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Adaptive Implementation Strategy for CX Platforms

Adaptive Implementation Strategy for CX Platforms

"CX platforms" (also known as "CX solutions") are becoming increasingly popular, so let's explore what they are and how to avoid some of the common implementation pitfalls!

Exploring CX Platforms

"CX platforms" encompass everything from CRMs through marketing automation and chatbots to analytics and survey platforms. In this article, I will focus only on the three designed to enhance customer interactions and streamline their journey directly - Marketing Automation (MA), Customer Data Platforms (CDP), and Customer Journey Orchestration (CJO) platforms. They form the backbone of modern CX strategies, enabling businesses to deliver personalised, efficient, and engaging customer experiences.

Marketing Automation (MA) Platforms

MA platforms automate various marketing processes and campaigns across multiple channels. They enable businesses to execute targeted marketing strategies with greater efficiency and effectiveness. By automating repetitive tasks, these platforms free up marketers to focus on strategy and creativity. MA platforms typically use customer data from CRMs, DMSs, eCommerce platforms, ERPs or CDPs, utilising it to trigger personalised marketing actions.

Customer Data Platforms (CDP)

CDPs are comprehensive platforms that consolidate customer data from multiple platforms and databases into a single, unified profile. This aggregated data includes customer interactions, behaviours, permissions and preferences gathered across various touchpoints and channels. CDPs enable businesses to gain a 360-degree view of customers, enhancing their ability to make data-driven decisions, personalise marketing efforts, and improve overall customer engagement across all engagement and sales channels in real time.

Customer Journey Orchestration (CJO) Platforms

CJO platforms take customer experience management to the next level by actively managing and optimising customer journeys. They leverage data from CDPs to map out the entire customer journey, identify key touchpoints, and orchestrate personalised experiences in real time. CJO platforms help businesses anticipate customer needs, streamline interactions, and deliver relevant content at the right moment, enhancing customer satisfaction, loyalty and sales.

The Common Pitfalls

Marketing Automation, Customer Data Platforms, and Customer Journey Orchestration systems are powerful but inherently complex. 

Implementing such sophisticated systems, organisations risk embarking on what can quickly become a quintessential never-ending IT project. The complexities can lead to escalating costs, extended timelines, and, most worryingly, a lack of tangible return on investment (ROI). Here's why:

  • Complexity and Novelty: CDP, CJO and MA platforms often involve intricate configurations and integrations with existing systems. Their complexity is compounded by the fact that many businesses are unfamiliar with their full capabilities and limitations.

  • Risk of Cost Escalation: Such projects can easily incur spiralling costs without a clear and adaptable implementation plan. This risk is heightened by the potential for scope creep, where the project's requirements continuously expand or change during the development process.

  • Uncertain ROI: Implementing the platforms is a significant investment. Realising a measurable ROI can become unclear and distant without a strategic approach. This uncertainty is critical for stakeholders seeking justifiable benefits from such a sizable expenditure.

  • Evolving Business Needs: Business needs and customer expectations are constantly changing. A rigid implementation strategy can result in a platform that is obsolete or misaligned with current needs by the time it is fully deployed.

  • The Challenge of Integration: Integrating a new CJO, CDP or MA platform with existing systems and data sources can be complex. It requires careful planning and execution to ensure seamless functionality without disrupting ongoing business operations.

The Solution: An Adaptive Implementation Strategy

To mitigate these risks, an adaptive implementation strategy is not just beneficial; it's imperative. This strategy involves:

  • Starting with a Broad Understanding: Instead of delving into detailed specifications from the outset, begin with a broad understanding of goals and the current state and develop a flexible scope.

  • Engaging Vendors Early: Collaborate with vendors early to leverage their expertise in shaping potential solutions.

  • Implementing a Pilot Program: Select a few key customer journeys for a pilot program, allowing testing and learning in a controlled environment.

  • Iterative Development and Scaling: Use insights from the pilot to refine and adjust the approach, adopting an agile methodology for development and scaling.

  • Continuous Learning and Adaptation: Establish a feedback loop to adapt continuously to new insights, changes in the business environment, and technological advancements.

Adopting this adaptive strategy allows you to effectively manage the uncertainties and complexities of implementing CX solutions. This approach helps control costs and keeps the project scope in check. It ensures that the platform remains aligned with evolving business needs, ultimately leading to a more timely and meaningful realisation of ROI.

A Structured Plan

A structured implementation plan emphasises flexibility, vendor collaboration, and iterative development.

Phase 1: Foundational Planning and Vendor Collaboration

  • Understand Business Goals and the Current Landscape: Conduct workshops with stakeholders to identify high-level goals and audit existing processes and systems to understand the baseline.

  • Engage Vendors for Conceptual Solutions: Issue a Request for Information (RFI) to potential vendors, followed by collaborative sessions to explore various approaches and technologies.

  • Develop a Flexible Project Scope: Formulate a document outlining the envisioned direction, key features, and desired outcomes while allowing room for future adjustments.

  • RFI Process and Vendor Selection: Issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) focused on the flexible scope and evaluate vendors based on their responses, emphasising adaptability and innovation.

  • Build a Preliminary Business Case: Develop a business case with a range of potential costs, including a 20-25% contingency budget for unforeseen adjustments.

Phase 2: Pilot Implementation and Learning

  • Select Pilot Customer Journeys: Choose journeys representative of broader goals, manageable in scope, and likely to yield meaningful data.

  • Prepare for the Pilot: Work with the selected vendor to prepare the technical setup and conduct focused training sessions for the teams involved in the pilot.

  • Execute and Monitor the Pilot: Launch the pilot, ensuring all integrations are functional, and monitor the performance against predefined KPIs.

  • Analyse Feedback and Refine the Approach: Collect and analyse feedback from customers and internal teams and adjust the strategy based on these insights.

Phase 3: Iterative Development and Organisational Scaling

  • Feedback-Informed Scope Refinement: Utilise pilot data and feedback to adjust the scope and plan for subsequent phases.

  • Iterative Platform Development: Adopt an iterative development approach, gradually adding features and refining the platform in alignment with ongoing insights.

  • Phased Organisational Rollout: Plan a phased rollout of the platform, incorporating lessons learned from each stage, and maintaining a feedback loop for continuous improvement.

Embracing Flexibility for Successful Implementation

Implementing a CX platform is a journey marked by continuous learning and adaptation. By following this adaptive implementation strategy, businesses can navigate the complexities of CX platforms more effectively.

The key lies in starting with a broad understanding, engaging vendors early, piloting strategically, and embracing iterative development.

This approach helps manage costs and timelines and ensures the platform evolves in sync with the business's growing needs, leading to a more impactful and sustainable ROI.


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