Simply put, customer experience is the cumulative perception of the brand or the company resulting from the customer’s interaction. Therefore, great customer experience can mean meeting or exceeding the expectations of the customer during all interactions with the brand or the company. Customer experience management (CXM) is the process of designing and optimizing customer interactions to deliver great customer experience. Customer experience management focuses on understanding the customers’ needs, what they are purchasing when they are making purchases, and delivering these with minimal customer friction. According to David Clarke, global chief experience officer at PwC, “Customer experience management is the management of customer interactions through each physical and digital touchpoint to deliver personalized experiences that drive brand loyalty and increase revenue”. Just to put things into perspective with numbers, according to research carried out by Zendesk, a customer service company, 52% of customers stopped buying a product after a bad service interaction, whilst 42% of customers purchased more after a positive service experience.
Therefore, the customer’s perception of the brand or company will determine the loyalty to the brand. An effective and actionable customer experience management strategy can assist in product development, create brand preference through differentiated consumer experience, lower costs by minimizing customer churn, increase sales and draw in new clients through word-of-mouth advertising.
CXM: WHY IS IT IMPORTANT AND HOW CAN IT HELP?
It is important to understand the human aspect of a business. Humans tend to recall negative experiences or emotions easier than recalling positive ones. It is even more true in the case of brands because the customers feel that they are paying for the service and so deserve a good experience with the brand. Our reader can get in on an experiment. Try to think about the last time you had a great experience with a brand. Now think about the last time you had a really bad experience with a brand. Our readers will find it easier to recall a bad experience than the good one. The reasoning behind this is a bad experience conflict with the customer’s expectations and interrupts their day. The customers anticipate that the brands will always meet their needs and wants. News of bad customer experience may spread through social media and word-of-mouth.
A brand could deliver good customer experience at every touch-point but a negative experience at a singular touch-point may make all other efforts and experiences moot. As mentioned at the beginning of the article, customer experience affects brand perception and loyalty. Customer experience management (CXM) is the management of customer interactions through each physical and digital touchpoint to deliver personalized experiences that drive brand loyalty and increase revenue. CXM will allow addressing the shortcomings in delivering desired customer experience and also assist in planning, designing, and executing operational models that center around delivering great customer experience.
CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE: HOW TO MANAGE?
To understand the customer experience, it can be useful to visualize the customer journey. The customer journey map identifies the steps taken by the target individual before becoming a loyal customer and the key touchpoints that customers have with your business. Visualization of the customer journey will facilitate in developing metrics to measure customer satisfaction and identify areas of improvement.
Voice of the Customer (VoC) program is a vital tool in collecting, analyzing, correlating, and developing reports on feedbacks such as expectations, likes, and dislikes of your customers associated with the brand. It gives the brand much-needed insight into the customers’ experiences and then the brand can identify trends and opportunities to improve customer experience.
Another interesting aspect to note is that happy employees cultivate happy customers. A big part of providing a positive work environment is providing the tools to empower employees to do their job well. It means streamlining customer insight across the organization and providing the right technology for greater customer experience.
STAGES OF CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE MANAGEMENT
Before designing and rolling out a CXM program, the brand needs to understand which stage of CXM maturity level they are currently in.
Stage 1 – Non-existent. At this maturity stage, the brand does not recognize CXM as a crucial aspect or a competitive differentiator.
Stage 2 – Fragmented. The management has committed to improving customer experience and began to build a customer experience management and development team. At this level, the brand or the company is also working on developing a customer experience strategy. The most immediate customer dissatisfactions that are hurting the business are the primary focus of the customer experience transformation program.
Stage 3 – Operationalized. The brand’s operational basis and customer management protocol has been re-designed based on customer insight and other customer experience metrics. At this stage, the cross-functional customer experience management team works on engaging the entire workforce in the strategy.
Stage 4 – Industrialized. The final stage of a CX transformation is to integrate and industrialize the customer journey design and management into everyday decisions and practices. The transition requires the institutionalization of a CXM process that ensures the organization can continuously monitor, manage, and improve the customer journeys in line with the brand promise and changing competitive dynamics and customer needs.
DEVELOPING A CXM STRATEGY
It is prudent for the brands to collect, track, store, analyze, personalize, and execute relevant interactions with customers and prospects and can do this primarily through CXM software. This will provide the brand with valuable insights and statistics. CXM software can also incorporate systems like CRM, web content management, personalization engines, social media monitoring, web analytics, and most platforms within the digital experience platform ecosystem. CXM software falls into the following categories: Location-based services, Mobile marketing, Social media monitoring, Customer Data Analytics, and Knowledge Management Systems.
Gathering data and analyzing them are great statistical tools that create working grounds for understanding customers. But it is important to remember that customers are after all humans. Successful customer-experience efforts apply a human filter to the collected data to ask overarching questions. Tackling these questions requires a concerted analytical effort, which helps an organization design and implements a more sophisticated program and, critically, persuades employees to embrace its goals.
A four-quadrant matrix, similar to a compass, may be developed to assist the brand to plan a customer-satisfaction program by identifying emotional mindsets, wishes, and needs.
North. Focuses on the needs of the customer that has to be satisfied with the interaction with the brand. Some needs are stated, but it is important to understand that many are not.
West. Another aspect to determine is the underlying “want” behind every customer’s needs. A customer may consciously expect the brand to address certain needs. If the brand is unaware of the sub-conscious want of the customer, the brand will fail to live up to expectations.
South. Stereotypes, or preconceived notions, be it either positive or negative, will drive customers’ experience individually. The same experience may be held in a different light by two customers just because they have different principles.
East. Customers will experience emotions while interacting with a brand. Negative emotions will have a lasting and damaging impact on the brand.
When the matrix is completed, it will give the brand a more humane view of the customer experience. Correlating the matrix with statistical data will allow the brand to correctly develop a CXM strategy.
Great customer experience, if executed correctly, may become the key differentiator between two brands. The brand loyalty that great customer experience can foster will go a long way.
The world has now griped with a pandemic and, the future of life and economy is uncertain. At this point, developing a CX strategy and rolling out a CXM program would be considered prudent, if not necessary. Because customers will not forget nor forgive the brand that added to their grief at the time of their darkest hour. Customers will remember the brands that stood beside them and gave them their necessities at the time of their plight. This will help customers identify with the brand and bond with it. Happy customers will ensure the survival of businesses, which are at risk. The modality of business will shift with this pandemic and having a CX strategy will become an integral component for any business entity. So, brands should make the first move and ensure they deliver great experience consistently.