We already know that customer insights teams work across multiple departments, collaborating with different teams and collating a multitude of data sources. A CX system can help make sense of all of this incoming information.
But finding the perfect tool (or tools!) to help you manage all that chaos can be a struggle. And the options are only increasing: the global customer experience management market size is expected to reach $23.6 billion USD by 2027 (a 17% year over year growth rate!). This growth, according to Grandview Research, is mostly being driven by three business needs:
- Increased customer expectations, and a need to expand and measure CX across multiple touchpoints.
- Improvements in technology, including AI and text analytics, that help businesses uncover more actionable insights.
- A need to make sense of the wealth of information and feedback coming from customers who are sharing their opinions on review sites and social media.
Your CX and insights tech stack will need to meet all these requirements if you want to beat out the competition. Is it worth trying to build your own? And if so, what should you be building?
Does The Perfect CX System Exist?
Every organization will have its own CX tool stack. Whether your workflows revolve around Salesforce or a spreadsheet, how you manage your customer feedback will be very different from the company next door.
This can make it very difficult to find a CX tool that works exactly how you want it to; connecting seamlessly to all of your different systems and churning out the insights your executive team are looking for.
Because of the complex and unique needs of each team, many companies may consider trying to build their ideal system.
However, building and maintaining a proprietary system comes with its own challenges.
Maintaining a Proprietary System
Project teams have a finite number of resources. Every minute spent working on one project is time that is taken away from another priority. And while a CX tool is important, maintaining one is extremely time-consuming. As your company grows, your needs will change. This may result in continually updating your proprietary solution, or implementing an entirely new one.
When considering a custom-build CX system, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do we have the expertise on our team to build and then maintain this tool
- Do we have AI, data science and customer experience expertise in-house?
- What is the estimated length of time this tool will take to build? Would we get a better return on investment using our engineering team elsewhere?
- How will we stay up to date with the integrations and tools that we need to connect into our system?
- Have we factored in the ongoing maintenance costs that come with keeping a custom software solution running?
- How will we prioritize feature requests for this tool?
Using the SaaS approach
Alternatively, the recent focus on customer experience has meant an increase in the number of tools available. Plus, many of these have been built using an API-first approach in mind. This makes it easy for companies to integrate their own tools (data warehouses, survey tools and CRMs) with the SaaS platform they choose to implement. It also improves flexibility, because adding a new reporting tool or importing a new data set can be done without the need for engineering.
However, SaaS tools can seem more expensive. Paying an annual software license fee for something that you can potentially build in-house may not suit every company.
Secondly, if you have extremely specific needs for your CX systems, you might struggle to find the perfect, already-built solution. Do you want to tailor your CX workflow to the standard customer experience platforms?
Build vs Buy
“Answering the build versus buy question is always a tough one,” says Derek Homann, Founder of Median. “I normally ask myself two questions when deciding which is the best route for our company."
First, is the software we are looking at buying better than something we could build ourselves? And secondly,
what amount of resources would it take to build it instead of implementing a pre-existing solution we’d buy elsewhere?”
Deciding which approach is best for your company requires thoughtful consideration. What stage is your internal product in? Do you have the resources required to build another product? Or do you even need to? There are many well-developed, flexible platforms available on the market today which might suit your needs.
How to Orientate Your CX Systems
Whether you ultimately decide to build or buy, there are a few best practices to consider when positioning your new CX system. Your platform will need to integrate into a number of different software tools and data sources. It will need to be secure, but accessible to the right people. Keeping the following tenants in mind while you implement your CX system will give you the most value.
Single Source of Truth
Everyone, from sales to customer service to finance, should be making CX decisions off of the same data set. If each function is looking at different data sources, they are likely to come to different conclusions. And that’s not to mention the trouble of keeping multiple databases accurate and up to date.
Consider using a data warehouse solution as the storage component for your CX platform. It will act as a single source of truth for your data, pulling all of your sources together. Each of your CX tools that make up your CX platform (and even other software) connect to the warehouse to get a consistent view of your data.
If this isn’t possible then you can always consider making your CX platform your single source of truth, but you do need to be careful (see the next section!)
Key to any successful CX program is good sources of customer data. This is data generated by your customers through interacting with your product or service. It is proprietary and critical to your continued success in providing a stellar customer experience!
Given how valuable this data is, you need to treat it with the care and forethought you would of any other critical business asset. It should always remain under your control to use how you please. For this reason, you should be very wary of storing your data with an external software vendor and risk losing control of that data. You don’t want to be in a position where a vendor can dictate what you can and can’t do with your data and how much they will charge you for the privilege.
Whether you build or buy your CX platform (or perhaps even do a mixture of both), consider separating the data storage component away from the rest of the platform. Ideally, store the data in using a software system that is under your control and has well established APIs (there are many great data warehousing solutions to help you with this). That way, the rest of your chosen CX stack, including any software you develop in house, can connect to that data to provide you additional data. This will help you avoid any vendor lock in and has an added secondary benefit of being that single source of truth!
You could always compromise and store a copy of all your data in a system you manage but still use your CX platform as the single source of truth. In certain circumstances, this could prove to be more convenient. But remember, your customer data is a critical business asset that holds immense value!
More and more products are being built with integrations in mind. An API-first CX tool opens up the opportunity to connect with other apps or data sources. Think of it as a control panel with plugs connected to a vast array of other systems. Whether you’re pulling in data from a survey, your CRM or customer conversations, the control panel can analyze and organize your data.
APIs can also connect your CX tool to reporting tools. Create dashboards and democratize your CX data to ensure that every department has access to easily digestible data in the format they need.
At Kapiche, we connect with a number of data storage platforms, including Snowflake’s Open Source APIs, which allows you to pull in data from almost any source you can think of. Data is stored securely, but it’s easy for your team to access when needed.
Your customer experience needs will change over time. Will your system accommodate those changes?
Finding, or building, a system that is adaptable is critical to the long term success of your program. Ideally, changes could be made without the need for code or a system rebuild.
For example, Kapiche’s text analytics work on any text regardless of where it was collected. Chat logs, survey responses, social media comments can all be used to get a better understanding of what customers are thinking. And the AI algorithm doesn’t need to be retrained or reprogrammed each time a new data source is added - the tool does the work for you.
The customer experience tool of your dreams
Whether you build it or you buy it, the CX system will define how you listen to and act on your customer’s feedback. It becomes the brain for your operations, allowing you to be more customer-focused and make decisions based on data.