March 22, 2023

3 min

Avoid Common Pitfalls When Implementing a Customer-Centric Management System

Frictionless engagement throughout the customer journey is the goal, but many organizations need help to get there.

A significant shift in customer relationship management is underway as companies move away from the “marketing funnel” toward a more continuous “loyalty loop.” Customer expectations and advanced tools designed to manage both short- and long-term customer relationships, such as ServiceNow, are helping to drive this change. Some traditional CRM tools or contact center software have focused on the initial customer contact or outreach, which can make it easy to overlook the importance of all the customer interactions that occur post-purchase and the internal complexity required to support those needs. However, companies must pay attention to the complete customer experience to stay competitive today.

Companies know CX is important, but they may need help to improve processes from a CX perspective or to create a culture of CX awareness. When companies struggle to improve CX, it tends to be because they need to follow some important principles. First, all parts of the organization must work together to deliver a frictionless experience. Second, companies should simplify before they automate, mapping persona journeys and re-engineering processes instead of simply moving old methods into a new tool.

Interconnected Systems Drive a Better Customer Experience

When a company’s systems don’t talk to each other, customers often pay the price. In many cases, when organizational leaders think about CX, they focus only on the most visible systems, such as front-office staff or omnichannel contact centers. But what about all the people, systems and processes behind those interactions?

For example, suppose a bank teller provides a customer with excellent service, but when the customer calls the bank with a follow-up question, the person who answers the phone knows very little about the recent interaction, leading to delays and frustration. To prevent these poor experiences, CX must encompass an organization’s entire operation to ensure that every part of the company is connected to the same systems and information.

Rethink Processes Before Moving to New Technology Platforms

When organizations invest in solutions such as ServiceNow, they often transfer existing processes to the platform and expect the technology to reinforce better workflows and outcomes. The problem is that companies often don’t know where their processes originated. They may be legacy creations of a former employee, or perhaps they were tied to a specific software tool that’s no longer in use. When processes aren’t great to begin with, simply repeating them in a new system doesn’t work very well.

Companies must understand that exceptional CX requires not only a new platform but a transformation. This transformation should include people and processes, and it may lead to other changes in roles, organizational structure, how people do their jobs and lots of best practices learning to get the most out of your new tool within the right context. This gets tricky when people confuse “easy” with “simple,” because easiness doesn’t always equal simplicity. Transformation processes must be intentional and well planned to reflect internal complexity while outwardly simplifying the experience for the customer.

Organizations often believe it’s impossible to simplify the thousands of processes users touch daily, and to be sure, business transformation has its limits. Still, it likely can — through innovation and automation — reduce them to a much smaller number that means less chaos and more productivity. For instance, “Service Definitions” in ServiceNow’s Content Management Database and Customer Service Management applications can enable any fulfiller to see, in real time, the environment of a customer and update it in a simple interface that has a complex, downstream impact on multiple systems. It also allows users to see the right list of catalog items (such as forms, user interfaces, announcements and workflows) relevant to them, instead of a generic, confusing portal. When companies develop these capabilities, customer satisfaction and personalization become much more feasible, and they will enjoy using your product even more.

Simplification may be the overall goal of CX initiatives, but organizations are complex, and CX journeys must allow for that. This is why many companies benefit from the help of an expert partner as they tackle CX processes to build a scalable yet effective journey. Experts in advanced CRM platforms and digital transformation can help companies make the most of their technology investments by benchmarking their performance against industry standards and working toward them. A partner can also help re-engineer processes based on best practices and implement a customer-centric product that allows for complexity to exist without disrupting the overall CX strategy.

Story by Fernando Castro Alvarez, the CDW portfolio manager for customer and industry workflows in the ServiceNow Solutions organization. He is responsible for creating products and solutions that allow for scalable and customer-centric implementations of CIWF ServiceNow apps, supporting business development efforts and enabling CDW teams as a senior subject matter expert and lead technical architect for the CSM/FSM/Industry catalog of service products. He has worked for over a decade in the ServiceNow platform helped implement within almost every industry with many partners. He was part of the few first customer service management implementations for various Fortune 50 companies and has since provided best practices, feedback and innovation for the product teams with ServiceNow. He is a “UX as a Framework” and design thinking evangelist, leading seminars and publishing white papers on the topic.