Tag: customer experience management

How Digital Experience Management Differs from Content Management

Posted by on October 12, 2017

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When considering Digital Experience Management and Content Management, it’s best to have a concrete definition of both terms to fully understand how they differ.

What is digital experience?

Digital experience includes a number of things, including communications, processes and products from every digital aspect that engages an audience. This includes wearables, use of the web and mobile devices, beacons and recognition. The information gathered is analyzed to provide insight into customer relationships, identity, and intentions as they interact with businesses and organizations. This helps determine how companies deliver these digital experiences for their customers for future success.

What is content management?

Content management is also known as CM or CMS. It involves the collection, acquisition, editing, tracking, access and delivery of both structured and unstructured digital information. This content includes business records, financial data, customer service data, images, video, marketing information and other digital information.

With content management, you create and manage content, finding ways to generate awareness across multiple channels to reach more people. While having content is good, it’s more about offering the entire “experience” to the user that will give them more enhanced, enriched engagement. Content Management Systems have continuously evolved, integrating contextual digital experiences. This requires a comprehensive and effective strategy, the right tools, the right approach, and most of all, the right technology. An optimal digital experience embraces all these elements to provide personalized, responsive, and consistent experiences for every user you engage.

How is this done?

Digital experience (DX) management works in conjunction with content management, but is more comprehensive and fulfilling to the user. Think about the different outlets that engage customers – websites, social media, microsites, text messages, mobile apps and more. All these elements offer a complete digital experience. The processes and technology that provide these customized, consistent experiences is the management of it all.

One of the best ways they differ is that in digital experience management, the distribution channels all have objectives to follow and limitations. These help drive specific requirements for content and how to manage it. For instance, your tone and CTA will be different based on the digital platform you use. Additionally, when interacting with content, users want personalized experiences based on analytics you have determined appropriate for that channel. This allows them to seamlessly interact within that experience.

Web publishing used to be the first line of engagement, but not anymore There are too many channels users interact with that require ways in which publishers can gather feedback to quickly adjust their content. Without this management model in place, the system will not work.

Tools of the trade

There are a number of tools and systems to manage the digital experience. There are options for advanced analytics, to enhanced marketing tools that manage content based on channel. There’s also an emerging breed of Digital Experience Platforms (DXP), which provide businesses with an architecture for delivering consistent and connected customer experiences across channels, while gathering valuable insight and digitizing business operations.

When you have systems that work well together, being able to track successes becomes easier. When determining which tools will work best, you may want to start with product mapping. As a basis, the digital experience tool should include a combination of inbound marketing automation, analytics, and content management. Getting a system developed to meet all your needs is key.

As different avenues of engagement now drive the customer experience rather than the web, delivering a comprehensive and holistic experience is key. The digital experience is more complete, diverse and authentic – future thinking, while integrating content is how it should be done.

Machine Learning is State-of-the-Art AI, and It Can Help Enhance the Customer Experience

Posted by on October 05, 2017

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Is artificial intelligence the same as machine learning? Machine learning is really a subset of artificial intelligence, and a more precise way to view it is that it is state-of-the-art AI. Machine learning is a “current application of AI” and is centered around the notion that “we should…give machines access to data and let them learn for themselves.” There is no limit to that data (or Big Data).  The challenge is harnessing it for useful purposes.

In his Forbes Magazine piece, contributor Bernard Marr, describes AI as the “broader concept of machines being able to carry out tasks in a way we would consider ‘smart.’” So, AI is any technique that allows computers to imitate human intelligence through logic, “if-then” rules, decisions trees and its crucial component, machine learning.  Machine learning, as an application of AI, employs abstruse (i.e., difficult to understand) statistical techniques, which improve machine performance through exposure to Big Data.

AI has broad applications…

Companies around the world use AI in information technology, marketing, finance and accounting, and customer service. According to  a Harvard Business Review article, IT garners the lion’s share of popularity in AI activities, ranging in applications that detect and deflect security intrusions, to automating production management work. Beyond security and industry, AI has broad applications in improving customer experiences with automatic ticketing, voice- and face-activated chat bots, and much more.

Machine learning is data analysis on steroids…

AI’s subset, machine learning, automates its own model building. Programmers design and use algorithms that are iterative, in that the models learn by repeated exposure to data. As the models encounter new data, they adapt and learn from previous computations. The repeatable decisions and results are based on experience, and the learning grows exponentially.

The return of machine learning

Having experienced somewhat of a slump in popularity, AI and machine learning have, according to one software industry commentator, Jnan Dash, seen “a sudden rise” in their deployment. Dash points to an acceleration in AI/machine learning technology and a market value jump “from $8B this year to $47B by 2020.”

Machine learning, according to one Baidu scientist will be the “new electricity,” which will transform technology. In other words, AI and machine learning will be to our future economy what electricity was to 20th century industry.

The big players are pushing AI and machine learning. Apple, Google, IBM, Microsoft and social media giants Facebook and Twitter are accelerating promoting machine learning. One Google spokesman, for example, recognizes machine learning as “a core transformative way in which we are rethinking everything we are doing.”

How Machine learning has transformed General Electric…

A striking example of how AI and machine learning are transforming one of the oldest American industries, General Electric, is highlighted in this Forbes piece. Fueled by the power of Big Data, GE has leveraged AI and machine learning in a remarkable—and ongoing—migration from an industrial, consumer products, and financial services firm “to a ‘digital industrial’ company” focusing on the “Industrial Internet.” As a result, GE realized $7 billion in software sales in 2016.

GE cashed in on data analytics and AI “to make sense of the massive volumes of Big Data” captured by its own industrial devices.  Their insights on how the “Internet of Things” and machine connectivity were only the first steps in digital transformation led them to the realization that “making machines smarter required embedding AI into the machines and devices.”

After acquiring the necessary start-up expertise, GE figured out the best ways to collect all that data, analyze it, and generate the insights to make equipment run more efficiently. That, in turn, optimized every operation from supply chain to consumers.

5 ways machine learning can also enhance the customer experience…

Machine learning can integrate business data to achieve big savings and efficiency to enhance customer experiences, by:

  1. Reading a customer’s note and figure out whether the note is a complaint or a compliment
  2. Aggregating the customer’s personal and census information to predict buying preferences
  3. Evaluating a customer’s online shopping history or social media participation and place a new product offering in an email, webpage visit, or social media activity
  4. Intuitively segmenting customers through mass customer data gathering, grouping, and targeting ads for each customer segment
  5. Automating customer contact points with voice- or face-activated “chat bots”

How Rivet Logic can make you future-ready and customer friendly

Your business may be nowhere near the size of General Electric. You do, however, have a level playing field when it comes to leveraging Big Data and machine learning products to a winning strategy. What we do is help you plan that strategy by:

  • Aligning your business goals with technology—What are the sources of your own data and how can they harness the power of NoSQL databases, for example?
  • Designing your user experience—What do you need? A custom user interface, or a mobile app with intuitively simple user interfaces?

We can do that and much more. Contact us and we’ll help make your business future-ready to collect, harvest, and leverage all the great things you are doing now.

Building Brand Advocates: Customer Experience Strategies that Work

Posted by on September 19, 2017

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Simply providing customers with reasonable access to your information and a way to purchase your products or services is no longer “good enough”. Today’s consumer is incredibly savvy and has high expectations, so if you’re expecting them to become brand advocates without some optimization on your part to create a superior customer experience you are in for a nasty shock. Think about the brands that you recommend to your friends and family members. Are they the brands that put barriers between you and the product, or do they provide an intuitive and friendly experience that leaves you with a good feeling about the brand? If you’ve wondered what that special sauce is that keeps customers coming back for more, keep reading to see how you can empower your fans and turn them into raving brand advocates.

Know Your Audience (and Target Your Message)

The first step in building brand advocates is fully understanding your audience. Do you know who your best customers are — those that come back repeatedly even when you’re not having a sale? The one-off buyers that only come around when you’re having a sale are not your target market, as they’re likely shopping around your competitors looking for sales as well. However, the individuals who are willing to purchase at full price are the ones who should be your first market. Offer them incentives to spread the word about your brand by providing them with VIP status: early access to new offerings or sales, make them part of an elite focus group or other non-monetary incentives. Targeting a specific message to these loyal customers can help them turn the corner into true brand advocates who amplify your marketing message.

Empower Your Service Team

No one likes being put on hold to be transferred to another department, especially because you’re generally a bit upset already at having to make a phone call for service. The situation becomes worse when a customer is required to repeat their needs . . . each time they’re transferred! Ensure that your customer service staff is fully empowered to solve customer problems the first time whenever possible and within set parameters. However, there are times that they’ll need to pull in a colleague. When this happens, be sure that the customer does not have to repeat their story — this causes a negative feeling and doesn’t build customer loyalty because of the disconnected feel of their experience.

Put a Face to Your Brand

This could mean a variety of things, but be sure that your brand has personality. Whenever possible, respond to requests as a human, with a name and face attached, instead of responding as a remote brand. Humans crave relationships and engagements with other people, and providing that type of interaction ensures your customer has a memorable experience. Take a cue from the CEO of Zappos who treats long call times as a benefit that cannot be overstated, and a useful tool in building brand loyalty. Treat people like individuals, and make marketing emails and interactions more of a personal experience instead of a stuffy, remote corporate response.

. . . But Don’t be Creepy

Overdoing personalization can be much worse than not addressing your audience as individuals, so always be aware that there’s a fine line between friendly and creepy. If you want to know more about your customers to enhance their experience, simply ask them for details! This can often be the best way to determine which of your products and services is the ideal fit for their needs. Few organizations have the deep pockets of Amazon or Netflix to form the type of recommendation engines that seem to know what you need before you even need it (and deliver that information to you regardless of where you’re browsing!), but asking a few simple questions and tailoring your responses doesn’t have to be expensive. Numerous personal goods companies request your favorite colors, design choices, and sizes to offer you the options that will interest you the most.

Add Value to Your Conversations

Some brands seem to be reading a marketing manual that states they must put out a certain number of content pieces per day, regardless of the value of that content. Don’t waste your audience’s time by sifting through low-quality information. Instead, strive to provide unique value when you offer information. Re-posting great content from the past isn’t necessarily a bad thing, either. With the cyclical nature of social media, you’re unlikely to hit the same people in your audience twice — even if you try!

While measuring engagement can be important, be sure you’re measuring the right pieces of data to determine the impact of your customer experience strategies. There’s a mental shift to be made from impressions to engagements for ads, for instance. While impressions are great and help build brand awareness, true advocacy comes from customers sharing the ideas and resources that you put forth.

At Rivet Logic, we help brands understand their audiences and deliver riveting digital experiences that surprise and delight customers. Learn more about our Customer Experience Management solutions.

Optimizing Your Customer Experience Management

Posted by on August 15, 2017

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A customer’s experience with your organization may, in fact, be more important than the quality of either your products or your services. Customers today want to feel valued — they want to be able to have their needs both anticipated and fulfilled. Improving upon and optimizing your customer’s experiences is called customer experience management. Through new technologies, there are many ways that you can improve upon your customer experience management and, additionally, your ROI.

Integrate Your CRM, Marketing Automation, and Media Solutions Into a Single Infrastructure

Optimizing customer experience begins with consolidating and analyzing your data. To that end, integrating your CRM and marketing solutions can be an incredibly effective first step. Comprehensive CRM and marketing automation solutions — such as Salesforce, Marketo and HubSpot — almost universally come with third-party integrations out-of-the-box. For more distinct infrastructures, APIs, importing and exporting, or custom programming may be required. Regardless, this will create a single infrastructure that contains all of your customer information.

Not only does this improve analytics, but it also improves customer care overall. Both customer service representatives and sales personnel will have all of the information they need to quickly service the customers and get them the information that they need. Marketing campaigns will be able to target customers based on their prior behaviors — and will be able to prompt them towards purchasing more effectively.

Develop an Omni-Channel Approach through Content Management Systems

Content Management Systems (CMS) make it easier to push content directly to a multitude of different channels. Social media, email marketing, and websites can all be consolidated under a single content system — so that a single push of the button can update customers on a variety of platforms. Omni-channel approaches make it easier to scale your organization upwards and to reach out to individuals across multiple demographics and interests. Through regular content distribution, companies can achieve better organic growth and improve upon their inbound marketing.

A CMS is particularly useful for lead procurement and demand generation. With the use of a CMS, a strong and strategic digital marketing campaign can ensure that leads come to the business rather than the business having to procure leads. Organizations are thus able to improve upon their ROI, extend their marketing reach, and refocus their budget to additional areas of advertising and support.

Explore Big Data, Such as Emotional Analytics and Predictive Intelligence

Emotional analytics and big data can work together to develop new strategies for customer acquisition and retention. Algorithms are now available that are substantially advanced that they can look at patterns of customer behavior and determine the best way to service that customer. At its most complex, emotional analytics can involve motion capture and facial analysis, in order to detect micro-expressions that may aid in detecting the customer’s emotional state. But this isn’t the type of analytics that would most commonly be used by a business. Businesses, instead, would most likely use text-based analysis or verbal analysis, to detect the best leads based on their word usage and the amount of emotive statements they have made.

Not all big data is so complex. Predictive intelligence can also be much simpler, such as looking at a customer’s past purchases and predicting when they will need to make further purchases. Predictive intelligence is used to fantastic effect on many e-commerce marketplaces, to suggest items that may be relevant to the consumer based on the items that they have either purchased or browsed. Predictive intelligence can also be used to detect and identify certain patterns, such as whether a customer may have abandoned a shopping cart due to high shipping charges.

Create Knowledge Management Systems for Superior Customer Service

Customers today often prefer to self-service. A solid customer service experience is, thus, often one in which the customer does not need to contact the organization at all. New help desk and support solutions can be nearly entirely automated, so that customers can get the answers they need out of a knowledge management system. This management system may take the form of a helper website or even a live chat with a bot. When self-service fails, customers prefer a variety of ways to communicate: through email, phone, instant messaging, or even text message.

By providing these additional resources for customers, organizations not only assist the customer in getting what they want, but also reduce their own administrative overhead. The more customer service can be automated, the less time and money the organization has to sink into technical support and customer service personnel.

It’s an exciting time for organizations looking to improve upon their customer experience. Through better customer experience management, companies can fine-tune their operations and ensure that their customers keep coming back.

Creating a Successful Multi-channel Customer Experience

Posted by on February 11, 2016

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Forrester has coined the term Age of the Customer to describe today’s customer-centric era. To succeed, businesses must not only undergo a digital transformation, but to also do so with their customers’ needs in mind.

The modern consumer’s demands are ever increasing, they want the convenience of researching and comparing products online, and they want that information to be delivered on their terms. They also want options, with the ability to choose when, where, and how they interact with your brand.

Meanwhile, the digital landscape is ever changing, with the number of touchpoints on the rise, and each interaction with your brand is a piece of the overall experience. The key to a successful multi-channel approach is to put users at the center of your digital strategy and offer them a consistent experience throughout the entire journey that may span across multiple channels in a single transaction.

However, that consistent multi-channel experience also needs to be contextual, to serve up relevant content that enable users to more effectively perform tasks based on different scenarios they may be in. For example, a banking desktop site might show the user’s account summary after they log in, whereas its mobile app might want to show nearby branch locations.

Your technology needs to simplify this otherwise complex process, through a flexible solution that’s able to serve up that seamless experience for your users – they need to be able to switch from a desktop site to mobile app, and be able to pick up exactly where they left off.

To accomplish this, businesses need a flexible Multi-channel Content Management solution that can effectively engage a variety of audience groups across all applications, devices, and channels.

Rivet Logic’s Multi-channel Content Management solution is a seamless integration of Crafter CMS and Alfresco, enabling businesses to create and manage all content types through a user-friendly authoring tool, then publish to any or all channels and formats in a single step!

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The solution leverages Alfresco for its powerful content management capabilities and Crafter CMS for its modern platform for building and managing rich online experiences across all digital channels. The result is a solution that allows you to create engaging, two-way conversations with your users to enable that personalized interaction with your brand!

Learn more about how you can benefit from a Multi-channel Content Management solution in our datasheet.

Building Engaging Customer Experiences Powered by MongoDB

Posted by on July 08, 2014

This spring and summer, the MongoDB Road Show stops in over 20 cities across the country to educate users on how MongoDB can be used to build modern business apps to improve the customer experience and accelerate time to market. Rivet Logic sponsored several of the cities and presented on the topic of building engaging customer experiences with MongoDB, discussing how a modern database can be used to better leverage existing data to derive business value. The next MongoDB Road Show is this Thursday, July 10, in San Francisco!

What Organizations Need

Organizations seeking to build engaging customer experiences on the Web often have a similar set of goals. To start, they want to increase user adoption by providing an engaging experience that brings value to the end-user. This can lead to increased customer retention, allowing organizations to create loyal customers who can then become their own brand ambassadors.

Moreover, organizations want to capitalize on their customers’ and users’ creativity and innovation by seamlessly weaving in the ability to collaborate, interact, and share into every aspect of the user experience. Businesses find the quality of this type of engagement to be particularly beneficial, due to its unpredictability. However, to enhance the value of these interactions, users need a motivator, meaning organizations need to create high quality content that’s personalized and targeted to each user’s needs.

While personas are great and have worked well to capture general types of users, in reality, users think of themselves more as individuals, with evolving interests over time. Organizations are now faced with delivering personalized experiences beyond a persona level and at an individual level.

What’s the Problem?

However, many organizations are having a hard time with this fine-grained personalization, and it’s largely due to the limiting technology they’re working with. IT teams are often faced with seemingly “impractical” features that business teams are requesting.

Organizations today are using separate systems like standalone content apps – blogs, forums, wikis, – commenting engines, traditional databases, and BI tools to enable user interaction and collect and analyze information about them. The quality of user interactions is largely driven by the quality of the user-generated content being collected and analyzed. However, since much of this valuable customer data is silo’d in disparate systems, it’s not allowing businesses to effectively leverage their existing data.

While many have attempted to find workarounds for this, there hasn’t been any real success in creating a coherent rich user interaction data set that brings value to all the delivery use cases available. For example, when a user joins the comment thread of a blog entry, they are unaware of the possibility of a forum thread that is discussing the same topic. In addition, these solutions are typically backed by traditional databases, which requires changing of the infrastructure to accommodate new use cases, posing a challenge.

The fact is, the various types of interactions that exist today are disjointed, resulting in redundancy and little chance of connecting and leveraging them. It’s critical that we make these interactions context-aware, and the only way of effectively doing so is to have a holistic view of all the user-generated content that’s being collected, while also allowing the interactions to cross application boundaries.

Pillars of a Good Solution

Successful solutions that meet these challenges must adhere to the following pillars:

Flexibility – The solution must be implemented using technology agnostic building blocks. Being a certain type of shop (.Net, PHP, Windows, etc.) constrains organizations from using the right tools for the job. Using technology agnostic building blocks as the underlying infrastructure allows organizations to innovate and improve their business without being held back by technology.

Scalability – The solution must be scalable without sacrificing performance. There are many platforms out there that claim to be scalable, but what good is that when scaling means long page load times?

Visibility – It’s also extremely important to be able to know and see the overall picture and have a holistic view of user interactions that isn’t so low-level where it prevents you from seeing what they are doing (as is the case with auditing services).

Insight – Lastly, when you have rich, contextual data available in one place, organizations need to be able to leverage that information, innovate and provide new features, capability, and value to their customers.

Case Study – AT&T Developer Community

Now let’s take a look at how a solution like this might be used in the real world. AT&T is currently undergoing an initiative to build a solution to enhance the user experience of their developer community site. The existing site’s collaboration tools are traditional in nature (i.e. blogs and forums), where user engagement is fragmented, making it difficult to find interesting content and reducing collaboration value.

To resolve this, Rivet Logic is implementing a solution that enables user-generated content to cross application boundaries and reside in one location via Crafter Social, while also allowing for better personalization by using Crafter Profile to maintain a dynamic customer profile.

Crafter Social easily adds social engagement features – user-generated comments, likes, ratings, blogs, discussion forums, and more – to a website by attaching social features to any content item or page. And Crafter Profile provides user profile and account management to help create personalized experiences.

For example, in the current site, if a user comments on a blog entry and another user participates in a forum discussion about the same topic, these interactions are not associated in any way.

With the Crafter Social solution, we were able to turn the blog entry’s comment thread into a virtual forum, thus connecting the two threads of discussion into one. This simple approach is extremely powerful, satisfying all four pillars of a good solution focused on enhancing customer engagement.

Even more, due to Crafter Social’s flexible architecture and underlying data model, it can easily be extended into other use cases, made possible by MongoDB’s document-based data models. In addition, the ability to easily embed Crafter Social into any site using any technology makes it an ideal part of any developer’s toolkit.

As illustrated in the diagram below, Crafter Social is broken into two parts. On the client side, it can be embedded on any site page regardless of what technology was used for implementation. And on the server side, Crafter Social collects various data from different sites and use cases, maintaining a holistic view of the user data. All of this helps enhance the quality of business intelligence information generated.

With this solution, AT&T is able to achieve their goals of increased user adoption and enhanced user engagement and retention. MongoDB plays a key role in the solution’s success by enabling:

  • Flexibility – Create new apps without revisiting infrastructure
  • Scalability – Ability to store large amounts of data and query without hurting performance
  • Visibility – Data is structured in an intuitive way allowing easy translation from raw data to something actionable
  • Insight – Flexible data structures and queries pave the way for creativity and innovation

To download a copy of the slides, click here.

What’s in Store for Digital Experience Management in 2014

Posted by on January 13, 2014

2014 is here in full swing, and promises to be an exciting year as the web continues to evolve and new products and trends continue to disrupt the industry.

In 2013, we saw the continued rise of mobile and the age of the customer, where enterprises worldwide re-evaluated strategies to optimally engage with their customers in this digital era. As mobile devices continue to proliferate and have become the new norm, consumers have increasingly higher expectations of the right content delivered to them when and how they want it, resulting in customer experience management skyrocketing to the top of every organization’s priority list.

However, experience management doesn’t just apply to customers, but instead extends to include all organizational stakeholders – customers, employees, partners, etc. We also saw organizations take a closer look internally and focus their efforts on employee community building. Realizing that workplace environments are changing, with a greater need for enterprise collaboration now than ever before, companies are implementing social intranet solutions that offer dynamic and social environments to facilitate community and collaboration.

In addition, many organizations are also building web-based social communities for their external stakeholders for further engagement to improve customer relations and build brand loyalty.

Tackling these daunting digital experience management tasks require careful planning and execution. Organizations need to first determine their business strategies and goals and take the time to really understand their audience to formulate the right messaging. A well thought out strategy sets the right foundation to build your systems – customer experience management, social intranet, customer portal, etc. – upon. The technology should be an enabler of your goals and facilitate your business users to effectively carry out your business objectives.

At Rivet Logic, we believe that software should be agile systems that can easily be customized to fit each organization’s unique needs. There’s no one-size-fits-all tool, and your underlying system must be flexible and developer friendly to allow various customizations and integrations with other existing enterprise applications. In addition, your system must be user friendly for business users. As we’ve seen over the past few years, there’s been a shift from IT to Marketing as Marketing’s responsibilities have expanded to include multi-channel web content management, customer experience management, and more. The tools we employ must be easy to use for non-technical business users.

In 2014 we’ll continue to see these trends evolve. Organizations will continue to put a large emphasis on customer experience management and creating a seamless omni-channel experience as mobile continues to grow. Businesses will also focus more on big data. The explosive growth of social media and mobile devices has generated an enormous amount of user behavioral data that can be harnessed to provide organizations with valuable insight on how to better address the needs of their customers and employees.

 

Rivet Logic Participates in DCG’s Guide to Service Providers for WCM and CEM

Posted by on August 12, 2013

Digital Clarity Group recently launched their Guide to Service Providers for Web Content and Customer Experience Management – 2013 North American edition.

The research report provides valuable insight regarding the growing demand and necessity for customer experience management (CEM), and the key role service providers play in helping organizations deliver successful digital customer experiences.

“The forces of digital disruption have empowered consumers and created a growing demand for rich, engaging, and consistent experiences across multiple channels and touchpoints. Customer experience management (CEM) designates an evolving set of practices, technologies, partnerships, and business values that, taken together, enable organizations to orchestrate, offer, and optimize consistently superior customer experiences. Mastering CEM is an imperative because the quality of the experiences you offer and support will increasingly determine the fate of your company.”

It is crucial to realize that no software vendor offers a packaged solution or a complete platform for customer experience management. Companies draw upon a broad, growing, and rapidly shifting ecosystem of software solutions to support CEM. Because most interactions depend, or at least draw, upon content in a digital format, web content management (WCM) tools and practices will continue to play a central role in the CEM ecosystem for the foreseeable future.”

While technology is an enabler in delivering CEM, the real success lies in how the initiative is implemented, and choosing the right service provider — whether it be a systems integrator, digital agency, or consultant — plays a critical role.

“The customer experience imperative is clear. Organizations must create connected digital content experiences across all of the channels they manage,” says Cathy McKnight, Partner and Principal Analyst, DCG. “Successful deployment of these tools requires true expertise and, most of all, experience. Selecting the right service provider to help deploy these solutions can make or break an organization’s plan.”

The full report takes a look at 42 North American service providers that organizations might want to consider in a Web content management system implementation. Rivet Logic is proud to be a featured systems integrator participating in this report.

Click here to learn more about CEM and to download a special edition of the report.

 

Building Enterprise Customer Portals with Liferay

Posted by on April 04, 2013

Remaining competitive in today’s market means customer-driven companies must continue to provide their clients with added value, and one of the most effective ways of achieving this is through a customer portal that enables a holistic view of the information customers care about the most. Customer portals also present an opportunity for organizations to generate revenue through strategic discovery features that expose clients to products they might be interested in.

Liferay for Customer Portals

Liferay Portal provides a versatile platform for solving a variety of business needs, including intranets and extranets, collaboration sites with blogs, wikis, and forums, consumer facing websites, and social community sites with built-in social networking features. And one of the most common use cases we’ve seen is customer and self-service portals.

Liferay’s site-based architecture makes it ideal for customer portals. A key capability of these portals is to provide separate sites, pages, and content for each customer. And since Liferay allows you to easily create individual customer sites with very little work, the scoping of the content and digital assets within those sites is supported natively.

LIferay easily supports the two most important features of customer portals – personalization and site-based security.

  • Personalization – Liferay allows for creation of personalized pages for each customer. The information collected within each customer site can then be utilized in creative ways to further enhance personalization and increase user engagement. Liferay roles and teams are often used as an elegant way to differentiate between user types within a single customer site, which in turn opens the door for further fine-grained personalization.
  • Site-based Security – Liferay’s architecture facilitates security by enabling straightforward management of site members and their permissions within the site. Moreover, end users can be appointed as site administrators to help decrease help desk load while providing customers with much needed content ownership and management capabilities.

Challenges and Solutions

Every project has its challenges, and it’s important to follow best practices and address them in the beginning to ensure a smooth implementation. From our experience in implementing customer portals of varying sizes, we’ve seen a number of common challenges and have found successful ways of addressing these with Liferay’s flexible platform.

Information Architecture

The quality of the information architecture will have a large impact on the success of the portal. The information architecture defines the types of content your customers will see inside the portal and the navigation within the portal to get to the right content, so it’s critical to define and categorize the content and display it in a way that’s easy for the customer to understand. A customer portal that makes finding important content difficult is destined for failure.

To resolve this in Liferay, you need to gain a clear understanding of Liferay’s architecture along with best practices. It’s important to involve a customer sample when defining and categorizing your content to determine which content is important for each customer.

Integration

Integration is a critical part of every customer portal because, more often than not, the content that customers typically care about usually resides in external third-party enterprise systems, some of which may change over time. Therefore, the best way to approach integration is with a reusable integration layer.

Liferay supports this with their service builder library, which allows developers to create a standard service layer abstracting all integration logic. With this, technical architects can easily provide their developers with a standard API to use for systems integration, resulting in increased developer efficiency and better overall solution maintainability.

Flexibility

Many customer portal solutions in the market were built to satisfy the immediate needs of those customers. This often leads to the solutions becoming inflexible, so when new technology or new use cases are required, these solutions simply can’t keep up. In addition, today’s users expect Web-based solutions to constantly evolve and get better, making the portal solution framework’s flexibility a key factor in determining both short- and long-term success.

Liferay addresses this challenge with its native support for the implementation and deployment of custom plug-ins to address any future customer needs. Additionally, Liferay was built with customization in mind – almost every aspect of the portal can be customized or overridden without sacrificing the ability to maintain a clear and supported upgrade path.

Branding

The ability for a customer portal to support different branding aesthetics for each customer provides a much appreciated, tailored experience to the users of the portal. The challenge here is that the majority of portal frameworks in the market today don’t easily support site branding, which usually forces adopters of those technologies to stick with one look and feel for all customers. Support for interchangeable skins or themes in a portal, though challenging for the portal vendor, enables more personalized user experiences.

Liferay’s Themes, Layouts, Mobile Support, and Custom Site Metadata allow developers to create unique look and feel options for each customer. The technical knowledge required to implement different skins is standard user interface technology such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. This doesn’t just make branding easy, but also quite flexible.

Innovation

Interaction within a customer portal is typically thought to be business-to-customer. However, customer interactions don’t have to be unidirectional, and a new market trend is introducing social customer-to-customer interaction within portals. This social interaction can be particularly beneficial to companies whose revenue depends on successful ongoing transactionality between customers.

Liferay’s flexible platform and robust feature set also allows it to support innovative new features as market trends change. Rivet Logic is proud to be one of the few, if not the only, Liferay partners to have implemented such a portal with a fully integrated marketplace experience for buyers and sellers of services to collaborate and transact within the portal. With features like Google Maps-based discovery, quote management, private messaging, customer service, and more, we were able to build an extremely successful customer portal with the help of Liferay’s flexible framework.

Liferay’s robust portal platform provides a versatile solution for satisfying a variety of enterprise needs, including building consumer-facing websites. Implemented correctly, these customer portals can bring great value to your customers, resulting in increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Personalization and Targeting Web Content for Customer Experience Management

Posted by on March 12, 2013

Content targeting is all about getting the right content to the right user at the right time. While targeting used to be something large companies with big budgets utilized to make incremental improvements on transactions, it’s becoming increasingly important that organizations of all sizes start looking at content targeting.

This is largely attributed to the explosion of mobile device usage, which goes beyond just another form factor to how your sites are being used. People are online more often than ever before because they have their devices with them at all times. However, they are online in shorter bursts for specific, immediate needs in the context of their daily activity. In order to hold the attention of this new type of Web consumer, we must speak directly to them with content that is relevant to who they are, where they are, and what they need or are doing.

The tricky part is understanding your users, which can range in complexity. Usually, the more specific your overall goals and interactions with your user, the easier it is. However, in most real-world cases, we find that understanding a user can be quite complex. When a visitor visits a site, we need to determine the reason behind each specific visit. To do this, we must leverage both explicit information provided by the user (or about the user provided from sources like preferences or a profile page), and implicit information based on the user’s behavior on the site and other interactions with your organization.

When it comes to user behavior, certain behaviors are more accurate in helping us understand what a user wants. Behavioral targeting projects often discuss the use of click stream analysis, but this turns out to be a pretty inaccurate indicator of what the user actually wants. On the other side are purchases, which are great in that they tell us exactly what the user wanted. However, by that time, we’ve already missed out on the opportunity to engage with the user with up sells, cross sells, and other useful information. They already have what they need and are on their way. A purchase can certainly help us during the next visit, but it’s not usually that valuable during a visit.

However, when a user’s behavior is of the engagement type, they are telling us exactly what they want. Comments, ratings, and the ability to download content are quite important. Users love these types of features because it gives them a channel to communicate with your company and community. At the same time, these types of features are also the most accurate indicators of what the user wants during a given visit to your site, often prior to a major conversion like contacting your sales department, or even making a direct purchase.

Traditional approaches in handling audience-specific content on websites include creating mixed audience pages with content that speaks to more than one audience on a given page, or creating stove-pipe websites where sections are dedicated to each audience, or a mixture of the two. These approaches make it difficult for users to get to the content they want, especially in a mobile context.

With Crafter Rivet, we can handle content targeting in a much more effective way than these older approaches. Crater Rivet supports dynamic content through the use of templates, which along with the help of other components in the system, can make decisions about how, when, and what content to serve to any given user.

Content targeting in Crafter Rivet relies on a rules engine. The rules engine has access to information about the user which can be acquired from the user profile – populated by the user through a profile Web form, a CRM system integration, or other data source – location provided by the browser, social graph through Facebook integration, user activity tracked and recovered from analytics integration, and so on. Using these data points, the rules engine will work in conjunction with the template engine to create a unique, personal experience for each user or type of user.

To learn more about how Crafter Rivet can address content targeting, visit crafterrivet.org.