What is Customer Experience Management?
Customers have more options than ever. They know it. And they're losing patience with brands that can't meet their expectations. A recent survey found that 32% of customers will leave a brand after just one bad experience.
When we talk about customer experience we're talking about the way a customer feels about your company, its products, services and, well... everything: all of the tiny details and micro-moments that add up to create a person's opinion.
Identifying, analyzing, and guiding it all is a surprisingly sophisticated challenge. Luckily, decades of computer science and market expertise are available to help you shape the best possible experiences for customers.
Customer Experience Management – The Basics
Customer experience (CX) management is a strategy that tracks, analyzes, controls, and (hopefully) improves interactions with your customers at every touch point. In other words, it's labor that goes on behind the scenes to make sure that customers feel fabulous when they're engaging your brand (and talking about you to their friends and family).
Customer Experience Management Is Not CRM
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a company's view of a customer, primarily through the lens of sales. It tracks engagement and purchase histories of individual customers with an eye toward future sales to individuals.
Customer experience management focuses on the customer's view of a company. It collects data from a wider range of touchpoints – including sales, but also social platforms, customer service history, website interaction, and customer experience surveys.
Individual customers are important in customer experience management. Customers who mention bad experiences in their survey responses, for example, deserve individual attention. But the overall goal is to improve the experience of all touchpoints for the widest possible swath of customers and newcomers.
Steps In The Customer Experience Management Process
CX management is a dynamic, ongoing process of perpetual improvement for any company. The management cycle has some basic steps...
Assess Current Performance
Collect data from customers to understand which of your touchpoints are providing the best experience and which ones are not.
Build A Customer Journey Map
Use data from all available touchpoints and outside sources to understand the paths that different customers take to purchase your products, from the first time they decide to click on your social ads or website to the moment their purchase is complete, and on to the service requests they make later on.
Once you know the areas that need improvement, and the ways that people are interacting with your brand, it's time to set specific goals for improving (or maintaining) customer satisfaction at various steps in their journey.
It's time for creative solutions. What changes can you make to reach your new CX goals? How will you track those changes? Who will be in charge of these programs? What is your timeline?
The strategies are put into action. New tactics are tested out – ideally with as much precision and care for individual customer needs as possible. All the while, you're collecting new CX data from customers about all possible touchpoints.
Once your new tactics have yielded a considerable amount of data, it's time to re-assess. Which have improved? Which have declined? Which are holding steady?
Revise and Repeat
Based on the most recent round of data analysis and assessment, you'll make tweaks to your customer experience management tactics and begin the cycle all over again. It's a constant pursuit of perfection.
Features of Customer Experience Management
The process relies on smart strategy as much as it does on smart technology. Both are necessary if you're going to effectively manage customer experience at scale.
CX is all about trying to understand how customers feel when they interact with you. Considering their emotions is essential to managing their experience. Empathy is required. Happy customers are good for business.
Granular Data Collection
If CX management is a way to see your brand through a customer's eyes, you need as much quality data as possible for an accurate, detailed portrait. This means collecting data on all possible touchpoints throughout every customer's journey.
Real-Time Data and Analysis
Instantaneous data collection allows you to get customer feedback on a given touchpoint while the experience is fresh in their minds. Real-time analysis means your performance metrics are always current – and logged in detail for historical analysis.
Ticket Management + Flagging
Identifying dissatisfied customers is important for brand management and sales. By automatically flagging respondents who provided low NPS scores, and even setting up tickets in integrated CRM systems, you can reach out to these people right away.
Benefits of Customer Experience Management
A well honed management system enables you to do more for your customers with the resources at your disposal. Better management means better workflow and clearer vision, which allows you to reach more ambitious goals.
Customer Loyalty Campaigns
Which customers said in survey responses that they're thrilled with you right now? Send them a little exclusive offer that incentivizes them to come back again soon or, better yet, spread the word to their community.
And those customers who are not feeling so great about you right now? If you didn't send them a CX survey, you might never know about it, and they'd silently drift away to a competitor. Being proactive with unhappy customers allows you to retain more of them. A strong database allows you to identify similar folks who might also be likely to churn.
By integrating CX management data with demographic and CRM data, you're able to approach customers as individuals, connect on their preferred platforms, and help find the products that are the best possible match for them.
Lower CX Costs
Every business is allocating time and money to customer experience, whether they realize it or not. With a data-driven approach, you're able to allocate those resources where they're needed. Less waste, better ROI.
Improved Staff Morale + Performance
A customer-centric office culture allows your team to see how their individual work contributes to the happiness of customers. It presents a creative challenge to all departments in your office – and the perfection they seek is always just out of reach.
Customer Experience Management Success Stories
The customer experience paradigm is found nowadays all over the business world. It's even been spotted in government. Some of the biggest brands on Earth owe their rise (or rebirth) to a focus on customer experience management.
“You can either use negative comments to get you down or you can use them to excite you and energize your process to make a better pizza,” said Domino's CEO. Ten years ago, Domino's had no shortage of negative comments from customers. But they embraced it, built an ad campaign around it, even asked customers for recipe suggestions. In the process they rebuilt a global brand identity and doubled their market share.
The iconic shoe brand was charting a lot of traffic on its site from mobile devices (as is just about everybody these days) but they were getting far fewer conversions. Analyzing their mobile site touchpoint data inspired them to re-tool the entire UX architecture. The result, higher conversion across all mobile sites.
The consumer electronics retailer's CEO described a "retail near-death experience" as its stock price hit an all-time low in the shadow of Amazon's growing empire. The innovation that turned Best Buy's fate around? Creating a company "obsessed" with the customer: redesigning their web presence to compete with Amazon, investing in staff to provide unparalleled service, and investing in databases to personalize marketing.
Challenges For Customer Experience Management
There's a difference between simply managing CX and managing excellent CX. Surprisingly, 80% of companies think they deliver superior customer service, but only 8% of customers think they're getting great service.
A customer's feelings about their shopping experience is influenced by many factors – website speed, payment options, inventory, customer support – all at the same time. If your web team is only looking at CX data about web issues and the warehouse is only looking at CX data pertaining to inventory, you'll only improve CX in a piecemeal fashion. Departments need to share information, understand how they're connected, and collaborate with each other.
With all of these diverse departments, a multiplicity of touch points, and an ever-growing bank of data to use, even the most sophisticated CX management setup can become unwieldy. Having an accessible, customizable interface is essential to having a CX platform that your team actually uses.
Modern algorithmic computations tools are game-changers for all business. However, data is more than numbers. Too many businesses forget that. Open-text questions on customer experience surveys can provide vital insights that an NPS score cannot. Using keyword analysis, these answers can be analyzed at scale.
Best Practices For Customer Experience Management
Streamlined workflow and strategy is essential to effective customer experience management. Equally important: setting your team up for success within your customer experience campaigns.
Set Clear Goals
Goals should be specific, quantifiable, and challenging but still within reach. For example: if shoppers are rating your online checkout poorly, one goal might be, ‘Improve Net Promoter Score for checkout by 5 points before the end of this business quarter.’
Get Your Team On-Board
No matter what goals you set, meeting (and hopefully surpassing them) will be a collective effort. Invest time upfront to showing every member of your team why customer experience management is relevant to them and their specific job. It will save you a lot of time (and money) down the road.
In order to know customers more comprehensively and anticipate their needs more accurately, you need to combine all available data in a single, unified portrait of individuals and targeted personas. The more integrated your data, the more clearly you can see through a customer's eyes.
Track Employee Experience
Customer experience surveys are useful for improving your team management. Many major corporations use NPS metrics internally as well, sending anonymous surveys to all staff members, in order to more accurately understand how employees feel about the work environment and specific campaigns. Anonymous surveys enable you to learn what your team really thinks, so hopefully you can keep improving their experience in the process.
The multifaceted nature of customer experience requires a multifaceted approach to management. If you're truly invested in improving customer experience, it’s a perennial task.
The cyclical nature of a CX management strategy ensures that your methods are always improving and you can always take accurate, honest inventory of your team's performance. With granular data collection and analytics you can even identify performance factors down to the individual touchpoints, team members, and incidents.
At the end of the day, a strong CX management system, integrated throughout your office and with all other data platforms, is really just a means to more easily, effectively, and authentically connect with people – your customers and your employees as well.
Doing that is no small task, but a management platform can take care of the calculations and the rote tasks that are required for any campaign at scale. You can stop worrying about the nuts and bolts of customer experience management, focusing instead on creative solutions and execution.