We're starting 2008 with a set of updated frameworks that reflect our most current understanding of best practices in supporting customers' online and cross-channel activities. In the first few weeks, we've published our most up-to-date thinking around:
1) what capabilities you should have in search, navigation, and findability [See Susan E. Aldrich's "Enterprise Search Planning and Evaluation Framework, Version 3," January 3, 2008, http://psgroup.com/research_859.aspx; and "Enterprise Search Planning and Evaluation Matrix, Version 3," January 17, 2008, http://psgroup.com/research_862.aspx],
2) what capabilities you should be able to support for online customer communities [See Matthew D. Lees' "Framework for Evaluating Online Community Platforms, Version 2," January 10, 2008, http://psgroup.com/research_863.aspx; and "Online Community Platform Evaluation Matrix," January 17, 2008, http://psgroup.com/research_864.aspx], and, on January 17, 2008, we're bringing you another leg of the stool:
3) what capabilities you should have in place to support customers' shopping and buying (e-commerce) activities. We look in detail at the capabilities you should ideally have in place to provide state of the art customer service for customers who are trying to self-serve on line. We call this "Assisted-Service" for e-commerce. [See Mitchell Kramer's "Framework for Assisted-Service for Ecommerce: Requirements for Evaluation and Comparison of Multi-Channel Ecommerce Applications, " January 24,2008, http://www.customers.com/research_865.aspx.]
These frameworks really do contain our current take on "best practices" in each of the disciplines that we follow closely. So you should ideally be at least skimming these frameworks, or forwarding them on to the colleagues in your organization who are responsible for these activities within your firm. Use these frameworks to assess your own capabilities in delivering a great customer experience to your prospects and customers. I guarantee that you'll find some important gaps in your capabilities.
If you plan to upgrade your capabilities in any of these areas (or decide to do so after reading about the current state of the art), you can use these frameworks and our comparison matrices to prioritize the capabilities you need for your particular customer audiences and to evaluate your own current capabilities against those of the suppliers you are considering.
We also welcome readers' suggestions about which suppliers' offerings you'd like our experts to evaluate against these frameworks. You may be considering software you can license and install, open source solutions, or Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings. For example, Mitch Kramer plans to evaluate ATG Commerce Support Center and IBM WebSphere Commerce Sales Center, as well as the assisted-service capabilities of Microsoft Commerce Server 2000, Oracle iStore, and SAP E-Commerce. We then plan to review assisted-service for ecommerce capabilities of the key Software as a Service ecommerce suppliers, including Demandware, MarketLive, and Venda. Are there other solutions you'd like us to evaluate? If so, let us know. And, if our timetable doesn't match your schedule, we can adapt or reprioritize.