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08 / 10 / 2020

How CIOs can deploy technology to manage the customer journey

Businesses of every kind devote much effort to ensuring optimal customer experiences, whether those experiences are with a product or service, a person, a website, or an email.

But for the customer, these experiences do not exist in isolation. They are all stages on the ‘customer journey’, some of which the business may never be aware of. For example, how a good and loyal customer first encountered the business or brand.

Today’s online world has given consumers many more options as to how they start and progress their customer journey. As a result, with customer information sitting across many platforms and systems, it has become increasingly challenging for brands to understand and guide that customer journey and deliver optimal customer service.

In an increasingly competitive market brands need to invest in technology that assists them in this task, underpinned by a single source of truth about each customer. They need a state-of-the-art customer relationship management (CRM) system.

CRM: much more than contact management

CRMs are often seen as nothing more than sophisticated contact management systems, but for a CRM to fully support customer journey management it must do much more.

First and foremost, it must provide a single view of the customer and all the customer’s touch points that can be identified and tracked. That is how customers see their journey and the closer a business can get to this the better will it understand that customer’s journey.

A good CRM must also be highly flexible so services can be tailored to specific customer needs, and able to support automated marketing, sales and customer service processes.

The customer data held in the CRM will come from multiple sources and be needed by many other applications. So ease of integration with other applications and sources of data is essential.

A CRM that boasts all these features, widely regarded as the best on the market for its combination of features, ease of use, flexibility and adaptability, is SugarCRM. It is recognised by leading analysts as both a visionary and an innovator for sales force automation.

Become customer-centric, regardless of your industry

All sectors are looking into various technologies and applications that allow them to gain deeper insights into their customers. They are investing in technology teams based around digital applications that enable customer experience management and improved user experiences. It’s no longer about product-market-fit. Organisations large and small are shifting towards a market-product-fit strategy, and are using their CRM to help them achieve these goals.

Aged care in Australia is a prime example, especially in light of COVID-19 having had a direct impact on those most vulnerable – people in the 70+ age group. Australia has changed its approach to aged care and community services – power and choice has shifted from government and providers into the hands of users.

This shift, combined with the proliferation of transformational digital technologies, is forcing those that continue to operate on old models: aged care providers, manufacturers, construction and building suppliers etc, to re-think the way they work, or risk losing appeal and relevance to the customers and communities they serve.

As with any market undergoing change, these disruptions create new opportunities that attract new entrants with new approaches. Established businesses and organisations must adapt quickly to compete effectively with new entrants, build their brands and strengthen loyalty by understanding customers and their needs, and maintaining excellent relationships.

Wesley Mission Queensland (WMQ) is an aged care provider that has successfully adapted to this new environment. WMQ quickly recognised the need to engage directly with the people it serves, but information about individual customers was scattered across multiple departments, systems and spreadsheets. It needed to bring all this information together, create a single view of each individual, and use this information to understand customers and build stronger relationships with them.

“We have learnt that a single customer view requires us to think, plan, act and manage very differently. Implementing the right technology is just one element of the answer… we need to take a very different approach to how we design and manage our core customer-facing processes. We need to think carefully about the skills, capabilities and roles needed to manage aspects of the customer journey, and set up the management rhythms so we’re constantly thinking, talking and making decisions with a customer-first lens. It’s certainly hard work, and ultimately it requires a change in culture.

Selina Beauchamp, CIO at WMQ

Even the best CRM benefits from an integration partner

Selina succinctly summed up their experience of implementing a customer-centric strategy. While they could have used SugarCRM’s powerful out-of-the-box functionality, they instead chose to partner with Loaded Technologies to deliver its full potential. Loaded tailored the CRM to their individual business needs and tightly integrated it with other applications to ingest and deliver the data needed for comprehensive customer journey management.

Loaded has partnered with Sugar for more than a decade. Why? Because SugarCRM is highly customisable, enabling Loaded to work with customers to identify and meet their individual CRM requirements and build a roadmap for growth. 

Every business can benefit from the combination of a best-in-class CRM with the expertise of an integration partner, but none more so than those facing a significant shift in market dynamics, such as changes that build customer empowerment and greatly increase the options available to customers.

Take the next step

Customer relationship management goes well beyond contact management and requires a comprehensive CRM, such as SugarCRM, that’s able to integrate with a wide range of enterprise applications in order to export and import customer-relevant data. This integration presents challenges an experienced CRM integration partner like Loaded Technologies can solve, enabling enterprises to gain maximum benefit from their CRM.

If you are interested in discussing your CRM needs and how to improve your customer experiences, please contact Loaded Technologies for a free consultation and CRM Assessment Workshop (up to two hours). 

If you are interested to learn more about how Loaded Technologies has worked hand-in-hand with Wesley Mission Queensland, Bowens or The Art Gallery of NSW in transforming their customer experiences and gain data-driven insights, please get in contact with us today.