Customer Engagement Hub (CEH)
Definition of Customer Engagement Hub (CEH)
Gartner defines Customer Engagement Hub (CEH) as "an architectural framework that ties multiple systems together to optimally engage the customer." A CEH allows personalized, contextual customer engagement, whether through a human, artificial agent, or sensors, across all interaction channels. It reaches and connects all departments, allowing, for example, the synchronization of marketing, sales and customer service processes.”
Contact center became an obsolete concept with the introduction of customer engagement hub (CEH) which provides an architectural framework through which multiple systems engages with the customer. It also provides synchronization among various departments for example sales,marketing etc. so as to optimally engage the customer. With the aid of customer engagement hub (CEH), not only services are been provided to the customers but also predictive analysis been used to predict the next best information, action to engage the customer. Customer engagement hub (CEH) will force many companies to reexamine their CRM systems and to revamp them in order to offer customer engagement. Customer Engagement Hub (CEH) system will be having capabilities such as intelligent routing, personalized services and interactive media response. Companies looking to engage customers from increasing number of channels including social media, telephone, email etc. and to overcome the complexities involved in handling these increasing number of channels will force them to move towards the added advantages offered by customer engagement hub (CEH) solutions and will drive the market. On the basis of geography, customer engagement hub (CEH) market can be segmented into seven key regions namely North America, Latin America, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, APEJ, Japan, and Middle East & Africa. Among various regions, the customer engagement hub (CEH) market in North America is expected to dominate during the forecast period because of the region being a hub of companies from the field of retail, banking and IT vertical. North America region is expected to be followed by Western Europe and APEJ. APEJ is expected to drive the demand for the customer engagement hub (CEH) solutions, supported by increasing penetration of manufacturing companies in the region. Increasing complexities involved in servicing the customers from increasing number of channels supported by additional features offered via customer engagement hub (CEH) solution such as predictive analysis so as to better engage the customers are factors which will drive the demand for customer engagement hub (CEH) market. Initial investment cost involved in the implementation of customer engagement hub (CEH) solution will affect the growth of customer engagement hub (CEH) market.
The Need for Customer Engagement Hub (CEH)
The fragmented marketing stack and the data silos that accompany it are two of the biggest barriers facing the modern marketer. By deploying a customer engagement hub that takes an open garden approach, marketers are able to conquer both barriers simultaneously, empower their teams to make better decisions with more complete data, and gain an adaptable solution that will embrace innovation with new technologies as they arise. Of all the reasons to implement a CEH, three of the most powerful are:
- To orchestrate omnichannel interactions at the speed of the customer: The modern customer lives an omnichannel life, effortlessly switching between channels throughout their purchase journey. Brands need to be able to do the same. Customer engagement hubs and other open garden solutions enable that capability by creating a central point of control to orchestrate customer journeys, across both digital and traditional touchpoints. Brands that leverage a CEH can react at the speed of the customer and provide contextually relevant engagements regardless of channel.
- To integrate and operationalize customer data across channel-specific and functional silos: Fragmented technology stacks lead to siloed customer data. One of the core functions of a customer engagement hub is to provide a unified 360-degree view of customer data across silos. Brands have long attempted to do this, but traditional data management technologies such as data lakes and data warehouses are ill-suited for the demands of a modern marketing team – particularly lacking in data precision, speed, and accessibility. Such is the power of a CEH; to unify data into a central customer profile and operationalize it at the speed necessary to engage the omnichannel consumer.
- To maximize your marketing technology investment: Some Customer engagement hubs adopt what is called an “open garden approach” to marketing technology. What this means is that the CEH is installed on top of your existing technology. All your current solutions tie into the hub, which eliminates the expensive and time-consuming re-platforming of an all-in-one marketing suite. The open garden approach of a CEH also makes it futureproof, allowing you to link any future customer engagement technology into your architecture via standard or customizable API connectors.
Steps to a Next-Gen Customer Engagement Hub (CEH)
According to Olive Huang, research director at Gartner, "For an end-to-end customer experience across channels and departments, IT leaders must build a CEH. Only a CEH can connect employees across departments, employees with customers, and customers with their peers, while also managing and optimizing personalized customer interaction.” Gartner has developed a 10-step approach to help IT leaders plan their next-generation CEH.
- Discover Improvement in Customer Journeys: It is of paramount importance that IT leaders focus on the customer journeys that result in the most customer engagement interactions. To do this, they need to map customer journey steps and touchpoints to the communication channels.
- Define Business and IT Imperatives: Translate the identified issues and opportunities into business and technology imperatives. It is likely that the opportunities will enable departments within organizations to “act as one,” so that, for example, personalized content is delivered to the right channels, according to customers’ preferences and contexts.
- Secure a Project Owner and Budget: Two of the key challenges organizations face are that no one “owns” the CEH, and that those who will benefit from it may not have the budget or power to make decisions. As a result, IT leaders need to establish operational ownership and budgets for the CEH project.
- Build Departmental Collaboration: IAs CEH projects emphasize cross-departmental discipline, IT leaders must investigate processes and tools to enable direct connections between people across the organization, and to enable them to complete tasks more quickly.
- Take Stock of “As Is” CEH Components: It is important to have an overview of the types of technologies the organization already uses to interact with customers, the people using them, and the people supporting each function or customer touchpoint. A CEH will tie together operational CRM systems, communication infrastructure, business rules, relevant information and analytics.
- Identify Technological Convergence: A CEH needs to be “fit for purpose”. Its design principle should reflect the key improvements and business results that the organization wishes to make to determine the business and IT imperatives.
- Develop Integration Strategy: Organizations must reshape their integration strategy for a bimodal and self-service delivery model. Gartner refers to the desired strategy as a “pervasive integration” strategy, which will help an organization meet the growing number of integration requirements: application-to-application, B2B, cloud service, mobile app and, increasingly, Internet of Things.
- Establish a Two-Tiered Approach: Planning a CEH requires the development of a two-tier approach: one for the duration of the implementation stage and one for ongoing operations. For the implementation stage, IT leaders will need to identify and prioritize issues and opportunities in the CEH landscape that require bigger investments among others. For the operational approach, IT leaders will need, for example, to build in-house competence in customer journey mapping, and establish reporting, escalation and organizational collaboration mechanisms for a central view of improvements.
- Plan for the Change: Gartner uses the term “big change” in view of the big efforts that could alter business operations as a result of significant levels of novelty, volatility, disruption and scope. IT leaders should identify the risks and opportunities that may arise from these four factors of big change and determine the effects they may have on change management efforts.
- Design the Measurement of Business Impact: Ensure that key performance indicators and metrics are part of the CEH design. The key metrics to reflect the business impact need to be monitored, reviewed and sometimes adjusted as part of the operational quality parameters.
Building blocks of the Customer Engagement Hub
Customer Engagement Hubs need to be fit-for-purpose. It should offer a blueprint and approach to integrate every channel, every enterprise application and connect it back to the core of any business – the customer. There 5 key building blocks of Customer Engagement Hub:
- Get Your Design Right, First: Many customer experience challenges that can be attributed to poor design. In other words, there are gaps that exist between what customers expect and what is actually delivered to them. These gaps can be either people, process or technology related or an alignment gap caused by the interplay of these three facets within an enterprise. The first step towards building a CEH is to identify these gaps - plug them and get then customer experience design/ strategy correct. Many CX consulting vendors today offer blueprints, methods, tools, analytical models, and best practices that help enterprises to design future-proof Customer Engagement Hubs.
- Get Started with Contact Center Analytics: More than half analytics project fail because they don’t deliver the features and benefits that are agreed upon. Contact center analytics projects are no exception. Many lack the basic ability to integrate multiple channels and connect it back to core enterprise applications such a CRM &Data warehouses. When the foundation is not correct - it would be utopian to expect holistic insights! Therefore, the second step would be to invest in a suitable contact center analytics platform that integrates data from multiple customer channels and enterprise systems. It should offer a 360-degree view of the contact center with a dashboard of all critical contact center metrics and enable informed decision making.
- Go Omni-channel: Omni-channel customer experience is no longer nice to have. Having said that, creating a consistent, seamless, and hyper-personalized experiences across multiple channels and touch points is not something easy. Customers often navigate between channels and expect to take-off from where the left before they switched channels. Even at the hint of slightest frustration, the customers are quick to react and they take their business elsewhere. The third step would be to invest in an omni-channel customer experience platform that helps enterprises gauge customers’ intent and optimize their journey for better outcomes. An ideal omin-channel platform should be able to integrates data from all enterprise channel applications such as chat, voice, website, mobile, email and video and drive personalized, consistent and contextual customer experiences. It should also enable enterprise to offer Next Best Actions - on the right channel, at the right time.
- Focus on The Core, Outsource The Rest: Contact centers are made up of a diverse group of people, processes, and technologies. Bringing these disparate components together, and making them work in harmony takes a concerted effort. Lets accept it, keeping pace with technology advancements, increasing CX demands from customers and manage growth while keeping costs predictable. Often, operational challenges come in the way of delivering an outstanding customer experience. Many forward looking enterprises have started to leverage managed service providers to run their day to day operations. This gives them the freedom to to focus on the customer instead of worrying about daily operational challenges. There are plethora of services available today - right from basic support services and change management to comprehensive service delivery management, advisory services, and value-added services.
- Leverage The Clout of The Cloud: Moving your Customer Experience Management to the cloud promises to yield huge benefits to any enterprise, yet many are cautious to make the shift. Perceived high costs of migration, challenges in integration, lack of skills and the overall impact on IT organizations contribute to businesses being wary of the cloud. However, there are many cloud-based customer experience platforms that are available today that makes adoption effortless. The flexibility of cloud computing makes it a tad easier to engage with customers in meaningful conversations, and provides a consistent, contextual and omni-channel experience, using the customer’s preferred channel.
Challenges to Building a Customer Engagement Hub (CEH)
To build an engaging customer experience, IT application leaders will need to overcome departmental barriers and politics. Four organizational challenges can slow the transition to a CEH. Overcoming these challenges will depend largely on the mindset of the enterprise.
- Challenge No. 1: Lack of conviction that a customer engagement hub is necessary. For a small business, the decision-making power surrounding the replacement of customer-facing technologies is often up to one or two individuals. Once they conclude that change is necessary, the wheels are set in motion to realize that change. For large organizations, this is not possible, because there are layers of decision making. Each division of a business may have its own IT group. Each of these may receive shared services from a central IT group. The end users of IT systems for customer interaction may never be in a position to procure the systems they require. It is not uncommon for two years to elapse between the articulation of a technology need from the customer service area, and the eventual delivery of the underlying software. The more complex the system replacement, the longer it is likely for it to be replaced.
- Recommendation: The customer service or customer experience team should gather data that demonstrates the need for a new approach to customer engagement. The team should listen carefully to the CIO or other executives about business objectives and embed those ideas in presentations. That might mean discussing metrics, such as call deflection, or improved Net Promoter Scores, lower customer defection, average revenue per unit, brand loyalty, or salary and technology spend in the customer service department.
- Challenge No. 2: The decision making required to build a customer engagement hub does not rest in the hands of the people who most want it. Because IT is focused on business continuity, security, compliance and other core functions, it may not have the passion for such a program.
- Recommendation: IT should work together with marketing, sales and customer service to identify the journey gaps that lead to customer dissatisfaction, defection and low spending (this will be different for higher education and public-sector organizations). Explaining the need to foster deeper customer engagement from a business perspective will help raise the profile of a customer engagement hub initiative.
- Challenge No. 3" Vendors are not partners. This challenge is a major impediment to technology refresh. For many forms of customer service and support systems, the availability of alternative products is so low as to constitute a monopoly. Waves of acquisitions in the CRM space for packaged applications have left the market for a CRM desktop for customer care, for example, without serious competition for large-scale, highly complex needs. The same limited choice is true in the workforce optimization market. The result is that vendors charge high prices for their software, add high yearly maintenance fees, and limit the availability of upgrades. In theory, consolidation is good, because it reduces integration; but look under the covers of supposed suites to see if this is true.
- Recommendation: Before accepting a solution, conduct substantial reference checking. This includes site visits to vendor clients that have a similar usecase as yours, and an evaluation of the software that the vendor is proposing.
- Challenge No. 4: The customer engagement hub is not a product for sale, but a long-term process and technology initiative. This makes prioritizing projects difficult.
- Recommendation: IT application leaders should create a unified picture of current technologies, identify new functionalities required, investigate technology convergence from different software, and calculate the business case for the investment. This will help CIOs gain approval for a customer engagement hub program.
Benefits of Creating a Customer Engagement Hub
Below are some of the ways having a CEH can really impact a business:
- Gaining a competitive edge. As new technology and trends arise, customer expectations also shift. Swiftly adapting to new tech trends could mean meeting customer needs better and sooner than your competitors. For example, online stores are likely already using social media to reach customers, but to get a competitive edge, you can go one step further and leverage this technology to create an improved customer experience. This might mean a collaboration between the customer service and marketing teams when devising a social media strategy, in order to increase the efficiency of response to customer queries and customer service issues over social media.
- Retaining customers. More personalized communications at a customer’s potential touch points will leave them feeling well taken care of and more engaged. As a result, they’re more likely to become a repeat customer. For example, that online clothing store holds on to customers by personalizing its efforts to correct its mistake. They may also give a good reason for customers to come back in the form of a coupon for their next purchase.
- Acquiring new customers. If your existing customers are happy, the chances of them recommending your services or products to others are much higher. In addition, different departments can come together and analyze insights from existing customers through social media analytics, surveys, and more to recognize and reach out to the types of customers that are most likely to buy. For example, happy customers wouldn’t hesitate to recommend a store/businessto their friends and share their story. In turn, friends are more likely to shop there, which means more new customers for the store. The social media stint also helps the store create a positive brand image as a company that goes the extra mile to make a customer happy.
- Identifying opportunities for improvement. By studying customer feedback through surveys, online forums, customer support interactions (e.g., chats and emails), website analytics and social analytics, a business can identify pain points in the customer journey such as delayed delivery, poor customer service, etc. that ultimately lead to customer dissatisfaction. Using these pain points as opportunities, you can improve on the overall service of your business. For example, the eCommerce clothing store acknowledged my complaint and promised to work on the deficiency in its delivery process. If they do so, they’ll be improving the experience of their business as a whole, which benefits them in the long run, as they will have fewer dissatisfied customers.
- Building brand loyalty. Brand loyalty is a sum total of many factors, such as efforts made by a business to acquire new customers and retain old ones, steps taken to improve business processes and products, active engagement and communication with the customers. By doing so, a business can build a loyal customer base and increase the chances of repeat business from your existing customers. For example, once all the steps to create a customer engagement hub are taken, over time, as customers are retained, new customers acquired, etc., a brand name is established, along with loyalty from customers.
Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)
Customer Data Integration (CDI)
Customer Data Management (CDM)
Customer Due Diligence (CDD)
Customer Effort Score (CES)
Customer Experience Management (CEM)
Customer Lifetime Value
Customer Service Management
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
- ↑ Defining Customer Engagement Hub (CEH) Gartner
- ↑ An Overview of Customer Engagement Hub (CEH) FMI
- ↑ Reasons You Need a Customer Engagement Hub RedPoint Global
- ↑ Ten Steps to Plan a Next-Generation Customer Engagement Hub Gartner
- ↑ Building blocks of the Customer Engagement Hub Vimal Abraham
- ↑ What are the Challegenges to Building a Customer Engagement Hub? Gartner
- ↑ What are the benefits of creating a customer engagement hub? Capterra