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DX Strategy with Esri Mapping the road to better customer experience

Customer as compass: digital strategy guides transformation

Esri, a developer of Geographic Information System (GIS) software has led the industry since 1969. Esri’s products allow organizations to design and manage solutions using geographic knowledge. Governments, industry leaders, academics, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) use Esri’s solution to connect them with the analytic knowledge they need to make critical decisions that affect the planet.

Esri was founded on customer-centric principles, but through the years departmental silos built up, making it challenging for Esri to focus on the customer experience throughout the entire life of the relationship.

As an enterprise with a complex product line, Esri needed to streamline its digital experience to be of greater value to its customers. Co-founder and President Jack Dangermond realized the need for change and took on the challenge to create Esri’s ideal customer experience.

Content management needs spark customer-centric thinking

Believing a new content management system (CMS) would be a step in the right direction, Esri met with Connective DX. Understanding Esri’s business goals, as well as the complexity of a CMS implementation, we asked the crucial question: “Who in Esri leadership could work across the silos and focus solely on the customer?”

When Dangermond looked around the boardroom he saw no one at the table who had true responsibility and accountability to the customer. This was a defining moment for Esri: They created the new position of Chief Customer Officer and chose Nick Frunzi to take the lead.

“Connective DX intrigued us from the beginning,” says Frunzi. “They offered a planning framework that made sense to us, as well as deep expertise to help us execute on every part of that vision. We now have the ability to develop—and deliver—a future state, not just design it.”

Nick Frunzi tells Esri’s CX story in this video, shot before we switched from ISITE Design to Connective DX:

Kick-starting CX with the AIM Digital Experience Framework

With new CX leadership in place, Esri focused on how to create and maintain a digital experience strategy to support growth, and create more customer value and delight. To achieve these goals, Connective introduced its AIM Digital Experience Framework, a strategy and planning framework that helps align organizations around a multi-year vision and create a roadmap for differentiated and results-driven experiences.

This framework helps elevate organizations such as Esri above short-term projects to build a long-lasting digital foundation for the business, prioritizing initiatives that matter most to customers. The framework consists of three key phases:

  • Align business objectives and customer needs
  • Imagine a new customer-centric future
  • Map the people, processes and technology required to achieve this vision

Step 1 for Esri: align the organization

More than 40 Esri employees, representing all divisions of the company, collaborated to craft the future customer experience. Connective facilitated a number of these cross-departmental workshops to first ensure alignment on the customer needs, business considerations, and brand expression.

Esri circle graphic

These workshops helped Esri align on complex—yet critical issues—including single customer view, transparency, CX success metrics, and cross-departmental process, people, and tools. Esri also created new brand experience principles—the emotional essence and promise of the brand—which guided the planning of every customer interaction.

“Reaching alignment on the Esri Experience Principles was fantastic and so foundational; these now inform all of our decision-making around the customer experience,” Frunzi says.

Esri Experience Principles

  • Customers engaging with Esri in digital channels will be empowered to make better decisions through clean and simple navigation and copy.
  • They will understand that behind the technology are a group of dedicated and inspired people.
  • They will be surprised and delighted by moments of wit and insight displayed in unexpected places.

Step 2 for Esri: imagine the ideal customer experience

With the brand promise and emotional principles in mind, the teams shifted focus to imagine the future state of the ideal digital customer experience. Esri and Connective DX teams identified and prioritized the digital touchpoints that would help customers research, buy and use Esri’s products, with a focus on driving customer loyalty and brand love.

With the current state lifecycle customer journey map for reference, breakout groups focused on identifying known pain points, brainstorming solutions to improve these moments, and defining new opportunities to delight.

Nick Frunzi

For me it’s very exciting to see employees from every division of the company participating. They are very active and vocal even though they don’t have a background in customer experience. They understand how important the customer experience really is.

Nick Frunzi

Chief Customer Officer, Esri

Step 3: map priorities and programs

Esri’s leadership shared a vision for the ideal customer experience, which had been defined across the organization and validated by real customers. Next, they needed to craft an experience roadmap that prioritized the actions and initiatives to make the vision a reality. The mapping sessions covered both “front-stage” and “back-stage” aspects of the customer experience, including in-person and online communications with customers, marketing platforms, and back-end systems, as well as staffing and process implications.

Esri document

They came away with a multi-year roadmap and phased implementation plan for all the projects and technology initiatives required to deliver the ideal digital experience for Esri customers. The highest impact projects, like Esri’s current customer portal experience, My Esri, were prioritized to implement and launch, while foundational technology could be put in place to support the rollout of future initiatives.

“The AIM Digital Experience Framework was an instrumental tool for our evolution; it’s a straightforward and powerful process that helped us plot our future digital customer experience,” says Frunzi. “Now we know where we’re going to go; the challenge is how fast we’re going to get there.”

What's next for Esri?

Esri’s transformation toward being a customer-centric organization is an evolution, but with relatively modest effort they were able to craft an overarching customer experience vision and communicate it throughout the entire organization. This helped prioritize the appropriate new digital projects and customer-facing initiatives. By focusing first on making it easier for customers to achieve their goals, Esri also accomplished some of their own goals by creating a better organizational alignment with their customers.

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