Customers’ perception of a company depends on their experiences with the organization at every point of contact. Companies can try to change how customers view a brand in a number of ways, such as a new mobile app or an improved complaint-handling process. However, to really improve customer perception, every interaction at every touchpoint must answer questions, suggest new services, and deepen the relationship. Many firms fail to tap into business opportunities that their front-line employees encounter because their processes and technology are antiquated.
Enterprise architecture (EA) programs can lead the effort to address these limitations and deliver benefits to customers. British Gas, one of the winners of the 2015 Forrester/InfoWorld EA Awards, is a firm that seized its opportunity. My recent report, Enterprise Architects Transform Customer Engagement, analyzes the key practices enterprise architects at British Gas made to serve as brand ambassadors and to improve customer satisfaction levels and highlights key lessons for EA leaders. These practices include:
- APIs, cloud, and big data technologies power the new engagement platform. To build an engagement platform that delivers customer insights to front-line engineers, the British Gas EA team developed a platform architecture that uses APIs and cloud and big data technologies to support a new engagement platform and the applications on top of it. The API mechanism simplifies digital connections to business applications; cloud infrastructure provides robustness and agility for business operations; big data technology arms field engineers with customer insights; and policies and multitenancy ensure flexibility and security.
- The EA team at British Gas adopted a new way of working. EA programs are good at identifying architectural solutions to business problems but often wait for technology management or the business to initiate a project for implementing those stronger architectures. But David Trice, director of EA, British Gas, didn’t wait. His team used a rapid product spike to prove the architecture; proactively sought a sponsor to justify the business investment; assigned a program architect to drive development; and organized the team to optimize for co-creation.
In the age of the customer, enterprise architecture can accelerate digital transformation for customer obsession and operational excellence. If you would like to discover the details of how British Gas’s EA team succeeded in doing this, please take a deep dive into my report.
And If you have other insights on taking an EA approach to transform customer engagement, you are most welcome to add your comments to this blog post. Please also stay tuned for the final results of our 2016 EA Awards.