What is a Customer Experience Management strategy?
What Is Customer Experience Management Strategy?
Think of a time where you were really blown away by the service you received from a company. Really stop and rack that brain for a moment. Think about how you felt, and how it changed your perspective on a brand. Those feelings are the result of an exceptional customer experience management strategy. Awesome experiences don’t just come out of the blue, they’re products of customer centric brands who listen to what their customers want and invest in their frontline team to deliver on their service promise every time. So what exactly does a customer experience management strategy look like, and how do you go about creating one?
What is Customer Experience Management?
Customer experience management (CEM) is the processes a company uses to track, oversee and organize every interaction between a customer and the organization throughout the customer lifecycle and journey. It analyzes the overall customer experience by collecting granular behavioral data and direct feedback, and looks at how businesses can fine-tune the customer experience to create an emotional connection between a brand and its customers.
Customer Experience vs. Customer Service
It’s important to note that customer experience is not the same as customer service. Customer service looks at a single touchpoint in the customer journey, whereas customer experience looks at the entire customer journey from a holistic perspective. Let’s say you’re flying to Cabo for the weekend (because why not). After booking your flights, you decide you want to add an extra piece of luggage, so you call the helpline to do so. The service you receive from the person on the other end of the phone is an example of customer service. How they speak to you, how easily your request is fulfilled and how you feel after the interaction all contribute to the perceived level of service you receive. Customer experience on the other hand, encompasses every little impression along the entire customer journey. It considers every touch point from the moment you decide which airline you’ll fly with, to the last impressions left after flying.
Why is Customer Experience Management so Important?
Customers no longer base their loyalty on price or product. Instead, they stay loyal with companies based on the experiences they receive. In fact, 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience.
The objectives of CEM are to:
- Optimize the customer’s experience with the company as an entity
CEM uses experiential data to deliver on the things that matter most to customers. When customer’s expectations are met, or better yet exceeded by a company, the experience is optimized.
Let’s say you run a cleaning company. You may find through gathering experiential data that your clients find it difficult to make bookings on their phone. With this knowledge, you can make the necessary changes to optimize mobile display and instantly improve the experience of your customers.
- Foster customer conversion and retention
Customer experience → Loyalty → Growth. CEM helps you build a loyal customer base who spend more money with your business, and refer their friends and family.
- Improve brand image
When you improve customer experience for a single customer, their perception of your brand increases. When you improve customer experience for your entire customer base, you become known as the best in the business.
- Boost profits through new & repeat sales
Of course, all of this leads to increased profits through the returning customers who are now loyal to your brand, along with the new customers they have referred. Cha-ching!
When you focus on customer experience management, you increase brand distinction, improve customer loyalty and lower churn.
How to Create a Customer Experience Management Strategy
In order to effectively manage the customer experience, you need a winning strategy in place. Your strategy needs to be:
- Customer-centric: the experience needs to be fine-tuned around what your customers want, not what you assume they want.
- Data-driven: The best customer experience strategies are those that use real-time customer feedback to drive decision making.
- Frontline-driven: A great customer experience management strategy is one that leads from the frontline - they bring the magic that determines whether a customer's experience is awesome or awful.
- Measurable: What does success look like, and how will you measure it? The Net Promoter Score is one way to effectively measure if your experience strategies are working.
Here are the steps to create an effective customer experience management strategy:
- Assess your audience
- Define a customer experience vision
- Map the customer journey
- Collect and analyze data
- Leverage customer experience software
- Respond to feedback
- Measure what matters
Let’s take a deep dive into each step.
Assess your audience
Understanding who your customers are, their needs and expectations, is the starting point to developing an effective CEM strategy. The golden question - What matters most to your customers? Is it speed? Personalization? Performance? Quality? Price? Empathy? From analyzing customer feedback and prioritizing needs, you can create a service promise that truly resonates with your customers.
As Christine McHugh, Vice President of Customer Service and Operation Service for Starbucks says - “Figure out what matters most to your customers. Don’t assume if you haven’t already asked”.
Once you gather the data, you can create ideal customer avatars, or customer personas to guide your teams on how to deliver experiences that meet the exact needs and expectations of your customers.
The more time you spend getting to know your customers, the more awesome the experience you can deliver. Period.
Define a customer experience vision
Bridging the gap between the current experience and the future is enabled by clarity of vision. Now that you know exactly what your customers care about, you need to look at where you are now, and where you want to be. Here are some examples of great missions from some of the world’s leading experience brands:
Starbucks: “We create inspired moments in each customer’s day. Anticipate. Connect. Personalize. Own.”
The Ritz-Carlton: “The Ritz-Carlton experience enlivens the senses, instills well-being, and fulfills even the unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests.”
Nordstrom: “In store or online, wherever new opportunities arise, Nordstrom works relentlessly to give customers the most compelling experience possible”.
The key tactics for restructuring operations to align with a successful CX strategy are:
- Define specific goals and objectives
What is it you’re trying to achieve? Take your customer experience vision, and adapt it into measurable goals. For example, increase NPS score by 30 points in 6 months.
- Identify barriers in reaching objectives
What challenges do you anticipate you’ll run into? Write down a list of every little barrier you may come across with a corresponding plan of action to overcome it. For example, one barrier could be that your frontline team isn't motivated to deliver on your service promise. The solution could be a frontline coaching platform.
- Make organizational values and mission widely known
When you make organizational values and missions widely known to every team member, you create a collective sense of purpose and belonging. Plus, a high sense of belonging is linked to a 56% increase in job performance, a 50% drop in turnover risk and a 75% reduction in sick days (HBR).
- Coach the frontline to deliver on your vision
If the very people responsible for delivering awesome experiences aren’t provided with the coaching and support they need to deliver on the vision, you won’t have much luck.
- Consider all customer experience touchpoints
Successful customer experience management strategies consider all touchpoints. And we mean all. Every granular moment where your customer’s perception could change should be taken into account. For example social media interactions, word of mouth, website experience, sales team experience, billing, post purchase support, to name a few.
Map the customer journey
Get your pen and paper ready, it’s time to draw a map. In order to effectively track, analyze, control and improve customer experiences, you need to map out all touch points throughout the customer journey. It’s also important to qualify the significance of each touchpoint. For example, if you’re a company that sells electronics, it might be super important for your customers to have post purchase support should they need assistance with set up or troubleshooting. This may not be so important for a company that provides transportation, for example.
What is Customer Journey Mapping?
A customer journey map is a visual representation of the customer journey (also called the buyer journey or user journey). It helps businesses step into their customers’ shoes and experience their business as a customer would.
It visually illustrates customers’ processes, needs, behaviors and perceptions through their interactions with your brand. It also helps to segment and create personas for your customer base.
Collect & Analyze Data
Gathering and analyzing data can feel like an overwhelming task, but with the right tools and strategies in place it can be a streamlined, automated and uncomplicated process. The key to success in capturing customer feedback is to continuously harvest the voice of customer data.
The best ways to go about collecting and analyzing data?
- Customer feedback software: With a feedback tool, you can connect real-time customer feedback with all your teams, systems and processes.
- Social media listening: Get snooping on social. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn can be useful places to find insightful customer feedback and opinions. Search for tagged posts and related company hashtags to get the scoop on what folks are saying about your brand.
- Customer surveys: Post-purchase surveys are a fantastic way to find out what customers are thinking in their own words. You may like to offer them a reward to incentivize participation.
Before you can analyze the data, you need to effectively store and organize it, using the likes of a CEM platform and analytics tools.
Leverage Customer Experience Software
With good CEM software, you can gather and analyze the insights, surveys and feedback you need to fine-tune your experience. Customer experience management software is an invaluable tool used to measure customer loyalty, understand how to best respond to their needs and ultimately take the necessary actions to improve customer experience, and therefore customer retention.
As a refresher, CEM software:
- Combines behavioral analytics with automated engagement and satisfaction surveys.
- Integrates with CRM software for a detailed understanding of your customers and how to reach them.
- Stores data in a way that is secure and easily navigated by your team.
Essentially, it automates, streamlines and keeps everything in one place. God bless technology.
Respond to Employee Feedback
Leveraging the feedback of your frontline team plays an important role in successfully implementing CEM strategy. After all, they are the very people that spend the most time with your customers.
You can use an employee feedback tool to stay connected with your frontline teams, and any frontline team member can suggest ideas to improve the customer or employee experience.
Through unmuting the frontline, you’re able to:
- Be reactive to customer needs and expectations
- Strengthen the emotional connection a customer has with a brand
- Deepen employee connection to their work
- Strengthen company culture
Measure what matters
To successfully implement a customer experience management strategy, you need to measure your success against metrics that matter to your business. Go back to your customer experience vision, and check in with your objectives. Some examples of KPIs to track for measuring success of customer experience initiatives include:
- Churn rate
- Survey scores
- Customer satisfaction
Remember, focus on tangible results rather than abstract metrics.
Customer experience is dynamic and ever-evolving, so your CEM strategy should be too. Each step of this process should be constantly revisited and adapted as the needs and expectations of your customers change over time. Continue to gain insights from your customers, regularly revisit your customer experience vision, continue to map new and old customer journeys, analyze customer data on a daily basis and constantly check in with your frontline teams.
Sound overwhelming? Leverage technology tools to streamline and automate processes, such as the AskNicely Frontline Success Platform. Learn more about the platform for service businesses to empower their frontline teams, make every customer experience awesome, and accelerate growth.