Business Transformation

Legacy infrastructure: How to overcome the CX challenge

Removing legacy barriers to digital transformation

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Transforming customer experience with customer communications management

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One size no longer fits all in customer communications. Customers expect brands to be present in the channels they occupy. They expect immediate responses to their enquiries. They expect brands to understand and remember their previous behaviours, and to personalise communications to their preferences. Delivering omnichannel communications like this is reliant on deploying modern customer communications technology that enable personalisation, automation, and a data-driven communications approach.

The challenge of legacy

However, businesses in highly regulated industries, such as financial services, insurance, telecoms and utilities, have often struggled to keep up with the pace of change. They are restricted by cumbersome legacy systems, software and hardware that present barriers to the adoption of the latest CX technologies.

Indeed, research[1] found that 23% of marketers cited “legacy technology and infrastructure” as the most significant barrier to a better customer experience – above organisational structure (19%) and a lack of focus on customers’ needs (15%).

[1] https://econsultancy.com/customer-experience-thwarted-technology-stats/

Step-by-step transition

But older infrastructure is not an insurmountable hurdle. It’s important that businesses acknowledge that CX, like any other business function, can’t be transformed overnight. The process of updating legacy IT should be approached as a step-by-step process. Most businesses are already operating in a hybrid IT environment where older legacy systems and processes are used alongside new, more innovative IT and applications. To drive progress, businesses need to identify and seize opportunities to update CX capabilities, without causing disruption to daily business function. Ultimately progress should not come at the cost of damaging current customer experience.

Process for transformation

In this complex landscape it can be challenging to identify how to prioritise budget spend and which aspects would deliver most benefit from transformation. The first step is to put the customer at the heart of the decision, investing time into reviewing CX from a customer’s perspective. At which points will they encounter complexity or delays? Is there a pattern to when customers are unsubscribing from communication, or complaining about their experience? Are customer preferences recorded and taken into account? What consumer communication channels are popular, or on the verge of becoming so, which are not offered by your business?

By putting the customer first, businesses can ensure that their transformations are driven by what will truly improve CX, rather than by a desire to tick boxes or keep up with competitors.

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A collaborative project

It’s often assumed that legacy infrastructure is an IT problem, but this simplifies the issue. How can IT be expected to optimise infrastructure for CX, without having an in-depth understanding of the CX industry or the business goals for this area? As the CX experts in the business, marketers must work as part of cross-functional teams with IT to identify how technology transformation can be translated into a better customer experience.

As part of this process the teams should create a CX roadmap based on the legacy infrastructure in place, prioritising ‘quick wins’ and focusing on the areas that will achieve the greatest ROI.

Here, the IT manager acts as a consultant, problem-solver and integrator, advising on what new software can be implemented while ensuring the lights stay on for legacy, business-critical systems. Having the right IT expertise is essential to making positive change happen, but it’s only through collaboration with marketing that transformation will deliver against CX goals.

Playing to your strengths

The CX transformation process requires patience and a clear set of priorities. In determining these priorities, it’s important to work to your organisation’s strengths.

What traditional businesses lack in agility, they often make up for in depth, sitting on sizable banks of data built up over decades of operation. If this is the case for your business, one priority should be the application of new machine learning algorithms to your data, which will help to extract valuable insight about existing customers.

These new customer insights will put your business in a stronger position to offer personalised, data-driven communications that target the right channel with the right message at the right time.

Transformation in the hybrid organisation

In reality, almost every business is now a hybrid organisation. The long-term goal of such businesses should be to build an agile IT infrastructure that enables the business to gradually respond to emerging CX trends while maintaining their existing, business-critical systems.

Legacy infrastructure can be seen as a barrier to delivering the always-on, personalised experiences that the modern customer increasingly expects. But with a clear CX roadmap in place, cross-function collaboration and prioritisation of change programs that will have the greatest impact on ROI, the barrier can be overcome.

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