Effortless experience in practice: the architecture behind great customer interactions

Nov 25, 2020
  • sales, marketing and service
  • people
  • IT

Remove friction to boost success, for customers as well as employees: that’s the core of ‘effortless experience’. But what does that mean for your enterprise architecture and software infrastructure? Which tools should you use, and how should they interact? How can data move through the organization in a way that empowers employees and delights customers? Software architect Wim Meerschman sketches out an elegant and powerful solution. 

“The quality of customers’ interactions with a company depends on a complex interplay between various components: employees, business processes, data, and technology,” says Wim. “Today, these different dimensions need to work together more than ever to a) make customer interactions as frictionless as possible and b) make it as easy as possible for employees to provide those expected levels of service.”

Two traditional approaches

How your enterprise architecture is set up is key here. Wim explains the two approaches that organizations traditionally take: “First, there’s the so-called ‘best-of suite’. In this case, the enterprise relies on an all-in-one experience platform. The drawback here is that heavy customization is almost inevitably needed, since all businesses are unique in the way they operate. In many cases, they end up with one solution on which many add-ons are built.”

Graph ERP & PIM-DAM systems

“The second approach we often see is the ‘point-to-point integration’. “In this case, a number of best-in-class solutions are deployed to fit the business’ – and its customers’ – needs.”

In Wim’s view, none of the above form the ideal technological basis for creating effortless experiences. “In both cases, there is a lot of complexity, high risk of data replication and difficulties implementing a single source of truth.”

Customer architecture

Enter the omnichannel hub

His counter-proposal? Creating a single point of integration with backend systems, or an ‘omnichannel hub’. “The idea behind the omnichannel hub is that it integrates business and user data and acts as a service hub for marketing and sales,” he explains. “In essence, you’re adding a layer to your architecture while reducing complexity for end users.”

Customer architecture

The omnichannel hub consists of:

  • the operational data store, which aggregates product data from different systems and makes the content presentable for the upper layer;
  • the customer data platform, which contains complete customer insights and segmentations;
  • a transaction service, which contains all data related to orders, quotations, etc. and, as such, lifts a heavy burden from the ERP.

Switching into high gear

But what makes the omnichannel hub such a compelling approach for forward-thinking companies? “Lots of businesses today are still held back by legacy solutions, for example when it comes to their PIM,” Wim explains. “When they want to create a more attractive customer platform offering up-to-date product info, for example, they first have to change their PIM solution, which involves a pretty significant implementation process, training, change management, etc. This can take a lot of time.

“With an omnichannel hub in place, however, they can simply put the old PIM data in its operational data store, and get started with the customer platform – or website, or app, or whatever solution they choose – immediately. This means they can provide customers with the service they need, while updating their legacy systems at their own pace in the background. In these unprecedented times of rapid digitalization, that’s one hell of an advantage.”

How could the omnichannel hub free up your business to make strides towards the future while strengthening its legacy foundations? Get in touch!