We all know that happy customers are good for business. Delighted customers will spend more money and potentially become brand advocates, talking about your business positively, whereas unhappy customers are likely to do the very opposite!
Customer experience can be defined as every impression that your customers have gained about your business throughout the customer journey, from before they became a customer to the present. Your customers will have interacted with your business at various touchpoints and through a variety of interfaces, all of which combine to create the overall customer experience that is unique and specific to each and every customer.
The experiences that customers have with your business today are vitally important for your future. No pressure! We’ve gathered some information on this to help you out.
What is Customer Experience Management?
Since customer experience is clearly extremely valuable it’s no surprise that enterprises have endeavoured to monitor, analyse and take control of this vital aspect. Customer Experience Management (CEM or CXM) refers to everything that’s involved in optimising all customer interactions throughout the customer journey at every possible touchpoint. The fundamental aim is to provide the very best, totally personalized experiences which will contribute toward increased revenue, growth and brand loyalty by elevating customer satisfaction.
Customer experience management refers to the strategies used to monitor and track customer interactions, gather data and carry out evaluation in order to make continuous improvements. It requires a deep understanding of customer needs and desires along with practical capabilities to make appropriate improvements in order to exceed customer expectations.
Why is Customer Experience Management Important?
The days when, to achieve success in business, it was simply enough to offer a great product or service have long gone. While outstanding products or services continue to be vitally important, these days customer experience is the main differentiator across all industries.
Today’s enterprises are doing business in highly competitive global markets using increasingly sophisticated connectivity. It’s therefore essential that they keep up with fast-paced technological changes that are driving some customer expectations. CEM is required to keep pace with ever-changing and increasingly demanding customer expectations along with technological progress.
Excellent customer experience management will deliver:
- Reduced customer churn resulting in lower acquisition costs.
- Increased customer loyalty and brand advocacy.
- Increased revenue from more sales to existing, happy customers.
- Brand differentiation attracting customers from competition.
- New customers who are engaged by excellent customer experience.
- Maximum customer lifetime value.
Customer Experience Management Strategies
Since customer experience is affected by each and every interaction people have with a business, from both the pre-sales and post-sales, effective CEM strategies need to encompass all of these interactions. A customer experience strategy should define plans to analyse and optimise all touchpoints in order to deliver positive customer experiences.
Effective customer experience management strategies need to:
- Clearly understand every possible touchpoint along with the nature and quality of customer interactions that take place at each.
- Accurately identify and define specific customer expectations and how these apply at each touchpoint.
- Recognise business objectives.
- Fully appreciate the competitive landscape.
Touchpoints, Interactions and Engagement
A customer experience management plan should list all possible touchpoints alongside the nature of customer interactions that take place at each. The manner in which customers are engaged at each point should also be considered. Touchpoints refer to any interaction which can affect the way in which a customer feels about a product, service, brand or business.
Touchpoints can be broadly categorized into those over which you have complete control and others which you do not. A very important consideration when identifying and mapping your business touchpoints is that this must be carried out from the customer’s perspective. It’s also important to recognize that touchpoints are not channels. Channels are the various mechanisms used to support the touchpoints (commonly used channels are print media, face-to-face communications, social media, skype and live chats).
Touchpoints relate to the fulfillment of customer needs and desires whereas channels are the mechanisms provided by a business to fulfill those needs. For example, a prospective customer may want to place an order for a product or service which would be considered a touchpoint. The can potentially successfully achieve their aim by:
- Submitting a physical order for the product or service by post.
- Placing their order online via their mobile phone.
- Placing their order online via the business website.
- Ordering the required product or service verbally over the phone.
An important aspect of customer experience management is clearly understanding all channels and importantly, all customer touchpoints from a customer’s perspective. Customer journey mapping aids this understanding and supports optimisation and enhancement of the customer journey.
Define Your Business Goals
What are the business objectives that your customer experience strategy is required to support? It’s worth identifying and clearly defining exactly what a successful customer experience management strategy will deliver. It might be increased sales, more customers, reduced customer churn, gaining customers from a new market or maximising your customer-lifetime-value.
When defining business objectives and goals, it’s important to be very specific about the timescale and what success will look like. Business goals can be beneficially specified for both the short term and long term.
Create Representative Customer Profiles
In order to appreciate the experiences of your varied customers it’s useful to create a collection of representative customer profiles or personas. Give your personas real, representative names to make them more human and be sure to define personas that represent all of the key attributes of your target audience.
Your customer personas should include details of their respective expectations alongside their motivations. When creating customer journeys and analysing touchpoints these personas can potentially highlight weaknesses which would possibly result in suboptimal customer experiences and which should therefore be fixed.
Gather Customer Feedback at Every Touchpoint
The ability to gather customer feedback at every touchpoint, in real time, is extremely valuable when assessing and developing customer experience. An unobtrusive mechanism that asks the right question at exactly the right time in an engaging manner that can’t be resisted by customers is what’s needed.
Directly surveying customers to derive valuable feedback in relation to specific touchpoints and interactions is one of the most powerful elements in an effective customer experience management strategy. Customer Thermometer is optimally designed for this application. By asking just one, highly relevant question at precisely the right moment in the customer’s journey and allowing respondents to provide additional commentary if they desire, a high response rate can be gained.
Measuring Customer Experience
Quantifying customer experience is challenging. Various metrics such as customer satisfaction (CSAT) and Net Promoter Score (NPS) are commonly used but they all have limitations and they are not all applicable at every stage of a customer’s journey.
Here’s a summary of various metrics that are commonly used to represent customer experience along with some notes regarding their respective usage.
1. Net Promoter Score (NPS)
Asks the simple question: ‘How likely are you to recommend [your business] to others?’.
NPS assessment is only really applicable at the end of a process. For example, after a product has been delivered or after a service call has been completed.
2. Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)
Customers are asked to rate their experience on a scale.
Can be used to assess specific interactions such as placing an order, requesting support or setting up an account.
3. Customer Effort Score (CES)
Customer effort score quantifies the effort required to carry out an interaction.
Can be used to assess specific interactions via appropriately delivered surveys.
4. Churn Rate
A count or percentage of the number of customers lost over a given period of time.
Customer experience management should contribute to a decreasing churn rate over time.
5. Retention Rate
A measure of the number or percentage of customers who remain customers over a given time period.
Effective customer experience management will result in a progressively increasing retention rate.
6. Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
A prediction of exactly how much profit will be gained from a customer throughout the period they remain a customer.
Extending the customer lifetime period and increasing the amounts they spend over time will positively affect the CLV.
Customer experience management will contribute toward retaining clients and driving increased sales hence raising the CLV.
7. Visitor Intent
Defines the reasons why people have come to a website.
Visitor intent can be broadly categorized as transactional (placing an order) or informational (finding answers or reviews).
The intent of visitors to business websites can be assessed from website analytics by examining the specific search queries that were used, the pages through which visitors entered the site, the amount of time they spent on those pages and where they went after finding the information they were seeking.
Customer Experience Management Best Practices
Here’s a summary of what we consider to be the most important CX management best practices in 2019.
- Develop a customer-centered focus
- It’s important to start with the customer and view CX from their perspectives.
- Empathize and emotionally connect with your customers
- Customer experience is all about emotion and feelings.
- Develop a deep understanding of your customers’ emotional responses to your organization at very touchpoint.
- Assign CX management and set realistic, attainable goals.
- Make it clear who is responsible for customer experience management.
- Clearly define attainable CEM objectives.
- Create customer journey maps.
- Create a representative collection of customer journey maps.
- Routinely review, revise, update and augment your customer journey mapping data.
- Maintain industry awareness
- It’s important to remain highly aware of your industry, competitors the marketplace and relevant developments that influence customer experience.
Role of the Customer Experience Manager
As businesses have become aware of the need for great customer experience many now employ dedicated customer experience managers. In fact many larger organisations have dedicated customer experience departments who work closely with other customer-facing teams to ensure that all aspects of customer interaction are as optimal as possible.
By examining a number of CEM positions the following typical requirements of the role were derived.
- To continuously and consistently improve the quality of customer experience.
- Make use of Net Promoter Score, CSAT, CES and other metrics to quantify CX and measure improvement over time.
- To collate and analyse all customer complaints and reports of dissatisfaction.
- Create and maintain representative customer journey maps and share these with relevant departments.
- Work with user interface designers to optimise products and web interfaces.
- Develop and promote a customer-centric focus within the organisation.
Customer Experience Management is an exciting field with many excellent opportunities. Fulfilling customer expectations, driving ever higher levels of customer satisfaction to create outstanding customer experiences is what will underpin the future success of many enterprises.
Give Customer Thermometer a trial and find out how your customers feel! You will quickly see how easily implemented, simple surveys deliver great response rates that will improve your customer service.