In recent years, there has been a lot of focus on customer journeys to create an engaging customer experience. Each touchpoint of the customer journey offers an immense opportunity for organizations to engage with customers and provide a differentiated experience to clients on their journeys.
With this context, there has been a renewed focus on understanding Customer journeys at a micro level to understand customer pain points and understand their steps, needs, and perceptions of interactions to achieve an outcome. A rich understanding of Customer Journeys of certain target segments, also known as personas, provides insights to CX professionals to design a superior experience.
Customer interactions today span multiple physical and digital touchpoints and so the journeys customers take to make a decision have become more complex. For instance, an 18-year-old purchasing a smartwatch is unlikely to visit a store before making a purchase decision. Instead, she is likely going to rely on her social network to get feedback on various parameters like coolness quotient, features, and price to make a purchase decision, which by the way, is very likely to happen on a mobile app.
From an organization’s standpoint, this journey is not a straightforward purchase decision, but rather a non-linear process where a lot of back and forth happens and multiple channel touchpoints need to come together for a decision to happen.
Customer Journeys are non-Linear illustration for a smartphone purchase
Existing customers have an additional expectation that the firm ‘knows me, engages me and serves me’ on the channel and timing of my choice. Customer Experience professionals need to find ways to influence these journeys at the channel of customer’s choice and unlocking insights from customer’s footprints. This is really where firms need to power of the API ecosystem to redefine customer journeys. A well-defined API ecosystem provides a great way to tap into insights from each stage of customer journeys and tap into processes spanning front office to back office to provide an engaging customer experience.
To continue the previous example, a client who recently purchased a smartwatch, unfortunately, got a defective product and in a few moments tweeted about this. This tweet triggered a customer service case, met with prompt service from a call center rep, who assured to offer a quick replacement.
While this satisfied the customer, the experience can be taken to a different level, if she is provided real-time updates into the delivery of the watch (using the inventory management API’s) and a complementary Uber ride to her UC Irvine campus (using insights on her studying in UC Irvine, along with API integration of Uber)
Let’s now think about how a well thought out API strategy can meaningfully shape customer journeys. The emergence of an API economy with powerful platforms like Mulesoft has enabled organizations to think about API and micro-services in completely different ways. While in the early days, API’s were about creating a modular architecture, it quickly emerged that this modular architecture can be a foundation for shaping customer experience strategy. The below table highlights 4 different ways in which API’s can really shape customer journeys
The above figure highlights how a modular API is driven architecture can be a source of competitive advantage in automating Customer-facing processes, understanding existing customers better and using insights to tap into newer customer segments. However, the ability to foster ecosystems and redefine value chain using APIs is the most compelling source of competitive advantage for organizations. The below table illustrates various use cases for the 4 scenarios using API’s
|How API’s shape customer journeys||Examples|
|Simplifying and automating processes|| Perform Credit Check for lending authentication
Check inventory status in a particular location to drive pricing and deal decisions
|Improving Engagement for existing Customers|| Improve Banking experience for customers across multiple LOBs with customer 360
Better targeting and offers for cellular customers by leveraging family purchase history
|Tap into newer Customer segments||Cross-sell P&C insurance products to life insurance customers
What does this mean for Organizations?
The ability to provide modular information via API’s enables companies to really shape and influence the customer journeys. Addressing these needs require a well thought out CX architecture and API strategy. Experience API’s aggregate information from multiple processes to close a missing link for the customer.
Organizations need to use 3 D’s of API strategy to maximize value for themselves. These are
- Data: Unlocking data in various siloes forms the core of API strategy. Once unlocked, this data can be made visible in a wide variety of customer journeys.
- Decisioning: Process API’s provide a great way to aggregate system information and automate decisioning process
- Design: Experience API’s can be harnessed to design a contextual experience for customers
In sum, having a solid API strategy is one of the key ways to influence customer journeys and design superior customer experience. Organizations that invest in creating this foundation and work with various IT teams to unlock the siloes will ultimately get rewarded by having a better understanding of their customers, with an ability to engage and influence them.
Enabling business outcomes with Heroku platform.
As enterprises rapidly adopt Salesforce ecosystem, they expect great customer experience minus the complexity to turn on the functionality.
However, as we consider Salesforce implementation roadmap, we often miss considering the power of platforms for a scalable CRM strategy. In the piece, we will delve a bit deeper into Heroku, a powerful Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering, which is a great place to build custom apps tightly integrated with Salesforce and help you reduce costs and scale faster.
Consider a scenario. You are Smart Widgets Inc, a widget manufacturing company, that use Salesforce for Marketing Campaigns, Sales and Service processes. As your business rapidly expands, you have received multiple requirements from your business and IT stakeholders.
- Your marketing team wants custom branded UI applications for external customers connected to salesforce.
- The HR team wants to create a bunch of custom employee apps that are closely connected with Salesforce.
- The product team has recently launched a new line of smart widgets, that generates sensor data running into terabytes. They want to ensure that combine insights from Salesforce platform along with IoT information from smart widgets to provide contextual usage recommendations to your customers.
- Finally, you want to empower your IT teams to run DevOps based rapid deployments, without having to manage IT operations overheads.
As a technology leader, you need to be a wizard to manage competing needs from internal business and IT teams. Enter Heroku, a solution, that makes you look like a wizard within your organization.
Heroku enables SmartWidgets Inc to manage all of these requirements with an added advantage of being securely integrated as part of Salesforce ecosystem.
What is Heroku?
Heroku is a PAAS platform that delivers an agile and scalable rapid development environment. It takes away all the complexities involved in an on-premises or cloud-based IAAS (Infrastructure as a service) deployments, allows you to quickly deploy custom apps on any programming language and allows the technology and business teams to work towards the common goal of delivering value to customers.
Heroku provides a bunch of features with Heroku connect, allowing seamless integration with Salesforce clouds, Heroku Private Spaces for securely running mission-critical apps and Heroku Shield to address data encryption and privacy along with regular PaaS features like rapid deployments, reduced IT overheads and scalable architecture. Heroku acts as an agent of business change while security and scalability to IT team.
Heroku as an agent of business change
Effective Customer engagement with faster deployment and better response times
- Effective customer engagement is one of the most important parameters for measuring the success of a business and has become the most critical element of any business.
- Heroku provides an agile platform which enables the fast delivery of customer engagement apps and APIs. The platform provides continuous real-time analytics into how effective the engagement is and how it can be improved by making rapid changes to the current solution. Heroku not only delivers the functionality at a fast speed but also provides a playground for businesses to test and validate the changes before putting them in front of the customers.
Deliver slick customer facing apps and UI with coding platform of choice
- Precision customer-facing apps has become even more critical in today’s world. More and more companies want the customer-facing web and mobile apps tailored to the exact business specifications to deliver value for their customers.
- Heroku as a platform provides the flexibility to build slick customer-facing apps using various open source technologies. The platform has built-in plumbing for various technologies which lets the business and technology teams focus only on the functionalities to be delivered to the customers.
Flexibility to enable rapid prototypes and multiple iterations
- The speed of business change has never been more critical. A rigid system landscape can be very costly for a business as the customer’s needs are continuously evolving and customers expect their demands to be met not sometime in the future but yesterday itself !
- With Heroku’s rapid development and prototyping platform, businesses can keep up with the changing needs of the customers and stay ahead of the curve. Heroku’s agile platform takes away all the complexities involved in a traditional IT delivery life cycle and helps technology and business teams to deliver new apps and changes to the existing ones at a very fast pace.
Seamlessly tap into the power of Salesforce ecosystem
- Isolated employee and customer processes hamper the faster realization of business value. It is very important for point applications to be integrated with the Salesforce ecosystem to quickly realize business benefits. Both the employee and business apps need to access each other’s data and have processes that flow across the boundaries.
- It enables the creation of connected processes using open source apps, data services, connectors and APIs which delivers a seamless experience for employees as well as customers. Intelligent analytics with data that flows through these boundaries helps business plug in the process gaps and deliver experiences that take customer engagement to a new level.
Platform that scales horizontally and vertically
- Heroku provides a platform that can scale horizontally and vertically to meet the changing needs. The platform provides tools that can instantly scale up the environment to meet a variety of conditions, such as the increase in incoming traffic, delivery of new apps or services or even the addition of new business units. The platform also provides easy scale down of the environment to keep the costs under check and ensures that business pays for only what they use.
Heroku is delivering business value across wide variety of Industries
- Heroku platform is delivering value across a wide variety of industries. The attached infographic depicts few Heroku use cases and business applicability.
So, what does it mean for you?
- Businesses can tap into Heroku as it offers multiple features that make it a unique PAAS platform. Its built-in integration with Salesforce is a massive advantage for organizations that use Salesforce. With Heroku-Salesforce enterprise ecosystem organizations can deliver amazing customer experiences in no time. The wide variety of technology support as standard and an ever-growing Add-Ons marketplace makes it easier to extend the platform as per the growing needs.
- In our next series, we will talk about how Heroku empowers SmartWidgets Inc’s Technology teams to deliver enterprise-grade, secure, performant and scalable solutions.