In this CIONET Trailblazer episode, Serge Craeghs, Managing Partner at Digitalum, part of the Alan Allman Associates ecosystem of niche experts, shares his insights and lessons learned on achieving success in the world of customer experience (CX) and e-commerce. From working with major B2B and B2C brands, Serge distils practical experience into seven undeniable truths.
1. Low Rates or Low TCO: Decide Wisely
In the realm of e-commerce and CX platforms, the choices abound, each promising an exceptional digital experience. However, the complexity of customer-facing platform design requires a fundamentally different expertise and approach than traditional back-office system development. Many have been lured by system integrators offering low-day rates and offshore development services, only to discover that the short-term financial gains have little impact compared to long-term costs and quality issues. The bottom line takes a hit. A pitfall to avoid.
2. Think Global, Start Local, Scale Smartly
We see companies with global ambitions often make the mistake of implementing a versatile platform locally, without laying a common foundation for future expansion. Ignoring the potential for scalable, reusable components dramatically impacts time to market, TCO and maintainability. Avoid the conundrum of having to maintain identical codebases or costly rebuilds by emphasising templating and reusability from the start. A well-defined roadmap is your compass.
3. Challenge Your Partners to Elevate Your Game
Beware of service providers who merely execute your requests. In the niche domain of e-commerce CX, having a partner who challenges your ideas and applies best practices is crucial. Experienced partners know when and how to ask the right questions, ensuring short and long-term success. They communicate proactively, provide realistic planning, and have your back, ultimately benefiting your organisation.
4. Beware of Unrealistic Promises: If It Sounds Too Good...
A realistic budget estimate demands a comprehensive understanding of the features of requirements. Be cautious when a party presents a fixed-price bid without thorough discussions. Such scenarios often lead to missed deadlines, suboptimal team composition, and shortcuts that compromise quality.
Tip: Compare budget and deadline promises critically against other proposals to avoid being ensnared by unrealistic commitments. Because if it sounds too good to be true, history has shown us on several occasions it mostly is.
5. Innovate, Don't Duplicate: Customer-Centricity Is Key
Copying your offline organisation into the digital realm seldom serves the customer experience. Many clients replicate internal structures in their digital platforms, inadvertently hindering the online customer journey. Start from a customer perspective, break down silos, replace organisational politics with data-driven decisions, and unlock an abundance of opportunities to enhance conversion, average order value, recurring revenue, and customer loyalty.
6. Invest in Success: Build In-House Expertise
While consultancy offers valuable expertise, organisations with explicit roles and internal support for CX and e-commerce tend to achieve higher success rates. Their self-reliance post-launch is enhanced, minimising dependency on external development partners. Balance internal and external support for optimal results.
7. Don’t Drown in Tech Options: Let Needs Drive Decisions
A multitude of cloud solutions support marketing automation, CX, and e-commerce, from traditional monoliths to MACH-based architectures (Microservices-Based, API-First, Cloud-Native, and Headless) and hybrids. Don’t be swayed by flashy terms; focus on your specific needs. While MACH architectures have their merits, they may not be necessary or even suitable for your organisation. Identify your requirements before diving into tech choices.
In conclusion, businesses today aspire to drive customer engagement, loyalty, and revenue growth through exceptional digital experiences. To accomplish these goals, they need a versatile, integrated platform and a knowledgeable partner. Remember, these truths serve as guiding lights in the complex landscape of CX and e-commerce, and they invite us all to think critically and innovate continuously.