Customers are more informed and attentive than ever. With over two billion connected people using their real identities, there are no more strangers online.
Nowadays, customers do not just consume but comment, criticise, interact or otherwise say their opinion and do so with high bargaining power.
And the way they choose to apply this power is directly influenced by their experience or the sum of all the feelings associated with each interaction with your brand.
What is customer experience management and why should you focus on it?
“Consumers have never been so hard to please, and marketers have never had so many opportunities to satisfy them.”
In today’s economy, Customer Experience (CX) and Customer Experience Management (CEM or CXM), are expressions that have become of greater and greater importance for companies, as they started realising that they should be 100% customer-oriented and based on the connection with it.
If you have not already done so, before going ahead, I’d advise you to study in depth the most modern strategies for managing contacts in your organisation.
What does customer experience mean?
The customer experience is the sum of all the experiences that a customer or a decision maker has with a company during its entire life cycle, from product awareness, through contact, social media, to the transaction itself or feedback on post-purchase, both in B2C and in B2B or B2B2C markets.
The customer experience can more merely refer to the quality of an individual experience that a customer has during a single transaction.
Keep in mind that the whole relationship can have different methods and timing, from a single transaction to many years of brand loyalty and repeat purchases.
The key to strengthening a relationship to ensure that a customer returns after that first transaction is to create and manage an excellent customer experience that sets you apart from the competition.
Why managing the customer experience of your brand is so important?
Customer experience is defined as the perception of your clients, both conscious and subconscious, of their relationship with your brand resulting from all their interactions with it during their life cycle.
Managing the customer experience is more than controlling the buying process (the buyer journey).
It’s about knowing your customers so entirely that you can create and offer personalised experiences that will convince them not only to remain faithful but also to make other consumers aware of your existence. And this is the most valuable form of promotion you can imagine.
The goal of customer experience management is to optimise interactions and to retain customers. A company must create a strategy focused on the customer experience that includes all interactions and touchpoints.
Customer experience is the new marketing
Acquiring this in-depth customer knowledge is not something that you’ll find under a rock, but comes from extracting information from all touchpoints and customer channels throughout your organisation.
On the one hand, you can take advantage of the enormous amount of information available online and offline, and extract valuable data from quickly and precisely.
On the other hand, enabling qualitative research to go deeper into people’s behaviour.
The definition of CEM: Customer Experience Management
Gartner defines customer experience management (CEM) as “the practice of designing and reacting to customer interactions to meet or exceed customer expectations and, thus, increase customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.”
It is a strategy that requires process changes and some technology to exist.
The term customer experience management means the ability to reach, engage and transparently listen to customers through the various channels, business units, markets and all the teams that address the customer.
But not only. Another essential definition of customer experience management is as follows:
customer experience management is the collection and management of all the processes that a company uses to track, measure and organise every interaction with a customer, throughout the entire lifecycle.
We could also call it CRM 2.0.
Customer Experience Management includes all the processes that a company uses to track, supervise and organise every interaction between a customer and the organisation during the entire life cycle of the customer.
The objective of the CEM is to optimise the interactions from the point of view of the customers and to retain them.
To better manage the customer experience, a company must create a strategy that includes all interactions with it through traditional channels, such as phone calls and live chat, as well as social media and other emerging media.
Customer experience management is a strategy used to track, supervise and organise all interactions, to help a company to focus on the real needs of its customers.
The ideal customer experience management
A CEM software can help give all members of your organisation a complete view of the customer, whose benefits include better customer service, better customer loyalty, higher conversion rates and hopefully an improvement in the overall Customer Lifetime Value.
Softwares and AI play a crucial role in gathering and automatically analysing customer feedbacks in depth, providing full access to analysis and reports.
Towards enabling technologies and integrated reporting
Very simply, a CEM system collects and manage (differently from a CRM) feedback that will create results that can then be used to measure, understand and improve the customer experience.
Offering exceptional customer experiences can help create loyal brand advocates who are more likely to spread positive word of mouth to your brand.
Strengthening brand loyalty leads to more revenue, because brand advocates often spend more, buy more products or services, and come back to your company more frequently.
CEM softwares can also help identify customers who are on the verge of moving away from you, helping the marketing and sales team decide to offer promotions or any other incentive to keep them loyal.
Furthermore, when collecting feedbacks from your users, a CEM software is much cheaper than traditional methods, as the latter can be time-consuming and expensive to develop, while the surveys made available by the CEM are quick and direct.
CEM and CRM: a perfect couple
Add new communication channels to your growing list of contacts, and you’ll soon realise that things can get complicated: there are more data to be processed from multiple sources; furthermore, these data must be integrated with those of existing customer accounts.
However, companies are also more easily acquiring the right business intelligence and customer data to learn more about how to market and sell in a more personalised way.
Customisation strategies include new technologies, such as mobile marketing, location-based services and “beacons”, which are sensors distributed in physical spaces that help companies identify where customers are and bring them closer to deliver messages in real-time. For example, imagine a shopping mall where every shop could send you automated notifications with offers on your phone only and if you’re close by.
Combining customer relationship management (CRM) data with financial, inventory management, and real-time data on social platforms can be difficult.
CEM Platforms like HubSpot or Zendesk that operates as CEM aim to fill the gaps between communication channels while simplifying the integration with databases.
This software also integrates sales, marketing and services data with all the information on customers already present in the system, so that data from different sources are not part of separate silos and therefore isolated.
Proper management of customer experience can bring significant, often unexpected benefits.
The concept of customer experience may seem idealistic, but anyone who repudiates it as such is undoubtedly out of the world.
In fact, the customer experience has become a fundamental differentiator in today’s hyper-competitive and hyper-connected global market.
There is a tangible business value in the effective management of the customer experience.
Proper management of the customer experience can:
- Strengthen brand preference through differentiated and personalised experiences
- Increase revenue with incremental sales from existing customers and new from word of mouth sales
- Improve customer loyalty through valued and memorable customer interactions
- Reduce costs by reducing the rate of customer abandonment
What do marketers need to do to overcome the challenges of customer experience management?
- Create consistent experiences with brands across all channels
While customers may be willing to accept different levels of service from different channels, they expect your brand value proposition to stay consistent. But the proliferation of media makes it difficult to guarantee this consistency across all channels.
- Integration of channel and brand experiences
An integrated channel experience is highly desirable but difficult to achieve. The technology, process, management can all become obstacles.
- Consolidate customer data in one view
Having an overview of the customer through interactions, channels, products and time would facilitate the creation of unified and coordinated customer communications. Departmental silos, fragmented data and inconsistent processes make this challenge insurmountable.
Be guided by the needs of the customer, not the possibilities technology offers
Probably the biggest mistake that innovators make is to be seduced by the potential of a technology, rather than being guided by the real needs of a customer.
The farther you are from the customer, the more difficult it is to assess the impact that technological innovation will have on real customer experience. This is the trap of technological innovation.
Innovation starts with the potential of a technology and starts towards the way it could be applied to a user environment; this can lead to putting the technology first instead of the user.
Try to model the technology on the user and not the user on the technology.
There are many factors that could affect the customer experience and knowing where to start can be difficult.
Here are three simple steps for managing the customer experience:
- Create and maintain complete and updated profiles of your buyers
- Customise all interactions with customers
- Always get the right information in the right place at the right time
1. Create and maintain complete and updated profiles of your buyers
To deliver a high-quality customer experience, you need to know your customer like never before.
This means creating and maintaining complete customer profiles that help you understand and measure customer paths at every point of contact across multiple channels.
The more you know your customers, the more effective you will be in providing relevant offers to them. The more relevant your offers are, the closer is the relationship between your business and your client, generating metrics such as credibility and loyalty.
Historically, companies have used structured data as demographic and transactional data to build customer profiles.
Today it is necessary to include emerging data types: social media, video and geolocation, linked together with coordination between multiple channels.
By analysing the “traditional” and structured data in combination with the new data types, you can:
- Discover how to improve the customer experience in specific points of contact
- Understand what your customers want and what they expect you to do for them
- Make better decisions faster
2. Customise all interactions
Once you have a thorough understanding of the customer, you can use it to customise each interaction. Remember to focus not only on the client but also on the context in which it operates.
Your data can help you keep that focus, especially if you continue to enrich existing data with new sources. By adding context to the customer focus, it is possible to provide relevant and in-depth offers, advice and services when a client is more receptive.
Remember that customers today have more decision-making power and choice than ever before. If you do not provide a personalised, relevant and timely message, you will risk losing them. But if you do, you will get constant loyalty to your brand.
3. Always get the right information, in the right place, at the right time
To offer the maximum value in each customer contact point and to improve the experience, it is necessary to map the analytics in specific phases of its life cycle, to deliver the right message in the right place at the right time.
Every phase of the life cycle is essential, from initial awareness to evaluation, at the time of purchase and even to post-purchase experience.
Each phase is an opportunity to improve the customer experience and to get more information that you can use to draw inspiration for the next move.
In recent decades, we have witnessed the evolution of tools and technologies that respond to customer needs.
From direct marketing and call centres to web analytics, segmented email marketing and social media. The evolution of technologies with tactics and related strategies is continuous because continuous is the change in the purchasing behaviour.
But the various solutions to date, even if valid, have been focused on the specific channel. Thinking of them as separate and independent entities, such as CRM or CMS or SMMS, is hampering our ability to create an end-to-end journey for customers.
Today we ask entrepreneurs, consultants, brand managers, marketers and salespeople, to look at the technological landscape of managing relations, through a new perspective.
We need to look at customer experience management as a unified set of functionalities and tools, not as silent products based on simple integrations; as an industry in itself and not a set of transversal concepts.
The service you need to provide your customers from now on
It is recommended to adopt the same unified approach with its own technological infrastructure. Although it is naïve to assume that a platform can regulate everything.
It is time to move from an approach that focuses on effectiveness to an approach that aims at integration, which is able to encompass several functionalities in a single solution to manage the customer experience in a holistic way.
Start with social networks as a basis for the customer experience.
Social channels are infamously complex and evolving and you will need a centralised platform to reach, engage and listen to customers on over 24 channels through marketing, advertising, research, support and eCommerce.
When integrating social media with email marketing, website, CRM, etc., you will discover the real value of these systems.
Providing an exceptional customer experience requires knowledge so that you can customise each interaction in the most qualified way.
Turn customer service from one-off transactions to sustainable, informed and strong customer relationships. By monitoring and understanding each customer’s specific preferences and needs, you can dynamically manage their experience and add the right resources to each interaction.
Make it an experience worth remembering.
Make every interaction have value, within an integrated experience
Instead of managing each customer interaction independently, connect all of your client’s contacts with your company within their entire journey. Track interactions through the web, mobile and customer service.
Customers looking for information on your website can click to interact with you via chat, call or video. They can do the same from a mobile device. Connect all the contact points of your customers, creating an easy multi-channel experience.
Customer experience management: the most important investment for the future of your company (starting from CRM)
A structured customer experience management strategy is extremely rare to find today.
This lack, widely reported by numerous studies, makes sure that the few players in different industries can obtain an extremely high return on investment.
While most companies pursue goals such as loyalty, service excellence and differentiation, on the other hand, the customer experience is in no way still managed, measured, considered or monitored.
But customer loyalty is something that can not be obtained magically through marketing campaigns or simple commercial incentives.
Customer experience management crosses multiple departments and IT systems. How do organisations face the enormous task of mapping this growing entropy?
What is fundamental to understand
Whether you’ve just started using softwares to support your customer relationship management process or developing a completely new customer-centered vision for your entire organisation, the quality of your customer experiences should be key to your strategy for business growth.
It is necessary to build meaningful relationships to differentiate the brand and help keep customers, increasing their life cycle.
In a world where customers have control over the buying process, one thing is sure: the direction your business needs to take will not be defined within your organisation but will be modelled directly by your customers.
But first of all, start by finding out how to apply an effective contact management strategy.
..and if you want to learn more about how customer experience management can increase the return on investment of your marketing, sales and customer service activities by up to 76%, do not hesitate to contact us!