
Recently, César Marto, Partner at Deloitte, hosted a webinar detailing several applications they have helped customers build using OutSystems. You can watch the full webinar, Customer Experiences for the New Decade: Tales, Learnings, and Pitfalls on OutSystems.com.
We asked César to spend some time expanding on the “Functional Customer Experience Architecture” he outlined briefly in the webinar. Here’s what he had to say.
Building Your Customer Experience Foundation
Nearly 40 years into the recognized “digital age” we are still refining our understanding of how to use digital technology to connect with each other. That goes double for businesses wanting to connect more with customers.
“More than half of consumers say that the overall enjoyment of their experience is important in their decision to buy a product or service.”
- The Deloitte Consumer Review
All enterprises have underlying systems supporting the business. Those can include SAP, CRM, ERP, and others. Supporting all of those core business systems is an entire architecture of supporting tools, information, processes, and deliverables.
The first level of this includes what could be considered “Six Core Business Operations” every enterprise has to master for success in this digital age.
- Content - Content is the only way to reach digital audiences. Digital content can be as complex as interactive demos and augmented reality, or something as simple as a form. Regardless, it must be created and delivered in a frictionless way that makes people want to interact with you, even if all they “get” from it, is entertained.
- Customer Marketing Data - If Content is King, then customer marketing data is Content’s Big Brother. Without actionable marketing data, you have no insights into what your customers want, or what kinds of things they like. You might as well stand up in the food court at the mall with a megaphone and try to pull in prospects.
- Customer Data Repository - So now you have all this customer data, but without a good way to store it and access it, it’s not doing anyone any good. From a storage standpoint, we have data warehouses and cloud storage solutions. Both are good, and when properly implemented with good data handling processes, can provide enormous value across the enterprise, from marketing to operations.
- Marketing - How you get your content and message to your customers. Despite advances in technology, some of the oldest marketing technologies—video, email, webinars, blogs—are still some of the most effective. It’s how we present them and the information we present through them, thanks largely to the prior three steps, that makes all the difference.
- E-Commerce and Offline Sales - Depending on both the size and type of your business, you may favor one or other, or even both. Either way, your sales efforts can be driven more effectively through better and more informed digital offerings and communication.
- Service - Many businesses have realized the value of offering service as a service, either as an add-on after a sale, or by offering “service” as a product. In Deloitte’s survey, 58 percent said they prefer buying services online versus in-store. Service is a very important and profitable business model and can be more important from an “experience” standpoint as the process leading up to a purchase.
Three Ways to Reinforce Your Customer Experience
Foundational building blocks are necessary, but they are only what their name implies: parts of a larger structure. But, they aren’t sufficient on their own to build a successful customer experience. For that, you need support. Let’s look at the three support beams of our (Deloitte’s) CX Architecture.
Noted CX Consultant, Dwayne Vera said,
“Legendary customer experiences are designed.”
This simple statement is one of the most important truisms in marketing. Two decades ago when customer experience extended no further than the checkout counter, then yes, great customer experiences could just happen. It is much more difficult for great customer experiences to happen organically now because our personal interactions are fewer.
To design a great customer experience, you need to understand your customers and that can only happen through, initially, trial and error, and then later, through the intelligent gathering and analyzing of data.
How you gather that information is partly driven by your touch points. Web and mobile apps should include feedback mechanisms throughout, including both passive feedback mechanisms allowing customers to leave comments on their own, as well as prompted feedback mechanisms allowing you to collect feedback where and how you want. Other avenues of feedback include call centers, surveys, and email. If you’re just starting out, you may not have robust feedback mechanisms in place, but as you grow your customer channels, so should you expand and improve your feedback and analysis tools and processes.
When it’s time to analyze your feedback, we recommend one-plussing your human analysis with software-based analysis. As good as the human brain is, its abilities pale in comparison to computers for sorting and making connections between data points. And very important: collecting the data on the same system running your applications can save time.
API Integration Management
An API is a software layer that, in short, makes it possible to integrate one piece of software into another. Most commonly, APIs tie in third-party data and functionality into a larger piece of software. For customer experience, APIs can pull in other sources of analytics data and other product or service functionality to extend your own.
There are four main types of APIs: Open, Public, Composite, and Internal. On top of those four, are additional, web-based APIs: SOAP, REST, XML-RPC, and JSON-RPC.
Clearly, API integration isn’t something just anyone can pick up. Traditionally, the integration is performed by professional developers and though true that many vendors now offer an API for ease of integration, some level of expertise is typically required.
However, new developer-friendly tools like low-code platforms can greatly simplify API integration. They can make it simple enough that even non-professional developers (AKA Citizen Developers) can use them to create powerful software that integrates other data and functionality into their own.
Contextual Delivery and Personalization
Once you have APIs and data feedback and analysis in place, you’re better prepared to create more personalized and consistent experiences across mobile, web, and offline channels. When properly implemented, each interaction builds on the next, ultimately providing a Customer 360 view of your base.
People are all different. We have different backgrounds and cultures. There are at least four distinct “generations” of consumers at any given moment and there is no one set of experience touch points that satisfies everyone. Which means creating as many touch points as you can and letting your users and customers pick their favorites, all while providing them with a consistent, intuitive experience from Channel A (chatbot) to Channel B (your website) to Channel C (your product page).
Opening Doors to Great Customer Experiences
A caution: many organizations get so caught up in their online presence that they forget about their offline audience. Conversely, many smaller companies don’t believe they have a need for online channels, when often that’s the first place people go for information about them.
A balanced approach is best. Start simple and build from there. Your immediate needs may not include a 24x7 AI-based chatbot delivering contextually-driven information. But, with the ease and speed with which you can build these new experience channels using a low-code development platform, the risk and downside is minimal, while the potential upside both now and well into the future, could be tremendous.
Here is a short list of some traditional and popular experience channels today:
- Email (includes targeted outreach and surveys/research requests)
- Web (multiple options here: landing pages, .com sites, ads, web apps, blogs, etc.)
- Mobile app
- Social Media/Networking
- Live Chat and/or AI-assisted Chatbots
- Live phone support
- Attending or hosting events and roadshows
Low-Code Application Development Platforms—Your One-Stop Customer Experience Workshop
Deloitte works with organizations of all sizes. Some have very specific needs that are fairly easy to accomplish, while many enterprises have scoped out their modernization requirements and face a multi-year project.
When we recommend OutSystems to our customers, we do it based on a proven track record of success. We know that low-code, when properly implemented, can meet the majority of enterprise use-cases.
We back that track-record up with some additional data points:
- According to Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Low-Code Application Platforms, “By 2024, low-code application development will be responsible for more than 65% of application development activity.”
- 41% of organizations are already using a low-code application development platform, according to The State of Application Development - 2019.
- From OutSystems own survey of more than 3,300 IT professionals, the following graphs shows the difference in Digital Transformation Maturity between those using a low-code development platform and those who do not:
If customers prefer to tackle their modernization efforts using traditional methods; buying, integrating, and customizing a commercial off the shelf (COTS) solution, or if they want us to build the systems ourselves from the ground up using traditional application development; we can do that.
But we also like to offer our customers the option to build and manage their new applications or systems using low-code. Low-code provides the same enterprise-class functionality, availability, and security, but often in a much shorter time frame. And the majority of applications developed using low-code platforms, like OutSystems, do not require specialized skill sets or 5GL knowledge in order to maintain and improve them in the long term.
From a customer experience standpoint, OutSystems can significantly reduce the UX/UI burden on teams who may not have much experience designing for CX and who don’t have the time or budget to find and secure the talent to do it. OutSystems has a very strong CX offering, with a number of pre-built templates and screens that organizations can customize with very little effort. And, the platform includes widgets and components for all of today’s most popular CX experiences: biometric authentication, a customization virtual chatbot, integration with voice-assistants and IoT-based products, and more.
Partnering with OutSystems has been a win-win for both Deloitte and OutSystems, giving us both a strong competitive edge when working with enterprise customers facing legacy modernization challenges.
If you would like to learn more about the work Deloitte and OutSystems has done with clients, we invite you to view our recent webinar, hosted by César Marto, Partner at Deloitte.
Additionally, If you would like to learn more about the ideas discussed in this blog, check out these great articles and resources:
- How to Build and Use APIs with Low-Code
- Get a copy of the Gartner “Critical Capabilities for Enterprise Low-Code Application Platforms (LCAP)” report. It is a supplement to the full Gartner Magic Quadrant for Low-Code Application Platforms, which details some of the analyst firms’ CX requirements for low-code platforms.
- Customer Stories - OutSystems for Digital Experiences