Ever feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of customer interactions out there? If so, you’re not alone.
The ways brands interact with customers have diversified at unprecedented levels over recent years. This has made the concept of customer experience not only much more complex, but also more crucial than ever before. So much so, that 81 percent of companies view customer experience as a key competitive differentiator.
So, if you want to stand out in a crowded marketplace, there’s one sure-fire way of doing it – focus on delivering a truly outstanding customer experience.
And that’s where customer experience management comes in.
Defining customer experience management
Before we delve deeper, let’s look at a definition of customer experience management (CEM or CXM).
According to Gartner, “Customer experience management is the practice of designing and reacting to customer interactions to meet or exceed their expectations, leading to greater customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.”
In a nutshell, customer experience management is about being as attentive to your customers needs and wants as you can possibly be. To do that, you need to track, oversee, and organize interactions with customers throughout the customer journey.
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The importance of customer experience management
If you think that creating the best possible customer experience should be a priority, you’re right.
Good customer experience management makes good business sense. In fact, there’s a whole host of reasons why customer experience management is important. When you do CEM well, it means you can:
- Make your brand stand out by treating your customers better than your competitors do.
- Facilitate upselling opportunities and increase order values – 86 percent of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience.
- Generate new sales through turning your customers into your brand ambassadors.
- Foster customer satisfaction.
- Give your customers reasons to stay with you.
Where does customer experience management fit into an organization?
There’s very little agreement on who is responsible for customer experience.
Just over one-third of respondents (34 percent) in one survey said the CEO is in charge, 12 percent said the customer service department, and another 12 percent said the marketing department. Not very conclusive.
In reality, customer experience is a multichannel, cross-departmental issue. Philosophically, customer experience is the responsibility of everyone within an organization. Practically however, that can create confusion and inertia.
Given the nature of customer experience, creating a management function that sits outside of the traditional company structure may make the most sense. For that to work, though, it must have the clout to create company-wide change. That means strong organizational support, and a close relationship with the CEO. It’s becoming more and more common to see companies creating a C-level position specifically for customer experience management, often known as the Chief Experience Officer, or CXO.
How to improve customer experience management
Getting customer experience management right relies on one thing more than anything else – truly understanding your customers. Only then can you create and deliver the kind of customer experience that wins you loyalty, advocates, and, ultimately, revenue.
That is easier said than done, of course. But, by following these steps, you can make sure you’re on the right track:
- Curate holistic customer personas. Knowing your customers comes down to the data you collect on them. Ensure a mixture of data, combining the more traditional transactional and demographic data with newer and emerging data points across the customer journey – such as live chat and social media interactions. Disney World has taken this a step further with their magic bands, collecting a whole ream of data based on your interactions with their entertainment park.
- Personalize interactions with customers wherever possible. The gold standard of customer interactions is personalization. If you can deliver relevant offers, as well as personalized recommendations and advice, you vastly improve your chances of delivering an unforgettable customer experience and bringing in sales. In fact, 80 percent of consumers are more likely to make a purchase from a brand that provides personalized experiences. Think of how Amazon creates personalized homepages based on historical shopping habits, wishlists, and shopping carts.
- Understand the customer journey. Customer journey mapping – a detailed snapshot of the entire process a customer follows to purchase and beyond – will help you better understand the different touchpoints customer go through and the challenges they meet along the way. Mapping customer experience like this can help you create consistency and offer better interactions at each step of the way. As an example, Dapper Apps created a customer journey map, detailing the stages of research, comparison, workshop quote, and sign-off, thus helping their employees better understand the customer perspective.
- Listen to and act on data. Listening to what customers tell you, with the help of technology such as live chat and customer surveys, provides rich insight into their wants and needs. Putting into practice what the data shows you allows you to bring your customer experience more in line with customer expectations. Apple, for example, are a high-profile user of NPS surveying to push their brand forward.
- Create a customer-centric culture. At all levels of the organization, customers need to be the focus of everything. Creating a customer-centric narrative your company can rally around will naturally create an environment more conducive to doing customer experience well. Take the McDonald’s mission statement as an example, ‘To be our customers' favorite place and way to eat’. It’s clear customer experience is at the very heart of what they do.
- Adopt an omnichannel strategy. Businesses that go omnichannel create better customer experiences – customer retention rates are 90 percent higher for omnichannel versus single-channel. That’s because they treat customer interactions across multiple channels as part of one unified customer journey, rather than the siloed approach of old. The Starbucks loyalty program, for example, allows customers to check and reload their card via phone, website, in-store, or even on the app. Changes are then updated across all channels in real time.
Get some help from customer experience management software
Some 57 percent of marketing professionals say the most effective tactic for improving customer experience is collecting customer feedback. So, anything that helps you do that better is a boon.
Your best bet is to use a customer experience management platform. CEM software allows you to measure, understand, and improve customer experience without having to manage the process from multiple tools.
A good CEM system should:
- Keep customer information all in one place. You should have all your interactions with customers centralized – from the behavior they exhibit (e.g. purchases), to how your company made them feel (i.e. customer feedback). This information will show you where you’ve got things right, but also where you can improve.
- Provide survey capabilities. The ability to track valuable customer feedback across all your customers is an absolute must. You should also be able to send these surveys through a number of methods – from SMS to live chat. NPS, CSAT and CES data all help you understand how well you are serving your customers.
- Analyze data. We’re not all data scientists. And, unless you have an army of them at your disposal, you’re going to need to lean on a customer experience platform to analyze data for you. Statistical analysis, text analysis, and key driver analysis tools are all likely to come in handy.
- Present data in dashboards. Dashboards provide a clear view of what’s happening. Role-based dashboards can customize the data shown, so you’re able to share with people only what matters most to them. This increases the likelihood of insight being relevant and, therefore, actionable.
- Offer integrations with other technology. Many systems, such as website analytics and CRM, provide APIs to pipe data into other software. Integrating CEM platforms with these solutions helps you acquire even deeper insight. Website analytics might show you that people are leaving a certain page in their droves, but combining it with customer feedback tells you why.
Manage your way to success
In a landscape where customer experience can make or break a company, you simply cannot afford to take customer experience management efforts lightly.
While the whole company has a responsibility to get behind the cause, creating a specific role with the right tools at their disposal to drive things forward is likely to be the most effective route. Do that, and you’ll manage to create more than just a good customer experience – you’ll create a successful business well into the future.