CXM Requirement: Don't Be Creepy

The video pitch for SDL Innovate 2013, noted "Customer Experience Management is as old as people are." The familiar neighborhood store is charming, but scale it to an enterprise level and what corporations know about us can be creepy.

I was enchanted by the conference, which showcased our solutions, partners, and expertise in helping businesses navigate some fairly sophisticated content management and customer experience requirements. I've also previously explained that Customer Experience Management doesn't necessarily change your Tridion BluePrint requirements, but post-Innovate I'm suggesting that creating and managing the customer experience across your enterprise and digital channels requires two very important requirements.
  • External: your customers or users need tools to manage their preferences, profiles, and privacy.
  • Internal: your enterprise needs the ability to manage such experiences.
Transparency. Control. Got it?
Don't settle for simply copying the competition. If you're developing incrementally, assume your users want control over preferences, profiles, and privacy in the very first release. Include being trustworthy when figuring out your business, functional, and technical requirements and make transparency and control a part of your content strategy.
Need convincing? Target knowing when you're pregnant is old news, so I made a new creepy slide to sell the idea for transparency in your personalized customer experiences. Imagine you're at SDL Innovate, and you see slides telling you not about the presenter, but about you!


Customer Experience Management: Transparency and Control Requirements from Alvin


But what does this mean to content management teams and specifically Tridion implementations?

External Requirements: Data Sources and Rendered Output

We can design SDL Tridion functional designs (FDs) top-down, starting from the expected rendered output. The focus is currently on page types and content types, though I suspect we'll need better terminology to fit the reality of today's service-oriented, multi/omni-channel Web.

When creating your content inventory or matrix, be sure to include the sources for where content and data comes from. All of my recent SDL Tridion FDs include content and data from non-Tridion systems such as product information, social media plugins, script libraries, analytics tags, and even tags to manage tags.
Tridion is flexible at helping your teams manage non-Tridion content in Tridion without that data being in Tridion (by letting you extend the GUI to show other data). By recognizing that not all Web-visible Content is necessarily in the Web Content Management system, Tridion is the "ultimate corporate team player" and doesn't assume it will take over your website.
By tracking especially end-user data in requirements to implementation, you'll better address the external requirement to be transparent on how and why you present certain content to a given user.

Tridion implementation tip: consider translate-able label schema(s) over key-value configuration pairs if you're considering a multi-lingual site (nearly assumed if you're using SDL-Be-Global. You may need to translate phrases such as, "recommended because of," "profile," or "also viewed."

Note that some of this transparency is already law (e.g. refer to the EU "Cookie law").

Internal Requirements: Preview as User, Metadata, and Personalization

You will need a way to test your user's experience in a "preview" environment. This is easy with a a basic Tridion architecture that includes two target types:
  • Live
  • Preview (or Staging)
In addition, use SDL Tridion features, test different user profiles, and understand the trade-offs to "automation."
  • Use SDL Tridion 2013's CXM-friendly features. If you're testing variations of content for different devices, especially with SDL Tridion 2013, consider using Device Preview and Footprint sets. If needed, create and test with different user profiles, however you manage them. As you create content and pages, consider using 2013's Bundle feature to publish or release new "experiences" together.
  • Don't assume one user, one browser, or one "channel." One of the biggest mistakes I've seen (and unfortunately have committed) in Content Management and Web development is assuming all users are the same, across all browsers. Offer the ability to Preview as a given User (or Profile) to the appropriate support staff. Just be careful with personal information requirements such as HIPAA.
  • Automation isn't automatic. I frequently get requests in projects that end with: "and we'd like to automate this going forward." This usually means authors want to simplify their lives and not have to create a page per user profile or attribute. Authors can reduce the amount of work they do by creating an "indirect association" once, in each content component's metadata, so that Tridion or website code can deliver the right content based on context. But this isn't complete automation, it's just a consolidation of authoring steps from a "choice per page" to "a metadata selection in modular content" (i.e. check box in a component). The trade-off is losing the ability to easily sort or curate the displayed results. I'll have to follow up on other automation trade-offs in a future creepy post.
In addition to Tridion features, I've seen organizations find or create solutions to manage browser sessions, spoof user agents (to test as other devices), automate front-end testing, and present user-or profile-specific information. A quick online search gives you plenty of options, the hardest part will be finding the best fitting options for your team and teaching each other how to use them. One of my customers aptly refers to the "socialization" part of business analysis and requirements gathering--this applies just as much to the ad hoc tools in your development ecosystem.

In your journey to personalize your content and experience for your customers, first don't be creepy. Be transparent and give users control. Secondly, make it easier on your content management team by getting the most out of SDL Tridion and related solutions.

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