Creating, controlling and providing excellent customer experience is a major factor in most companies’ digital business plans today. By striving to provide a pleasant and easy-to-navigate online customer journey, companies can improve their chances that target audiences will be happy with their purchasing process and become return customers.
However, businesses may be too focused on the very specific ideal path that they have crafted for an audience and unaware of the greater customer experience ecosystem that encompasses them. As discussed by Forrester, this ecosystem includes not only the connected touchpoints that a company has created, but the many different people who work within it, as well as other websites, applications and interactions that a potential customer has experienced in relation to your company’s CX, as well as the back-end systems that businesses use to manage their customer-facing touchpoints.
By better understanding the value of a customer experience ecosystem, companies can be prepared to implement successful CX strategies and avoid major ecosystem disruptions that lose customers. The result is consistent, successful long-term CX plans.
Defining a Customer Experience Ecosystem
Forrester defines a customer experience ecosystem as “the web of relations among all aspects of a company - including its customers, employees, partners and operating environment - that determine the quality of the customer experience.” These various elements impact CX in the following ways:
- Customers - As discussed by Customer Think, customers should be ranked as the highest priority regarding needs within the CX environment due to being the source of funding that propels the entire ecosystem through their purchases. The expectations of customers should influence the way an ecosystem operates, rather than a company attempting to force customers to adapt to their ecosystem. For example, a business that completely overhauls their website to suit their own preferences rather than the preferences and expectations of customers. In doing so, customers can become frustrated and leave for competitors who are more willing to listen to and shape their CX around the needs they have expressed.
- Employees - While customers are the funding that propels CX, employees are the people that respond to customer demands. When evaluating the ecosystem, consider how well-educated employees are regarding the tools and information at their disposal and how they use these elements to better serve your target audience. By supporting your workforce in serving customer needs and educating them regarding the many aspects of your company’s unique customer experience ecosystem, they can be prepared for a wide array of customer journeys.
- Partners - In the CX ecosystem, partners can play a crucial role as they often extend the ecosystem further than the touchpoints created by a business in order to reach more potential customers. While this can broaden your target market, it also means that the audience’s perception of your company is influenced by how it is presented by others. Closer partner relationships, well-crafted marketing efforts and systems that integrate with partner data and experiences can help prevent poor communication and negative impressions from influencing the ecosystem.
- Operating Environment - The software environment in which your users, including customers, employees and partners, run their applications will invariably impact the CX ecosystem, as this influences not only how your systems run, but how different tools and data interact with one another. Should incompatible technology be operating within the same ecosystem, it may result in inaccessible data and difficult transitions within the customer journey
Whether these elements are deliberately connected by companies or have simply been brought together due to the preferences of customers, they form an ecosystem that encompasses a business’ online presence.
Creating a Seamless CX Ecosystem
After determining the many elements that make up a customer experience ecosystem, a business will need to understand how this uniquely applies to their own online presence and what can be done to make the most of it. Through accurate analytics, companies can be made better aware of how their audiences are moving through customer journeys and what touchpoints, both those created by the company and those from third parties, are affecting audience decisions.
Whether potential customers are coming from social media platforms, speaking with representatives over the phone, visiting physical locations in person or coming from targeted advertisements, a well-designed customer experience will be ready to address the unique journeys that come from each of these points of origin and more. This can be done through proper integration with social media, targeted advertisement that also changes web page layouts to suit individual needs and effective back-end system integration that applies customer data in meaningful, targeted methods to customer experience.
The easier that potential customers can move between the elements that make up an ecosystem, the more likely they are to not abandon their journey for another business.