Exponential technology changes combined with the explosion of all things Internet have many companies scrambling to meet the demands of today’s empowered consumer. CEOs and senior execs are stepping up efforts to build their digital enterprises. However, amid the ever-changing technology landscape, CMOs are finding it may take up to five years to implement a robust customer relationship management (CRM) system.

The lengthy time it takes to implement a CRM system poses huge risk, as the system may fail to meet future needs. A  study released by Adobe reveals marketing has changed more in the past two years than in the past 50. The pace of change is going to accelerate—not slow down.

With constant changes, lengthy implementations, and organizational barriers, how can a CMO strategically spend the technology dollars so the needle moves in a measurable way? I recommend leap frogging the technology silos by creating a flexible and adaptive digital customer interaction layer. Below are 10 reasons companies should build such a bridge, not a whole new system.

1)       Customer Centric Capability

A digital interaction layer enables a transparent flow of data, information and content between disparate systems and streamlines communications within the enterprise.

This gives companies access to data that customers and sales channels need. Done right, the interaction layer integrates social media and mobile devices so a customer can quickly interact with a company’s brand from anywhere.

Customers will experience a self-service and mobile-friendly website that lets them control their own experience. Underneath the friendly interface, the software enables customers to conduct their business when, where and how they choose.

2)      Personalized Customer Experiences

Similar to the next-best-action technologies used in a traditional CRM system, business rule engines and other enabling technologies within the digital interaction layer can deliver well-timed, targeted offers based on customer data. Some targeting examples are:

  • Up-selling or cross-selling other products in a personal customer welcome/on-boarding website.
  • Delivering targeted service coupons and offering customers the ability to pay bills online or manage account information.
  • Providing timely and relevant information to individual customers about options available to them, as they come to the end of their vehicle lease term.

3)      Speed to Market

A flexible and powerful digital interaction layer does not require long, drawn-out IT changes. This approach focuses on system integration, not the type of programmatic changes a CRM system requires. Within a year, a CMO can quickly create the ability to target, cross-sell or upsell, and provide customers the seamless experience they seek.

4)      Meets Security Requirements

The legacy systems still handle data processing and security. The digital interaction layer simply requires that the internal IT teams make secure connections available for the software to leverage data. Typically, internal IT staff can have the connections ready in less than six months.

5)      Cross-Channel Interaction

It’s easy to create coordinated cross-channel campaigns with email offers that drive customers to a personalized URL/website (e.g. www.brandname/janedoe). This approach allows a business to deliver the entire experience responsively, ensuring optimal content and functionality regardless of the type of customer device. With the adoption of mobile devices on warp speed–some 34 percent of Internet users use their smart phones to go online—the ability to adapt to a customer’s preferences is huge.

6)      Decreases Costs

This type of nimble marketing automation can create significant cost savings opportunities through reduced direct-mail or customer-service costs, while at the same time providing a superior digital customer experience.

7)      Measurable Results

By its nature, a digital customer experience layer is inherently measurable. Because the visitors engage through a website interface, it’s easy to collect the metrics and perform ongoing analysis. This enables you to make quick and strategic changes as needed. Overall, the flexibility of the solution allows you to learn and adapt rapidly.

8)      Adaptive Technology

The consumer demand for online channels is rapidly growing, and the landscape is shifting at an unprecedented rate. A Forbes article provides great detail about the constraints marketing professionals experience in implementing a CRM philosophy and the slowness with which systems are updated. Bridging the gap between the business and the customer with a nimble digital customer experience layer allows a business to launch, learn and adjust as the landscape shifts. Without this layer, marketers risk being behind the eight ball with consumer expectations.

9)      Happy Customers

In the past three years, web self-service usage has increased 18 percent. And 66 percent of customers say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good service. Delivering a highly relevant and targeted digital customer experience adds value to the customer’s online self-service experience, while increasing customer loyalty.

10)   Increases Revenue

While customer focus needs to be first, it is ultimately all about the bottom-line: generating revenue. Currently, ChannelNet is managing more than 10 million websites that were designed using our digital customer interaction layer approach. Our clients not only see reduced costs and increased customer satisfaction, but also typically realize at least a 5 percent increase in their customer retention rates.