Why Integration Won't Solve Your Customer Experience Problem

Why Integration Won't Solve Your Customer Experience Problem

Elizabeth Crouch
Elizabeth Crouch

The integration platform-as-a-service (iPaaS) market is expected to top nearly $3 billion in the next four years — a huge number.

That’s because iPaaS is addressing an equally huge challenge felt across the board by enterprises, companies that are in the process of digital transformation, and even digital-first startups where teams are tasked with making more data-driven decisions.

The Problem

Customer data is generated with every interaction — and it’s on you, as a marketer, an ops person, a product manager, an engineer, an analyst, a C-level executive — to stitch that data together into a meaningful picture of a customer’s end-to-end experience.

With workflows siloed by systems, it’s difficult to understand all the touchpoints that make up a customer’s experience with your company — and even harder to drive rapid iteration and optimization on end-to-end customer experience.

Even if you’re dumping all your data into a customer data platform (CDP) and analyzing it, you still have to act on that insight. You have to surface recommendations for workflows that span teams and applications, and actually operationalize the customer experience improvements you’ve targeted. Generally, this requires a lot of back-and-forth between teams, and a lot of budget for implementation.

The Solution: Integration?

The traditional approach to integration is to push data from Point A in your CRM to Point B in your data warehouse, or to use a one-off signal in your CRM to trigger an action in your marketing automation platform. But if you’re only passing on packets of information, without a stateful record of customer experience in every system that they’re interacting with, how can you create a meaningful, personalized experience?

Furthermore, what happens when your underlying source systems change? When you switch email service providers or CRM systems? When you move from on-prem systems to the cloud? Even “future-proof” integration providers can’t rapidly adjust to big technology swaps on your end.

These are the fundamental challenges that informed Usermind’s architecture — why we built an orchestration platform, rather than an integration platform.

Why Traditional Integration Approaches Don’t Work

Using traditional approaches to integration and automation, individual customer interactions aren’t served up to your business teams in the context of their broader experience or journey.

Even if you can connect all that siloed customer data into a single view of the customer in your CDP, you probably have automated workflows or logic spread out between systems, too. Those workflows operate based off static triggers, maybe with a few filters based off the customer’s current status.

Drip emails and stateless workflows will keep on dripping and working until you shut them off. They don’t provide the context to know everything about every customer, in every system. Managing conflicting workflows and spaghetti code across multiple systems can be terribly frustrating for you, and result in downright crappy experiences for your customers.

Delivering a Seamless Customer Experience is a Complicated Technology Problem

Ever received a promotional email or a net promoter survey while you were in the middle of an unresolved support issue? No one wants to be sold to when they’re already frustrated.

Integration alone doesn’t address the root of the issue: Your systems of record aren’t coupled with your systems of action.

It’s difficult to feed insights from your customer data platform back into systems of action to rapidly improve customer experience.

Frustrating customer experiences happen because there isn’t a stateful record of a customer’s overall history in each system, and there’s no home for the overarching workflows that span multiple systems and touchpoints (e.g., customer onboarding, customer service escalations, online trial optimization).

Your customer’s journey is measured off the success of individual touchpoints — an email click, a sales call, or whatever else is tracked in the application serving the experience. Tracking overall success becomes a complicated attribution problem. And the success of each individual touchpoint still may not add up to overall satisfaction with your brand or product.

The Real Solution: Adaptive Integrations + Unified Customer Record + Journey Orchestration + Experimentation & Optimization

The difference between integration and orchestration is context — awareness of a customer’s full history at every step of the experience you’re building.

We built Usermind to unify all of your customer data. Why? So you can operationalize and optimize the long-lasting journeys that drive business outcomes like engagement, retention, and revenue.

With Usermind, you can do this in four steps:

  1. Bi-directional, adaptive integration. We built our platform to provide more intelligent, adaptable integration than iPaaS providers. It doesn’t matter whether you use Zendesk or Desk.com for customer service, Segment or a home-brewed data warehouse. When you connect an application or database to Usermind, the schema and metadata of your source systems are automatically ingested, and continuously fetched. With two-way syncs, you can selectively push and pull data from one system into another, and use it to drive journeys across systems. Best of all, all it requires is an OAuth token, API key, or a little help from your sysadmins — no dev work required.
  2. Map customer data into a single view. With entity mapping in Usermind, you can associate fields and objects across systems to build a unified customer record — with context about historical interactions and current journey stage. Why is this important? With all of your historical customer data defined across systems, you can power complex, state-aware interactions in any connected system.
  3. Journey orchestration. You can build relevant, personalized journeys based on the context of what your customer has already experienced. With Usermind’s natural-language rules engine, you can implement workflows that involve signals and actions in multiple systems (e.g., customer onboarding, online trial optimization, customer service escalations).
  4. Analytics and optimization. Measure the business outcomes of specific customer journeys, and get actionable insight on how to improve them. Because you can immediately take action in Usermind, your experiments can drive rapid optimization, without having to wait for costly engineering implementations.

Here’s an example of a simple orchestration we could set up through Usermind:

  1. The minute a customer files a complaint, they’re automatically removed from nurture workflows and marketing campaigns.
  2. If the ticket isn’t resolved within a certain timeframe, the case gets escalated to an actual person.
  3. When the rep reaches out to the customer, the customer’s complete transaction and support history is already available in their customer record — so the rep doesn’t have to ask what the problem is, and can help the customer resolve the issue faster.
  4. When the ticket is resolved, they’re automatically put back into marketing workflows.
  5. You get reporting on how long a customer was stuck in any stage of the journey, and customer records in your CRM and CDP are automatically appended with new information.

iPaaS is helpful when it comes to moving data around between applications or pumping it into a data lake. It can even be helpful for triggering simple workflows that don’t need reporting fed back into the initial systems of record.

But to optimize customer experience and maximize the associated business outcomes, you need journey orchestration.

Elizabeth Crouch
Elizabeth Crouch
Senior Marketing Manager at Usermind

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