Faster Delivery = Happy Users
Automated Process = Fewer Errors
Standards = Cost Reduction
Order Visibility = Confidence
Linking Systems = Efficiency
It’s 2018, and there are excellent solutions for everything. Maintaining a killer email list is easy with MailChimp. Customer relationship management is simple, thanks to Salesforce. It’s been nearly a decade since Apple declared “there’s an app for that,” and now, there are a lot more apps for that
The only problem, especially in the era of Hybrid IT, is making all your solutions work together as best they can. They all generate valuable data, but it often goes unused, because each app’s data remains in its own silo. This results in missed opportunities.
That’s why IBM developed App Connect. It’s sort of a meta-solution. It forms relationships between different applications and their data, whether they’re on-prem or in the cloud, allowing you to coordinate them with simple ‘event-driven workflows. Companies are using these capabilities to connect far-flung departments and enhance the customer experience. Let’s demonstrate how this works with a couple of use cases.
Sometimes, having a wildly successful product can be a catch-22. Suppose you’re a clothing retailer, and one of your sneakers was recently seen on Kanye’s feet. That’s a tremendous coup. It’s also a hassle. You don’t have the stock to deal with the massive influx of interest in this product.
It sells out instantly, and you have to wait weeks for the suppliers to get it back in. Customers come to your website and try to order it and feel frustrated. Or, worse, they go to your showrooms and leave empty-handed, having wasted an hour of their life to get shoes that no longer exist.
App Connect brings your resources together to make the best of this situation. When a logged-in customer searches for the product on your online store, their data gets sent to marketing, who can arrange for special notifications or emails to be sent to them when stock is renewed. You can also track location data, and get an instant read on where your new customers are. Maybe this is the time for marketing to start planning on doing some pop-up stores.
Moreover, the moment that stock comes in, App Connect can shoot the stock database information to the web team immediately, so they can start Tweeting or Instagramming right away, before the next micro-trend in footwear starts taking over. (Given the pace of social-driven culture, this could be a matter of days or even hours.)
This is how automated workflows can lead to boosted revenue and greater customer satisfaction. They can make success breed more success. They can also make failure breed success.
You sell camping equipment. Someone buys a weatherproof tent from you, and they take it hiking. It rains, and they get soaked, so they complain. This could go one of two ways, depending on how equipped you are to deal with it.
In the less-ideal scenario, the rep responsible doesn’t have a lot of information about the customer. So, she asks him: are you sure you set up the tent correctly? Were there any punctures in the rain cover? How much moisture entered the tent—maybe it was just condensation?
The customer is not amused. He’s a seasoned camper. He knows how to set up a tent. He’s bought your products for years. And now, unintentionally, you’re condescending to a loyal patron of your business, who will take his money elsewhere in future.
But there’s another scenario, with IBM App Connect. You get the complaint. App Connect immediately starts integrating the data you’ve got available. By checking your on-prem database against his contact info, you know that he’s bought your camping equipment for years. So, he probably knows what he’s doing—no need to ask elementary questions. Then, the complaint is passed along to IBM Watson, which does some cognitive analysis on it. What’s the emotional tone like? How similar is it to complaints that are on social media right now? Is this maybe the first sign of a manufacturing defect you’ll have to take care of?
In this scenario, your rep goes in armed, after App Connect makes sure she gets the info bundled in an email. She thanks him for being a loyal customer. Knowing what his expertise level is, she lets him know that the problem probably wasn’t with him. She asks him to send it back so you can get a sense of what’s wrong, offering to reimburse him for the postage. She also immediately offers to provide a replacement. Rather than providing open-ended questions, she delivers solutions, right out of the gate. Your customer is impressed, tells his friends about how you handled it, and keeps buying your products.
Automation, like the kind IBM App Connect offers, is often thought of as being about convenience. And, in one sense, that’s correct. We’re all lazy, and we all like to have the data we need to do our jobs sent to us, rather than having to seek it out.
But it’s also about maximization—making sure that no useful data goes unused. As your company expands, you’ll use more and more solutions. This is welcome, but you also risk becoming less responsive, due to the increased size of your operation. With App Connect, you can maintain the integration of all of your resources, even as your firm goes from being a small team to being a super-organism.