- September 5, 2017
- Posted by: Cathy McKnight
- Category: Business Transformation, Customer Experience
Remember dating high school? All the cliques; the cool kids, band geeks, jocks, punks, gamers, stoners, artsies, metal heads, … If you were part of one group it was difficult, if not impossible to get to know, let alone date, someone in another group. Dating at university, while not so segregated, was tough – there were so many more people, how could you possibly navigate through the hoards to find that one special person?
The world of customer experience management can seem like a blend of both those worlds; the cliques – systems integrators, digital agencies, marketing agencies, creative agencies, … And then throw into the mix the myriad of technologies that can be used in your quest of the ultimate customer experience management (CEM) strategy – web content management system (WCMS), marketing automation platforms (MAP), customer relationship management (CRM) systems, … It is no wonder that companies whether they are just starting, or planning to start, down a CEM path, or are already part way there, where ever “there” is, don’t know what do to next. With literally thousands technology options out there, and even more service providers, there is virtually endless partnership possibilities.
That is why it makes sense to follow a few simple steps before bringing home a potential service provider and/or technology partner home to meet the parental units, a.k.a. the C-Suite.
Know what you want and need; and recognize the difference.
Ask yourself, and your team, “Why do we need a partner and/or technology?” What business problem are you looking to solve: Is there a lack of skillset that a digital agency could fill? Is your current WCMS’ so far in the weeds that replacing it is the only way to meet your functional requirements? Or perhaps the extent of your CEM strategy so far is learning how to spell CEM and you need a digital agency to help you every step of the way?
Whatever the pain point pushing the decision to pursue a new partner and/or technology, having clarity in what it is you seek and why, and validation that it is truly a business need is critical to filling that need.
Date in a group setting
It is important in a long-term relationship that you get feedback and input from your friends and family. Same thing goes in business. Assemble your stakeholders: IT, marketing, product management, content editors, commerce, implementers, visionaries, and doers to help you refine your vision of what the new partner(s) need to bring to the table. Like any relationship, it will impact more than just you on a day-to-day basis, so it’s essential to collect requirements from across the organization.
Know what you bring to the relationship
You absolutely want to find a partner that aligns with your business from a cultural and project approach (e.g.: Agile vs. Waterfall). But you also want someone who complements what may be lacking or just developing within your own teams from a competencies and SME perspective. Finding the Ying to your Yang.
This includes looking at past relationships and recognizing what went right and what went wrong, and why. We all dated the “bad boy” or “popular girl” before recognizing what we were really looking for in “Mr./Ms. Right”.
Stay focused and look to the future
It is easy to be swayed by a suave (sales) line or a pretty (inter)face, but staying focused on the requirements you and your team have developed is critical to staying on track to finding the best-fit partner. Envisioning your future with this new partner is also an important step. Sure, the partners you are considering meet your current needs. Will they be able to deliver what you need tomorrow, as well as help you figure out what those needs are? What about next year? Or three years from now? Is the partner you are considering able to be that long-term relationship, or are they more suited as a short-term fling? Either may be the right path forward, but you need to be sure so that you don’t end up with regrets, or worse, a huge divorce bill.