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Multichannel Drupal, Mobile First & Customer Experience Management Change Everything

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Multichannel Drupal, Mobile First & Customer Experience Management Change Everything

Written by Jonathan Lambert on

Phones and tablets are becoming the primary way the customers access content. Recently, we retired a series of iPhones from our family that had run their course. The old iPhone 3GS became the micro tablet for my four-year-old child, and an iPod touch became the micro tablet for my seven-year-old. Obviously, as a CEO of a company that does mobile, I have traditional tablets like iPads and Google's devices available in my household. However, the leftover phones have become the foundation of the majority of use for playing games for the young ones and not tablets because of their preference. Most of their time is spent on phones and tablets, and not on a computer though one is available to them. Why is it that phones are so popular among young users?

Executive Summary: Mobile first is a foregone conclusion. Connecting data together unleashes incredible power from content by combining social, mobile, and web with crm, automated marketing, analytics, and other customer-insight platforms. Drupal is an awesome platform to do it. Brand and tech managers need better justification, tangible outcomes, and packaged solutions — the tech sale is dying. Let's get the conversation going on Drupal Customer Experience Management — this is just an introductory post.

On Tuesday a new report from Piper Jaffray titled, Taking Stock With Teens (pdf) came out. This is a piece of research looking into the consumer spending habits of American teenagers. while there's a lot of information about brands, which handbags are popular, etc, page 36 talks about how Apple's mobile devices continue to gain popularity among teens. IPhone ownership among teens, according to the study, has gone up from 40% last fall, to 48% of all teens owning an iPhone today. 62% of teens plan on making the iPhone their next mobile device. 51% of teens surveyed owned a tablet computer, up from 44% in the fall of 2012. This is an exciting time because these are the users that are growing up with mobile is the very first technology experience they ever have. As my generation grew up with personal computing, our children are growing up with mobile devices at the forefront of their first experiences. Therefore, "mobile first" isn't radical, it's inevitable.

Mobile First is a customer insight, not a change

What brands need to understand is that the increasing ubiquity of mobile devices as a channel means that the idea of mobile first in design isn't even close to radical. It's inevitable, and it's going to become so accepted over the next 10 years to be mobile first that the idea of not having a mobile strategy is almost certain death for brands. There is no longer such a thing as an off-line business: every company must have a digital strategy to survive. And the trend is that the core of that strategy is going to be mobile.

But one of the things that we've learned over the last seven years is that our most successful projects are the ones where were able to help customers look at users first and then look at customers is a subset of that larger group. Creating a campaign that creates engagement is about building a powerful user experience instead of just trying to get people to click on stuff. Fundamentally, growing your user base grows your customer base, so keeping users happy is growing your customer base.

Online and off-line data sources represent one of the greatest untapped opportunities for our customers. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, website channels, mobile channels, mobile apps (thank you Acquia for your support on this), and a host of other partnerships and other channel opportunities available to the majority of large customers that we work with need to be combined with off-line systems that actually run the business. So, understanding how a customer is working with you on your website, downloading white papers, clicking around and looking at executive profiles, or checking out some of your core products and services, needs to be associated with your CRM system so you can know who those customers are and if you're serving them effectively, your finance systems so you can know if you're serving the customers you already have effectively with the content that your delivering, and a host of other systems like ERP and other Enterprise DBs. In the middle of this online and off-line data is a host of systems like Google analytics, kontagent, kiss metrics and others.

The problems that customers often run into are a lack of dedicated resources for analytics, absolutely huge volumes of data being generated from all of these different online and off-line data points, difficulty understanding what data points need to be tracked, and poorly instrumented applications that aren't actually capturing the right data points in a way that customers can understand.

Drupal & Customer Experience...

CXO, or Customer eXperience Management, has become one of the new buzzwords that you hear thrown about all of the time. I think there are a number of factors that are driving this emergence as a terminology, I think these two factors are working in harmony to create a more mature ecosystem around Drupal.

First: Experience. As a word, it is the active term. Customer experience has been the focus of web usability since Jakob Nielsen drove the simplicity revolution in online websites in the mid 90s. But experience has become a term that's in every online managers vocabulary in almost every conversation about customers in almost every major corporation that we're talking to about Drupal. Managers have come to an understanding that user centered principles that came out of the user centric design revolution are now the easiest and most convenient way to understand how to build a successful, engaging, brand experience. The old customer centric approach, now applied with the word experience, is the foundation of the rise of terminology.

Focusing on the customer experience in doing so in an integrated fashion is the foundation of building fantastically effective technology solutions, and brand experiences. The main driver of this change is the fact that brand managers now need to understand how to deliver seamless, integrated customer experiences across multiple channels, and across every touch point whether it be indexed by time, device, or other factor.

The second factor is that Managers are also being asked to justify the financial investment, and provide tangible outcomes that can be presented to boards. This is challenging, not because there is a particular challenge in gathering statistics in an online environment, but because traditionally you're dealing with so many different vendors when X getting the sense of campaigns, and many different channels and technology platforms, that putting all of the actions together into an integrated trackable campaign can be overwhelming.

There's a third factor at work as well, which is particular prevalent in open source. And that there is the factor of the technology being sold as a technology product. Vendors are having to look at providing more integrated solutions, because customers need them, and because the complexity of building these integrated communications channels that support brand outcomes and that can be measured, is exceedingly difficult and often exceeds any particular campaigns' budget to meaningfully assemble. The technology solutions providers need, and are slowly responding, to the pressure that brand managers feel. They're starting to provide integrated solutions, the so-called "one throat to choke."

These pressures are driving not only the adoption of major open source platforms, but also software as a service platforms.

Drupal moving from it's origins as Social Plumbing to "Customer Experience Fabric"

We've proven with project after project the Drupal can act as a service bus (think SOA architecture), federating all of the data sources for multichannel delivery to web, mobile, apps and other channels. And we've proven with project after project that you can use Drupal as a "layer on top"of all your enterprise data, CRM, and other internal tools. What were working on Workhabit, and have been for some time, is building a mature technology stack to deliver all of these channels is an out of box experience, and the layer of analytics and tracking, including integration of online and off-line data sources, that makes Drupal into a fantastic platform for Customer Experience Management.

By understanding what's happening with the young generations that are Mobile First by default and that it's a foregone conclusion that these are not just trends but facts, combined with an approach that customers are a subset of your users and not your primary audience, you can begin to build a content strategy that is deeply engaging, social, and ultimately drives incredible brand strategy. The underlying trends that are making Customer Experience Management a focus is the difficultly in delivering to multiple channels, the need to justify the money technology and brand managers are spending, and the fact that vendors and integrators are increasingly responding to that challenge.

But what is successful customer experience management?

First I'd like to say, that after years of working on customer facing platforms for some the largest brands in the world over career that's spanned a decade and a half, I am extremely excited about the fact that brand managers are starting to take customer experience seriously. It's awesome, and it's way past time for customers to be the center of conversations about technology. There's a new focus on customers as the most valuable asset that a company has. And that focus helps companies to structure their business around managing that customer relationship, to help retention, revenue, and other core metrics that define profitability. While it's obvious that the focus of any business is to serve customers, it takes a progressive organization to understand the customers of the most important people at any organization. They are the core resource on which any business depends and when thinking about customers its important to remember a few things. First repeating business is the backbone of sales and is more and more work become service-oriented relationships become much more important to the bottom line. A recurring, happy customer base provide certainty to revenue that cannot otherwise be obtained, and lowers the cost of acquisition and sale. Second, you can lose your customers. Any an increasingly digital world, where so many brands are subject to spontaneous large-scale reactions through social media and other sharing mechanisms, not paying attention to customer sentiment, loyalty and satisfaction, and other key metrics could actually lose customers at scale. Third, and not to be facetious, but without customers no business would exist, because the purpose of an organization is to fill the needs of the customer, and the customer makes it possible for that business to achieve its aims.

Customer satisfaction is at the heart of the sales process, and it's well known that the cost of acquiring new customers typically higher than the cost of retaining an existing customer for the vast majority of businesses. Building customer relationships can be seen as moving effort up the ladder, increasing an organization's potential revenue and margin, while doing the right thing. At the top run the latter are your advocates, the most loyal customers of your brand. They also happen to be the most vocal customers of your brand in most cases. The ability of an organization to move customers from one-time customers, to regular customers, and into this special role as an advocate depends entirely on how that customer feels treated by the organization.

I would submit that the primary purpose of customer experience management is to move customers up the ladder so that they become vocal, recurring, loyal customers. As a primary objective, tracking and working with these types of customers, who are typically much more engaged, available, and responsive seems to be the focus of the vast majority of CXO. And if driving user love leads to more customers, and customer satisfaction is that the heart of good sales process, then user focus is paramount in driving the bottom line. Besides, all the cool kids are on iPhones.

What I'm saying is completely obvious, so what are customers actual experiences? How do they feel about brands? And how are the vast majority of customers treated? the answer is unfortunately, fairly poorly. Despite all the pretty case studies, most of the time customers are thought of as an afterthought.

However, that's changing as this becomes more and more popular as a topic, and that's very exciting.

CXO 100

Obviously this is just a little post to look at some of the trends and factors that are driving customer experience. Look for more from Workhabit around Drupal and Customer Experience Management in the next few months. This is something we're exploring with our agency, and spending a great deal of time looking at how we can build better experiences for users with Drupal. Mobile first in Drupal 8 is absolutely the right approach, and were very excited about the work is being put into the Spark initiative, and we're working very hard to make sure that you can connect the IOS and social ecosystems reliably to Drupal so that multichannel publishing and analytics is deeply integrated.