Of what do you think when you hear the phrase, ‘customer experience’? Most immediately presume a reference to the interaction a customer has when they engage a vendor or brand. While that’s certainly not incorrect, it’s a very limited view when considering the multi-dimensional aspect of a customer experience with a cloud-based software vendor. In cloud enterprise software, there are four critical ingredients of a great customer experience. Leave it to an Egyptian to represent the four items as a pyramid :-).
1. Software Quality: the robustness and innovation of the software itself.
A customer’s experience with a cloud vendor is first and foremost based on the quality of the software. The word ‘quality’ is admittedly very overloaded with meaning: the innovation of the software vis a vis the competition, the richness and robustness of the feature set, and the dearth of bugs and/or product defects. It’s this broad notion of quality that underpins any great customer experience since, despite the importance of the customer service model itself, it is the software product that is at the heart of the solution purchased. It is impossible to build a great customer experience on a low-quality software product (please hold the Microsoft jokes :-)).
2. Platform Stability: the hosting and operating of the software.
The arrival of the cloud certainly complicated customer experience because, unlike premise-delivered software, part of the service the vendor is offering its customers is the platform which delivers the software in a reliable, secure, and highly-available manner. Once again, it’s impossible to build a great customer experience on software that is frequently inaccessible.
3. Service Experience: the quality of interactions with the company.
Software quality and platform stability, together, form the technology foundation that underpins a great customer experience. It’s only after those two ingredients are nailed that a vendor can really begin to claim a genuine focus on the next sensible ingredient of the recipe: the service experience itself involving interactions with the vendor around any service-related issue. Service experience is the ingredient most think of when hearing the phrase ‘customer experience.’
In the enterprise software space, this typically involves human-to-human interaction between the customers’ and the vendor’s staff. Service experience is all about knowledgeable people providing an efficient, friendly interaction that addresses customer requests.
4. Business Value: the ability of the software & services solution to impact customer business.
But it doesn’t stop there. A great customer experience isn’t just about the service experience, it’s ultimately about business value derived from a cloud solution: the ability to move the customer’s key performance indicators (frequently referred to as ‘KPIs’). Whether it’s related to cost savings, productivity, revenue increase, or flow of operations, a great customer experience is built upon a cloud vendor’s ability to move the business needle of its customers.