Tag: customer experience

DXP Series, Part II: DXP and the Customer Experience

Posted by on November 28, 2017

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Introduction

In Part I of our DXP Series, Is a Digital Experience Platform Right for My business, we highlighted how a digital experience platform (DXP) is a set of tools to manage the customer’s online experience.  According to Liferay, the obsession with customer experience is at the confluence of the following factors:

  • Customers interact with companies on a wide variety of digital channels (web, mobile, social media)
  • Customers demand and expect the same experiences they get from digital leaders like Google, Apple, and Facebook.
  • Social media has become the cheer- (and jeer-) leader as an unstructured way to talk as customers provide feedback and influence public sentiment.
  • Mobile devices are on the scene and immediate. They give companies additional ways to stay in touch with customers.
  • The ability to get deep customer insights provides targeting information for a single person and give that person an highly personalized experience. Those insights come through everything from analytics to scooping up big data on social media.
  • Digital technology evens the playing field. Startups can disrupt traditional industries. Think: Uber and Airbnd. Those upstarts can deliver a better customer experience. Those startups have easy access to a tool kit that becomes a platform, not just dispersed ad hoc applications.

9 pieces in the DXP toolkit

The DXP toolkit can be a platform based on a software bundle, suite, or a single piece of software.  We listed the most common platforms as follows:

  1. Content management—allowing non-technical users to fill and maintain your DXP
  2. Social media—going into the wilds and deeper into the user realm
  3. Mobile website integration—fitting your DXP to the small screens viewed by millions
  4. Portal or gateway—passage and security without the latter inhibiting the former
  5. Search functionality—finding what users are looking for so they will stick around
  6. Rich Internet Application tools (RIA)—enriching the user experience through motion and interactivity
  7. Collaboration and meetings—working together face-to-face where many heads are better than one
  8. Analytics—getting feedback and breaching the gateway to AI
  9. Backend management—maintaining the DXP behind the scenes

In this post we describe those platforms and explore ways in which DXP integrates its technologies, components, processes, data, and people. That integration explains why DXP is keeping up with the push for customer and employee engagement.

1. Content is king, but users must rule

A content management system (CMS) is an application or set of related applications used to create and manage digital content. Think of CMS as a kind of digital word processor or publisher that dumps content into your website. It is more than that, of course.

CMS makes it simpler for content creators—the people who really know the business–to manage a website without developer assistance. In larger enterprises with multiple users adding content on a regular basis, a CMS is the easiest way to keep the site content up-to-date and responsive to search engines. Your platform is only as good as its content and you need a user-friendly way to keep content current.

2. Social Media is a vast channel for exploitation

Plug in social media to a DXP and open your web portal to the data- (and customer-) rich world of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Social media plays a vital part in any migration to DXP. Users want the option to configure their own social media sharing. In addition to the out-of-the-box social media capabilities that often come with modern DXP platforms, there are also a variety of plug-ins available that can further extend and customize these capabilities.

3. Mobile channels reach millions

Your DXP product may look good on the desktop computer screen, but without a mobile platform you are missing out on millions of mobile users. Mobile phones have migrated from voice communication devices to ubiquitous pocket computers. According to Statista, by 2020 there will be nearly 258 million smartphones in the U.S.

Add a mobile version of your DXP platform to fit the small screen and expand your marketing base exponentially. Again, customers expect their mobile applications to be as excellent and friendly as the hardware they use.

4. Portal or gateway access gives users a passport and the warm feeling of security

Web portal software can create the following interface points for DXP:

  • Customer portals to create transactions and access documents and information online
  • Partner/agent portals to help field agents, partners, and franchises become more effective by accessing proprietary and personalized information
  • Business process portals to access and track complex business processes

A cloud-based DXP needs a web portal that both locks out hackers and performs the handshaking crypto-rituals to open the locks.

5. Search functionality adds power to DXP web pages and applications

Pathways to built-in search functions handling customer queries are tools to win the race between customer engagement and the impatience of today’s users. Adding a search application to a DXP portal allows drill down. The drill down must go through content types, tags, as well as categories the user specifies to refine the search. The search application can be placed on a page or be a link to allow users to do a web page content search.

6. Rich Internet Application Tools supercharge DXP

RIAs are web applications having similar characteristics of desktop application software. They add functionality to DXP with tools like Adobe Flash, Java and Microsoft Silverlight. As the name implies, these tools provide a “richer” experience for DXP. RIAs provide movement, user interactivity, and more natural experiences for everyone accessing the DXP. Add a sense of time, motion, and interaction to a DXP, and the users will stick around and enjoy the experience.

7. Collaboration and meetings make the enterprise go ‘round

Collaboration suites can resonate with other DXP apps to promote excellence in communication. They are message boards for team discussions, blog platforms and meeting software to add to your inventory of rich content.

Use document management to collaborate, brainstorm, and produce quality content.  Plug in meeting software for worldwide, real-time worldwide, face-to-meetings and conferences with real colleagues and customers at a fraction of travel costs.

8. Analytics software provides an eagle-eyed view

The best way to improve user experience is to know who, how many, and the characteristics of those who visit your DXP.  You want to know how your site or service is performing, who is back-linking to you, and to be able to dig into gathered statistics for visitor regions.

Analytics also provides a dashboard view to do the business intelligence magic of process measurement and customer behavior. A DXP partnered with analytics is the foundation for moving to artificial intelligence.

9. Backend management is your behind-the-scenes DXP management tool

Backend technologies help you manage your DXP or web application, site server, and an associated database. Backend developers need to understand programming languages and databases. They also need to understand server architecture.

On the other hand, as they say, “There’s an app for that.” DXP users can access backend manager technology in the cloud through MBaaS offerings. 

Conclusion: DXP is not just an eclectic collection of software

The platforms described above can work together to solve the biggest challenge enterprises face in the digital age: customer obsession. Companies are undergoing digital transformation in every area from business process to customer analytics. DXPs can bring all that together and re-engineer business practices to be totally customer oriented.

Digital transformation is the challenge. DXP is the solution.

Recap of Liferay Symposium North America 2016

Posted by on October 03, 2016

The annual Liferay Symposium North America was held in Chicago recently, where the trending topic was getting to the heart of the customer experience. In two session-packed days, Liferay Symposium brought together the brightest thought leaders to share why they’re succeeding at deeply personalized customer experiences, where digital transformation is going next and how Liferay is taking them there.

If you weren’t able to attend this year’s event, Liferay’s Live Blog provides a great recap of both Monday and Tuesday.

Here are some of our highlights from the event…

Our booth is set up and ready to go!

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We sponsored this year’s After-Party and decided to do something different by taking it off site. It turned out to be a huge hit, as attendees got to enjoy a relaxing cruise along the historic Chicago River.

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after-party

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We’re honored to receive a Community Excellence Award that recognizes our commitment and ongoing contributions to the Liferay community. Congrats to all the Pulse Award winners!

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And last, but not least, one lucky raffle winner got to walk away with this autographed Jim McMahon jersey!

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Creating Better Employee and Customer Experiences with Liferay and Crafter

Posted by on June 21, 2016

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The modern customer’s needs are ever increasing as they want information combined with the convenience of interacting with your brand whenever and wherever from various digital touchpoints and devices. Meanwhile, employees are demanding digital experiences that facilitate rapid information access, communication and enterprise collaboration.

To meet these demands, organizations are leveraging Web Content Management (WCM) solutions such as Crafter CMS to help deliver consistent and personalized experiences throughout the customer journey. And internally, portal solutions such as Liferay Portal are being used to address a variety of social business and collaboration needs.

But what happens when you want to share the same content across both internal and external sites? Is integration the key? While many organizations are realizing the business benefits of an integrated solution, it’s important to keep in mind that integration isn’t always the answer, and when it is, the approach taken can determine your implementation’s success.

Understanding Platform Differences

Gaining a clear understanding of how each technology can be used for addressing various business needs means recognizing what each technology is under the hood.

At a high level, Liferay Portal is a multi-tenant, site-based platform, allowing the creation of multiple sites — including websites, portals, social collaboration environments, e-commerce, big data solutions, and mobile apps. The sites are built with Liferay’s portlets, all of which sit under the Liferay umbrella, meaning these sites are being published to the web by Liferay.

Crafter CMS, on the other hand, is an enterprise WCM tool with robust content management features — including user-friendly content authoring, in-context preview, workflow, multi-channel publishing, versioning, and content delivery.

Architecturally, Crafter is very different from Liferay in the way content is delivered. Crafter employs a decoupled architecture, where content authoring and delivery occur separately. Crafter’s authoring component, Crafter Studio, is where all the authoring takes place, along with content being managed in an Alfresco repository.

Unlike Liferay, where publishing occurs within itself, Crafter publishes to a completely different environment through Crafter Engine, the delivery component. Crafter Engine is able to serve content to virtually any channel, whether it’s a website using any front-end framework (PHP, .NET, Java, etc.), mobile app, or other third party system. This is the fundamental difference between Crafter and Liferay, and understanding this is a vital part of knowing when to integrate or not.

Perspective Differences

Liferay and Crafter are both powerful platforms that can be used to address a variety of business needs, including many similar, overlapping use cases. This overlap creates confusion around when to use each of these tools and if they should be used together. We’ve seen organizations integrate these products for the wrong reasons, which result in a lot of wasted effort to correct those mistakes.

Determining if your business will benefit from using these two products together requires you to think about perspective. Based on your business needs, if you see a lot of overlap between the two products, then one platform should suffice and it’s probably not a good idea to integrate. However, if there isn’t much overlap, then integration makes much more sense as it allows you to leverage each solution’s strengths.

The amount of overlap really depends on your unique requirements and what you’re trying to accomplish with your website(s). Keep in mind that much of this is attributed to how websites and content management has evolved over the years and its affect on marketing’s needs. Today’s organizational websites have grown to become much more complex, often involving multiple sites that are then integrated with other enterprise systems, such as marketing automation, CRM’s, e-commerce, and analytics to provide a richer end user experience.

The key consideration here is the total number of web assets your organization has. Are you a small organization with just one website, or a large enterprise with a global presence with hundreds of web properties to maintain?

For smaller organizations with only one website, then either Liferay or Crafter on its own is fully capable of addressing most, if not all, content management needs. However, it becomes more complicated when it comes to larger organizations with more sophisticated digital experience needs that typically involve many different sites and touch points.

In the latter case, an example of an integration pattern that doesn’t work is when Crafter is being used solely for managing all web content, where the entire site is then published through Liferay as the front end. This pattern fails because Liferay controls its own look and feel, so trying to control it outside of Liferay breaks its architecture.

When there are multiple sites involved, it only makes sense to use both Liferay and Crafter when Liferay is just one of many delivery channels. An example would be an organization using Liferay for its employee intranet and Crafter to manage its global and regional websites. When the organization wants to publish content that needs to be delivered across all websites along with the intranet, that’s when it makes the most sense to integrate.

In this use case, Liferay manages its own intranet page. Within the page is an area that’s managed by Crafter that enables access to enterprise content while still adapting to the look and feel of the intranet.

 integration-patterns

This decoupled architecture, where content is separate from delivery, also makes it easy to expand and add additional delivery channels (mobile, social, etc.) for true multi-channel publishing. We’ve found this to be a great integration pattern for organizations that desire the flexibility to scale.

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To summarize, Liferay and Crafter are both very powerful at the platform level. If you’re thinking about integrating the two, it’s counter productive to perform a feature by feature comparison. Instead, design your solution based on your use case and not by focusing on features, as many different technologies will have the same features, but address each use case differently. And remember that integration isn’t always the answer, so do your research to understand the pros and cons. When done right, integrations can yield tremendous long-term benefits.

 

Customer Highlight: LifeCare – Delivering Dynamic Customer Experiences With Liferay Portal

Posted by on April 15, 2016

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Every customer project comes with its own set of challenges, but at the end of it, when everything’s running smoothly in production, it’s always exciting and rewarding to look at the finished product and see the positive impact it’s making for each customer.

Our latest case study tells the story of how we helped LifeCare, an industry leader in providing employer-sponsored work-life benefits to over 61,000 enterprise customers, improve overall customer experiences using a solution built on Liferay Portal.

As an industry recognized leader and innovator in Work-Life, LifeCare was the first in the industry to launch a work-life balance website. However, the existing Work-Life site was running on a 10+ year old homegrown legacy system that presented a slew of challenges, including a cumbersome site updating process and outdated design.

To maintain itself as an industry leader, LifeCare performed a complete overhaul of their Work-Life site, and chose to build the new site on the Liferay Portal platform. Liferay not only supports a modern responsive design on the front end, but also content management capabilities, effective delivery of LifeCare’s content and services, along with easy integration on the back end.

Working closely with LifeCare, Rivet Logic helped architect an innovative solution that supports sophisticated white labeling capabilities for LifeCare’s customers, allowing delivery of heavily personalized content without compromising on site performance requirements.

The new Work-Life site now offers a customized experience for LifeCare’s enterprise clients with improved functionality. And for LifeCare, giving control of the content publishing process to the business users meant more frequent updates and fresher content, while freeing up valuable time for IT to focus on other strategic initiatives.

Read the full case study to learn more!

Awesome Customer Experience Begins with Customer Context

Posted by on April 01, 2016

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With 68% of all Americans owning smartphones, it’s no wonder that many companies place a huge emphasis on mobile first. Yet from Starbucks to Uber, companies are realizing what matters are screens, not devices, and these mobile app driven companies are quickly adding complimentary web apps to create a better customer experience. The “context first” focus is the next wave of customer experience design that will soon replace mobile first as the leading approach to customer experience design. This smarter, more seamless design caters to the best of both worlds (mobile and web) and helps designers break away from designing for mobile by removing functions previously created for large screens.

Mobile is Not Enough

Simply put, mobile first is really a design strategy and not a complete method of approaching customer experience. It, in fact, limits the scope of the overall customer experience. While the optimal screen size is still a moving target, and there is fast-paced change concerning which screen size is best for varying contexts, it really all comes down to access to consuming and publishing information. From screens on wrists to tablets and notebooks, information via screens and not devices is the overarching concept that the “context first” design solves.

Customers, be they B2C or B2B, want a buying journey synchronized with their daily life as they interact with a brand’s products and services through numerous touchpoints and varying contexts (other than mobile). When companies stick with a mobile first design they miss out on key opportunities for customer engagement. A recent Gallup poll indicated that engaged customers buy 90% more frequently and even wary customers will give more money to companies they feel emotionally connected to – while ignoring others.

Context First Design

Servicing customers in a way that takes advantages of the situational context of use will create a better customer experience every time. Whether this means eliminating steps to speed up the process or, adding a step or two to enable the customer to easily broadcast their activities to their social circle, all depends on the objectives at hand.  For example, most people don’t take their laptop to the beach and no one is creating the board deck from their smartphone, so considering what screen is best for input and what screen is best suited for output can make all the difference. The ultimate goal, of course is to help the customer achieve their intended objective in a way that delights in their current context.

Context first is significant because it focuses on why a customer is engaging with a brand or company and allows companies to respond to each phase in a customer’s decision journey as well as the customer’s interaction with technologies outside of mobile. Additionally, it gives companies a broader lens of customer content and valuable customer data to better drive engagement and deliver a highly personalized, responsive and more ubiquitous customer experience.

Imagine the possibilities for the customer experience and top line growth of a company with the ability to completely address all context drivers to further engage customers and enhance their experience.  Context first opens doors for brands that were once closed by mobile-first thinking.