What is Customer Experience Management?

Customer Experience Management

Customer Experience Management (CEM) is a popular topic presently and people have used many different words in an attempt to define Customer Experience (CX). After much debate, Forrester research reached a consensus to define it as the way customers perceive their interactions with a company

  1. CEM strives to treat the customer as a valuable asset. According to ARAMAK Education, CEM can be broadly defined as the process of managing all personal interactions and events making up a customer’s experience
  2. Customer Experience Management helps to determine the customers’ experience through the management of ‘touchpoints’ or interactions with everyone who comes in contact with customers. It does not look at customers in general but focuses on the needs of individual customers.

Importance of Customer Experience Management

According to Forrester’s Bruce D. Temkin, customer service is a very hot topic because of 3 primary reasons. It is:

  • Important: Executives generally agree that CX is crucial for their businesses and studies have shown that good CX is highly associated with customer loyalty.
  • Complex: In spite of its importance, only 12% have established clear strategies that cut across their organizations.
  • Broken: Studies show that many customers are not satisfied with the experience they get from many businesses. Forrester’s 2007 Customer Experience Index showed only 10% companies received an excellent rating (3).

Some of the benefits of a good customer experience include:

  • Building Customer Loyalty: For any business to grow, it must not rely on one-time customers who never come back. Repeat customers are what make a business really profitable. For example, about 80% of Starbuck’s revenue is generated from loyal customers who make an average of eighteen monthly visits to the company’s stores.
  • Better Pricing: Satisfied customers will be prepared to pay higher prices for a company’s products or services. The products the customers receive must be functional and the customers’ experience must be emotionally rewarding.

Implementing CEM

Businesses need to focus on 3 things when implementing CEM.

  • Focus on customer needs instead of product features.
  • Reinforce brand with each interaction.
  • Take each customer experience to be a competence instead of a function.

Challenges of CEM

In spite of its centrality to the success of businesses, implementing Customer Experience Management has its own challenges. One of the major challenges businesses face is lack of a unifying platform to manage customer interactions across all functional areas.

In addition, it has not been easy to create personalized and dynamic user interfaces because of technical limitations.

Customer Experience Solutions

Different customer experience solutions have been created to overcome these challenges. The solutions help in providing relevant process models, information technology and strategies necessary for designing, managing and optimizing and all-round customer experience process.

A good CEM system can manage multi-channel interactions to address cross-touchpoint, cross-lifecycle and cross-channel processes. Creating an effective end-to-end customer experience requires the integration of external and internal innovations.

In a nutshell, a good CEM system helps firms to look at their operations from their customer’s point of view. They give the customers the opportunity to create their experience.

Further reading:

1. Harley Manning. Customer Experience Defined. Extracted on October 24, 2011 from http://blogs.forrester.com/harley_manning/10-11-23-Customer_experience-defined
2. ARAMAK Education. Customer Experience Management. Extracted on October 24, 2011 from http://www.aramakhighered.com/assets/
3. Bruce D. Temkin. The Customer Experience Journey.

What is Web Experience Management?

Web Experience Management Overview

Web experience management (WEM) is a term given to software that businesses employ to enhance their online technological capacity. The term may also apply to the process or companies providing similar service. Those using the service can manage their own websites more effectively. Changing information posts online becomes an intuitive process that can be handled easily at the click of a mouse. Satellite servers allow clients to process much greater quantities of data swiftly.

The services WEM provides help companies provide a better web experience for their own clients. The cloud server’s enhanced capabilities allow companies to interact more freely with customers not only through traditional computers but also through the many brands of mobile devices from which many people now make online contact. This includes mobile phones, iPads, laptops and other devices. WEM facilitates social networking with clients but offers many other services as well that help business generate leads and develop client lists.

Businesses that Benefit From WEM

There are many businesses that can benefit from the enhanced capabilities of web experience management. Virtually anyone who maintains a website can enjoy the ability to make changes and follow customers through social media. This includes both businesses and private individuals. Some organizations that have a great deal to gain from these capabilities include the following.

  • Financial services
  • Retail
  • Travel
  • Entertainment
  • Healthcare
  • Media

Enhance Your Web Content

Greater online business requires that you maintain fresh web content to attract return visits from clients. Complex media and social interaction must be tracked in order to get the most benefit from these services. Web analytics is important to turn contacts into genuine leads and companies need the tools to perform these functions quickly and effectively.

WEM provides these kinds of services, though it may be called other names. These include customer experience management (CEM) and web content management (WCM). Regardless which phrase is used, the software can provide your business with tools to optimize your customers’ online experience, enable you to locate and post new content on your site, and provide important analytical tools to derive the greatest benefit possible from your online contacts.

Benefits of WEM

WEM can help manage multiple complex websites, access global markets, or create flawless automated marketing programs. Specific benefits include improving the following online functions.

  • Targeting the right demographic for your products and services can be challenging and WEM can help you optimize your strategy.
  • Tools will enhance your ability to interact with customers in other forums such as social media and also to reach employees anywhere within your organization.
  • Analytical tools will help you determine whether your web content is creating the desired effect.
  • When changes are needed, you will be able to locate new content and edit your site easily. It will also be easy for other employees to use the functions so tasks can be delegated to enhance productivity.
  • You can more easily build an online community from which to draw repeat business and generate leads.

There are a number of different brands of software from which you can choose to implement a WEM strategy within your business. The only major disadvantage is that it may take some time to train employees in how to implement the procedures. Most are very intuitive, however, and are easy to understand. New employees can learn very quickly how to locate relevant content for your site and update information very quickly. Once everyone is trained in the new procedures, your response time for addressing complaints or countering negative information posted online will become much more efficient.

Further reading:

What Is An Open Source Content Management System?

Content Management Systems

Before understanding what open source content management is, it would be helpful to establish a description of a content management system. Content management systems are used to do exactly what their name implies. They are designed to manage content.

Types Of Content

The content that is managed by a content management system can be almost anything. Some common content management systems allow users to input and manipulate articles for web pages. However, this does not even begin to describe the extent of content management systems.
Video or audio files can be stored and manipulated through content management systems. This can make it much easier for the user to find, share, and organize these types of files.

Images or entire documents can be stored and retrieved through content management systems. Some systems may allow these to be manipulated, as well. Other systems may only provide a basic system for store, retrieval, and organization.

Benefits Of Content Management Systems

  • Users can easily add, remove or manipulate content. These types of systems generally provide secure access for multiple users. After being given the desire amount of access, these users are able to add content, instead of one person entering all content.
  • Data and content is easily stored and retrieved in an organized manner. Depending on the security desired, all users may have easy access to all content. Or, users can be divided into groups that have varying amounts of access to the content. Either way, users are able to easily store or retrieve the content to which they have been given access. Content management systems generally include a way to organize content so that it can be easily found.
  • There is a uniformity that exists. Generally, a content management system will provide a level of continuity. Different pages on the site will look similar. Navigation menus will work the same throughout the entire site. Both content contributors and visitors are able to easily navigate through the site, because the components look and behave similarly.

What Is Open Source?

Open source software is when the source code for the software is made available to the users. Users are able to change the code so that features can be added or removed from the original software. Open source is not the normal way of distributing software. Generally, software is distributed in a way that users are not able to make any changes to the software.

Why Use An Open Source Content Management System?

In most cases, software is originally created by someone who is very knowledge about computers and programming. These people may know very little about the individuals or industry that will actually be using the software. They may develop this software, based strictly on their own research of what people in this industry want. The end result can be that many important features might be left out of the software. Users are left waiting for the next update and hoping that these features might be included at that time.

With open source software, any user who has an adequate knowledge of the programming language can make changes to the software, without waiting for updates. The people who actually use the content management system on a daily basis can decide what features are important to them. They can upgrade the software as needed to create the perfect solution for their needs.

What is a Learning Management System?

Learning Management System Overview

A Learning Management System, or LMS, is a software product that makes available to people training programs and examinations. An LMS can be as simple as delivering course information or as complex as managing the entire learning process.

A complete learning management system will do the following:

  • automate all administrative tasks such as registration, tracking attendance and recording exam results
  • give the user the ability to manage their own information and reporting
  • include a structured way to deliver training material easily and quickly
  • allow the system to expand easily as the need for more resources increases

Who Uses a Learning Management System?

Colleges and universities use an LMS to support classroom instruction and to make the material available to a broader audience (i.e. Distance Learning).

Organizations use an LMS to provide continuing education to their members.

Corporations use an LMS to train new staff, deliver mandatory course material and to facilitate the appraisal process.

What Can a Learning Management System Do?

Learning management systems are tailored to an environment. The requirements of a college or university and of a corporation have some overlap as well as some unique characteristics.

Some of the common needs that an LMS can fulfill are:

  • user, team and role management
  • classes, instructor and facilities management
  • report generation
  • management of the course calendar
  • documentation of the learning path for individuals
  • messaging and notifications
  • administration of testing

Some unique requirements in the corporate environment are:

  • staff enrollment in courses required by their title or location
  • integration of course history with performance systems for use in appraisals
  • grouping of staff by department, location or product

Learning Content Management System (LCMS)

One aspect of an LMS is management of the content (course material). Sometimes a separate software application called a Learning Content Management System (LCMS) is used. This software will integrate with the LMS and will control how authors enter course material into the system, make changes, and present it to the student.

Common Issues when Implementing a Learning Management System

There are certain challenges associated with implementing an LMS:

  • Integration with Human Resources (HR) – More effort and duplication of information can occur if an LMS does not connect to the existing HR system of a company or registration system in a college.
  • Ease of content management – The easier it is for authors to enter and/or change course content in an LMS, the higher the quality of the course material.
  • Flexibility of Configuration – The LMS must be easily configured as the needs of an organization changes. When departments are added or consolidated, school divisions are created or deleted, or entire programs need to be divided or merged, the effort to make these changes in a LMS should be easy and intuitive.
  • Security – It is important to be able to accommodate access by participants outside of the company, non-members of an organization or students from various schools while protecting the company’s content.

The Challenges of Education with a Learning Management System

The use of an LMS facilitates learning by an individual anywhere at any time. What is most often missing is contact with the instructor and other students that would normally be available in the classroom.

Companies and organizations can mitigate this through the use of study groups, user forums and open sessions where the instructor is made available for questions.

Further reading:
Wikipedia: Learning Management System: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learning_management_system
“A Field Guide to LMS”, Ryann K. Ellis, Editor, Learning Circuits, 2009, American Society for Training and Development

What is Cloud Computing?

The Rise of Cloud Computing

While many people get confused upon hearing the term cloud computing, the fact is that some of them have actually been in the cloud in one way or another without even realizing it. How many people have been sharing such types of data as documents, photos and even email online? All these are actually part of cloud computing on a personal level.

The concept has really nothing to do with going to the cloud. It simply means that data is stored in such a way that it is readily accessible and transferrable from one place and/or device to another. People are not limited to particular physical locations or devices in accessing and using different types of data. The Internet is the “cloud” referred to here.

Why Use Cloud Computing?

People have different reasons for using cloud computing, with the most common ones being:

  • Having the ability to access relevant data from anywhere so long as there is an Internet connection.
  • Outsourcing the responsibility associated with maintaining applications and servers.
  • Having predictable and regular operational IT expenditure instead of incurring occasional heavy expenditures.
  • Scaling systems either down or up depending on current needs.

Cloud computing also helps to address under-utilization challenges where many servers are run at a small fraction of their capacities, leading to power and monetary losses.

Common Terms

Different terms are often used in cloud computing. Here are the most common ones to help demystify the concept.

  • Virtualization: This is where special software is used to separate 1 physical server into different parts that operate like independent servers. Different users are allocated these virtual servers for their own uses, where they can store their data in the cloud.
  • Software-as-a-Service (SaaS): These are basically services available via web browsers. Google Docs is a good example of SaaS.
    Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS): This is where companies provide other businesses with virtual servers using the pay-as-you-go system. An example of IaaS is Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) from Amazon.
  • Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS): This is where providers of cloud computing offer such low-level services as web servers, computer language interpreters and operating systems to allow developers to build applications. Examples of PaaS include Google App Engine and Microsoft Windows Azure.
  • Rich Internet Application: RIA takes advantage of the rich graphics, fast script engines and plug-ins in modern browsers to run particular applications just as if they were installed in a local computer.

Cloud Computing and Business

While people have been using cloud computing for some time, what is relatively new is applying it for business purposes where it creates a more collaborative environment.

Many large businesses are already conducting their operations in the cloud, including Starbucks, Pathwork Diagnostics, Infosys, Best Buy, Digitaria, Virgin America and Wang Fu Jing Department Store.

Challenges

Cloud computing also comes with its own challenges, including:
• Regulatory conflicts by storing data internationally.
• Security concerns.
• Possible loss of service because of problems on the part of the provider.
However, these issues can be addressed in various ways, including using high-level encryption technology, carrying out backups and building in redundancy.

 
Further reading:
1. IBM Smart Cloud. Cloud Computing. Extracted on October 12, 2011 from http://www.ibm.com/cloud-computing/us/en/
2. InformationWeek. Real-World Cloud Computing Applications. Extracted on October 12, 2011 from http://www.informationweek.com/blog/229205982

What is a Knowledge Management System?

Knowledge Management

During the last 20 years, a new technology known as knowledge management has emerged inside large institutions both public and private aimed at taming the tidal wave of internal and external information large-scale organizations must wade through on a daily basis.

What is Knowledge Management?

Knowledge, of course, is the total experience and findings of individuals, and management is a set of strategies for dealing with a system. Put the two together and you’re left with a system of ensuring the insights and discoveries made by individuals inside an institution are made known or at least available to the people who need them when needed.

While the concept of knowledge management, or KM, seems obvious, it wasn’t until 1991 the idea was formalized. Since that time, many large corporations and other institutions have adopted KM systems in the form of codified rules and strategies for the collection, storage and distribution of knowledge, and hired staff dedicated to running them.

Why Use a KM System?

The amount of knowledge generated in the Information Age is staggering. Having to rediscover facts, finding new sources for information or coming up with solutions for problems others have already solved can be costly and time consuming.

To avoid this loss of productivity, KM experts have devised four stages of knowledge development they use to create KM systems:

  • Creation
  • Capture
  • Storage
  • Dissemination

This structured approach facilitates KM by allowing users to know when new knowledge has arisen, how to codify it in a form useful to others, where to gather the new knowledge as a single unit and how to find old knowledge when answers are needed for problems or topics that have come up previously.

What Are the Benefits of KM?

Simply put, time spent searching for answers cannot be spent on other tasks. If employees, students, or clients must repeat research that has already been compiled elsewhere, there is a genuine loss of time and money that could have been avoided. Many companies have found this to be so true they have dedicated entire departments to KM, often going as far as hiring a CKO or chief knowledge officer.

KM can also provide better workplace safety by ensuring employees in critical positions are kept current on the latest techniques and insights. Techniques are quickly and accurately disseminated to people who can put them into immediate practice. Training new employees becomes easier. New products move to market more quickly. Innovation becomes easier to achieve, and expertise for which companies pay top dollar is put to work in as broad an area as possible.

How to Implement KM Systems

Building a KM system begins with assigning the task of overseeing the system, either to an existing employee or hiring a knowledge manager. A database is established for the storage of knowledge and contact information for available experts, and policies are then put in place to offer incentives for those who contribute to the knowledge base or which make such contributions mandatory.

Companies may find the task overwhelming at first due to the shear size of the undertaking. Often, managers find it difficult to know where to begin. The quickest and most efficient way to overcome these initial difficulties is by hiring an outside consultant or by bringing on a new employee with previous KM experience.

Further reading:

What Is A Course Management System?

A System For Organization

To some, a course management system may sound similar to a content management system. It is true that a good course management system will include a content management system. However, the course management system goes much further. Course management software is used in the field of education. It can be used for classes that are conducted entirely online. However, it can also be used for a hybrid type of class that combines the online environment with the face-to-face experience. A course management system provides a way for students and instructors to interact with each other. The instructor is able to add content that is relevant to the course, while students are able to access course information, submit assignments, collaborate with fellow classmates, and possibly even take online quizzes.

Main Components and Usage

Basically, a course management system consists of a method for delivery of a class. The instructor is able to provide systematic instructions for completing assignments. At the very least, the students will have a way to submit their completed assignments. Most of these systems will also offer some type of discussion board so that students can interact with each other and conduct discussions about the topics. Depending on the complexity of the course management system, the instructor may be able to use online grading rubrics and enter grades into an online gradebook. The instructor may even be able to set up automatic quizzes, which offer immediate feedback to the students, as they are taken.

Benefits

This type of course management system can be very beneficial to the educational entity. The same system can be used for all instructors and all classes. This allows for a continuity across the school. Administrators can be given the ability to log into any classes. This allows for a random supervision that ensures the best possible quality of instruction.

The system is also beneficial to individuals. Because of the continuity of instruction, students can better understand what is expected of them in each course. Generally, the technology involved allows for much faster feedback that the student would receive in a face-to-face environment. However, one of the benefits that is most mentioned is the ability to attend classes at any time or any place. The student simply must have a way to access the Internet. With the advent of WiFi hotspots, Internet access is fairly common, no matter where the student ends up.

Possible Issues And Solutions

One of the first issues that may be encountered is an inadequate knowledge of technology. If instructors and students are not familiar enough with technology, they may find themselves unable to fulfil their responsibilities in the class.

There are a few ways to solve this issue. First of all, most entities have a training requirement for instructors. During this training, they may access the course management system, as if they were a student. However, this training provides them with the knowledge they need to be able to fulfill their own responsibilities, as well as give advice to the students.

Secondly, many of these educational entities may also have a requirement for students to attend some type of orientation classes. These classes may also be conducted through the course management system. However, the focus of the class is on learning the technology, instead of other academic subjects.

Finally, depending on the size, the entity may need to have a well-trained technical support department. This department can help with any issues that arise from the course management system.

What is a Contact Management System?

Contact Management Systems

A contact management system is a device or software program used to organize and store contact information. It is typically used by businesses and more often than not referred to as Contact Management Software, or CMS. Contact information includes phone numbers, addresses, dates and important notes. It is similar in many respects to a personal information manager, but designed to be used by businesses that have to keep track of their clients, associates and other various contacts.

Business Benefits

Businesses of all types can benefit from a CMS. Instead of having information on scraps of paper, in roladexes or in files, all pertinent information can be stored in the CMS. Individuals can then search for the contacts by using their name, phone number, address, etc. It is important to note that a CMS is often used by sales representative, customer service representatives and telemarketers who need contact information quickly and easily. Having a CMS helps these individuals save time, and therefore money, when it comes to looking up information for individuals. Instead of looking all over, users are rewarded with one point from which they can look up all kinds of information.

The software and systems in and of themselves are fairly simplistic. Therefore it is important to note that there are no real common difficulties of implementing a CMS. However, since it is a software program there are certain things to consider: what type of device will the software be running on? It will need to be compliant, such as Windows or Linux capable. How many users will need to access the program? If it will be accessed by multiple individuals, consider a CMS where many users are allowed access to the software and its contents. When choosing a contact management system, consider the individual needs before making a purchase. In addition to individual needs, it is important to make sure that the information is entered correctly. A CMS will not help people if they cannot search by or find the accurate information. When implementing a CMS it is important to make sure only accurate, correct information is put it. If the information is likely to change often, make sure that users can make adjustments accordingly.

In addition to contact information, it is possible for a CMS to generate sales specific reports, depending on the system implemented. Again, this is an option that will need to be considered by prospective buyers. Such reports often allow for individuals to track the activities of their sales teams and customer service representatives. Another option is the addition of a photo, to help individuals literally put a face to the name with which they are working. These are options available with certain models and versions of contact management systems.

One of the most vital options to a CMS is the automatic backup feature. This helps to make sure that the files are safe and updated even if there is a problem with the computers or something happens in the middle of an entry.

All of these features are important to consider and some versions do not have the capabilities that other models or versions have. This is why it is important to consider all variables before making a purchase. The technology itself does not often lend itself to problems, but this is assuming that users do their homework first: making sure they are capable of running such a version and making sure that it has all the features they need or desire. If this is done, the software or system is beneficial and highly efficient, helping promote a functional, effective work team.

Implementing an Enterprise Content Management System

Selecting and Integrating an Enterprise Content Management System

Enterprise content management (ECM) systems assist companies in reaching their business goals with greater efficiency. An ECM will record, file, store and save all unstructured information into a managed, taxonomy system. The ECM represents integrated enterprise-wide management of the life cycles of recorded data when supported by the appropriate technological and administrative infrastructure. The proper and complete planning of an enterprise content management system will allow a company to implement the variety of changes necessary in incorporating a new document management system. Continue reading Implementing an Enterprise Content Management System