by Isaac Sacolick

How to drive digital customer experiences with your CMS and CRM

Nov 21, 2016
CIOContent Management SystemsCRM Systems

CMS and CRM are key systems used to improve customer experiences, and CIOs that develop capabilities on these platforms can play a significant role driving digital.

You might be asking, “What is driving digital,” or more broadly, “what is digital transformation?” Most importantly, how should CIO approach this opportunity to either lead the enterprise’s digital strategy or at least have a significant role in driving the transformation? How can CIO expand their role beyond back office technology steward to front office growth enabler? Understanding the difference between these two objectives is critical for CIO to be successful in their role and for the future of their business.

Different surveys are showing varying metrics on who is leading these efforts. For example,. Gartner is very favorable to CIO showing that 34 percent are led by CIO/IT, but Altimeter’s 2016 survey shows that 34 percent are led by the CMO and only 19 percent by the CIO.  If it’s not the CMO or the CIO, then it’s likely that the CEO or Chief Digital Officer is driving the digital strategy and priorities. The person leading it must have researched market opportunities, interviewed key customers on their needs, and demonstrated successful transformational change across the organization. 

Regardless of who is leading the effort, success only comes through execution especially around new practices, technologies, and culture. That’s why having leaders that can truly “Drive digital” is critical, and I believe that CIO with skills and experiences leading initiatives, introducing new business processes, and driving financial benefits through technology are best to own the overall execution.

Digital transformation start with customer experience

What’s different about digital transformation compared to other enterprise programs is that it’s a growth and survival strategy. It targets developing new digital businesses and maturing digital capabilities around existing products that must deliver amazing customer experiences. Your customers and prospects have overwhelming options selecting products, services and partners that can address their needs. Products with simple experiences that deliver value will attract new customers while ones with inferior experiences will likely lose out over time. 

The transformation often begins by articulating a digital strategy from understanding customer needs, identifying target markets, defining customer segments, and building out personas. Each persona defines a specific user type with different needs, values, and expectations. The objective is to redefine simplified digital and real-world journeys for each persona that addresses their needs and demonstrates value.

What do journeys look like? Digital paths may show how a prospect responds to a social media campaign, reviews interesting content on the website, and fills out a form requesting more information. You might have a customer that makes a purchase in a store, then comes online to request technical support. If implemented correctly, the underlying systems are capturing the source of the activity, metadata on any content consumed, and the result of any actions. All of this information is used to extrapolate a persona and optimize follow up interactions and experiences.

Digital experiences driven by CRM, CMS, and analytics

What CIO should realize that many of these journeys flow through systems they already manage. The journeys will likely be triggered through marketing activities, flow through the corporate website, and directed to a sales pipeline. Technologies such as the marketing automation platforms and tools, CMS, analytics platforms, and CRM are some of the core systems most enterprises need to invest in to drive improvements. In fact, a recent CMSWire poll identifies these as the top technologies used to improve digital customer experience.

In that same survey, only 25 percent report that they are going to be reusing existing technologies, implying that many businesses are reconsidering new platforms and tools that drive digital experiences. Many will revisit their CMS platforms to see if they are easy to use, mobile friendly, and drive desired business outcomes. It’s likely that marketers will want to review content publishing workflows, and enhance analytics to ensure that data on the full user’s journey is captured.

Even if a new CMS isn’t the objective, it’s likely the organization will consolidate platforms if multiple ones exist, upgrade versions, enhance the implementation, or integrate data with other enterprise systems. This should be good news to CIO seeking business cases to drive ROI, increase usage, and standardize technologies.

Enterprises likely have CRM platforms selected, but digital transformation often requires improved forecasting, more rigor around sales pipelines, and additional analytics. These can be addressed by establishing workflows, training users, and enabling a data driven culture.

CIO must drive deep into practices and analytics

To be successful, CIO must fully understand current usage of the existing platforms and recommend what changes are needed to drive winning customer experiences. In the report, Defend, Disrupt, and Transform: The Critical Role of the Marketing Technologist in the Digital Era, CRM, analytics, web design, and CMS as the most important job skills to the future of the marketing function. If these are the skills and platforms required, CIO have the opportunity to drive the priorities, practices, and skill enablement in these functional areas.

That’s one way CIO can drive digital.