Integrating z/OS Systems to Enable a Seamless Cross-channel Customer Experience
Many industries where customer experience is the critical differentiator run on z/OS systems. That includes retail, financial services, transportation, hospitality, government, and more. As a result, integration of z/OS systems into any customer-oriented application or with front-end applications is essential.
Just how important is the issue? More than two-thirds of companies now primarily compete based on customer experience. That’s up from 36% ten years ago. Companies like Jet Blue and The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company have historically been known for their exceptional customer service. And eyewear provider Warby Parker, widely appreciated for its customer experience, is known for a legendary example of above and beyond service when an executive returned a pair of glasses to the home of a customer who had left the glasses on an Acela train ride.
Beyond multi-channel to omni-channel
Many businesses offer multiple ways for customers to interact with their company. It is not unusual for a company to support interactions via the web, in-person, mobile, voice, text, and chat. That way, every customer can use their preferred method to ask questions, review account information, check on an order status, get information, search, place orders, and more.
What differentiates one company from another is when a business offers a seamless cross-channel customer experience. Often called omni-channel, a seamless cross-channel experience is a multi-channel approach to serving customers that offers an integrated and cohesive customer experience no matter how or where a customer reaches out.
We’ve all experienced the siloed approach that treats each channel separately. You’re doing something online such as placing an order, checking the status of a service request, or inquiring about your account. An issue occurs such as a phone line dropping, your mobile phone’s screen is too small to carry out the task, or you simply want to talk to someone in person. You switch from mobile to Web, or phone to in-store, and there is no connection or carryover between what you have already done and now. You need to reenter information, answer the same questions, and walk through the same steps.
In contrast, the interaction with a business that delivers a seamless cross-channel experience is much different. An agent on the phone knows you’ve had trouble placing an order online, the in-store representative is expecting you to drop off an item for repair, and when you log into your account online, you are taken to the part of the process you were at on your mobile device.
Integration is the key
Omni-channel customer experience seamlessly integrates the different communication channels that businesses use to communicate with customers. Customer demand for a seamless cross-channel experience is pushing businesses to change. The number of companies investing in an omni-channel customer experience has jumped from 20% in 2010 to more than 80% in 2020.
As a result, z/OS users are racing to adapt to the new realities of the omni-channel customer experience. Users expect that data and applications will be as readily available on mobile devices, the web, or via phones as they are on desktop clients.
Developing a seamless cross-channel user experience can mean a significant amount of new application coding. What’s needed is a way to easily transform proven applications and system-of-record data using modern APIs to accelerate the delivery of new services and meet changing customer expectations.
To tightly integrate z/OS systems for such efforts requires the embracement of modern application development methodologies. That includes providing developers with solutions that let them retain the decades of efforts that went into the core applications running on their z/OS systems while building new applications that tap into these systems.
Businesses must make available to their developers the commonly used open-source development, workflow automation, and CI/CD tools to the z/OS environment to accomplish this. Such a strategy will help businesses speed the development of new applications to meet changing demands of their customers. It allows a business to leverage the data and applications on its z/OS systems and create innovative new applications.
Developing new customer applications while retaining the core business functions, processes, and data on the z/OS systems ensures that all front-end access makes use of a single source of truth about the customer. There is only one record associated with each customer. Such integration of z/OS systems thus makes it much easier to keep all the channels aligned and lets businesses deliver the prized and highly desired seamless cross-channel customer experience.