Your complete guide to Customer Experience Management.
Customer experience is an integral part of a service, but is often overlooked by service providers. For customers, it can be the deciding factor between choosing a service provider or going to their competitor. Investing in customer experience management can be the key in improving your business results. Learn more about it here.
What Is Customer Experience Management?
Customer experience management (CEM or CXM) is becoming one of the key differentiators for any brand. Businesses that ignore to invest in customer experience management struggle to survive. Consumers have come to expect more than a transaction from the companies they choose to interact with, they expect a positive experience. So what is customer experience management and why does it matter?
Customer experience definition
Customer experience is defined as the customers’ perceptions – both conscious and subconscious – of their relationship with a brand resulting from all their interactions with the brand during the customer life cycle. As for customer experience management, Gartner sums it up pretty well in their definition:
“Customer experience management (CXM) is the discipline of understanding customers and deploying strategic plans that enable cross-functional efforts and customer-centric culture to improve satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy.”
Customer experience management is about knowing the customers so completely that it is possible to create and deliver personalized, seamless experiences that will entice them to not only remain loyal but also evangelize to others. That’s the most valuable form of advertising there is.
The top three reasons businesses invest in customer experience management are:
- To improve customer retention
- To improve customer satisfaction
- To increase cross-selling and up-selling opportunities
What Makes a Great Customer Experience?
Great customer experience is made up of positive interactions with a brand in all instances, for example, the ability to easily connect through multiple channels, easy-to-use self-service options, well-targeted marketing offers, and loyalty to be rewarded. As customers have high demands it is increasingly important to be able to provide a seamless experience throughout the customer journey.
When it comes to access to services, most customers expect:
- A smooth process, from start to end
- To have their time valued
- Pleasant staff and interaction
- Knowledgeable and resourceful staff that can help them get the service in an efficient way
- Clarity and certainty about the whole process
The Importance of Customer Experience Management
So why is customer experience management important? Well, it has been proven that companies that successfully implement a customer experience strategy achieve:
- Increased staff and customer satisfaction
- Reduced customer churn
- Sales growth
- Cost reductions
- Productivity improvements
Customers that are happy with you and the product or service that you provide are more likely to become loyal repeat customers that recommend you to others via reviews and word-of-mouth. Most customers are even willing to pay more for a better customer experience.
It’s hard to think of a business that does not benefit from having a great customer experience. In fact, it is a differentiator. The customer has the power, not the seller. There are plenty of options to choose from in today’s market and if they don’t like you, they can easily move on to someone else.
How to Improve Customer Experience
So how do you improve your customer experience?
First of all, you have to get to know your customers and identify the key touchpoints along your customer journey, both in real-life and the digital touchpoints. It’s through customer feedback and analysis of data that you will get a clear picture of your customers’ wants and needs and be able to identify pain points in your customer journey.
Then create a straightforward customer experience vision that you can communicate with your organization to get the entire staff on board. The best results are achieved when everyone has a clear picture of the current situation, the goals, and what needs to be done to reach those goals.
Provide a seamless experience, online as well as offline
Customers expect an omnichannel experience with seamless service between communication methods. Online as well as offline.
A good place to start is by making a customer journey map to understand the entire customer journey. When you understand every touchpoint your customers have with your brand, you can focus on making each one of those touchpoints a positive experience and remove any obstacles.
A customer journey management solution helps you manage the customer experience – before, during, and after services – from appointment booking and arrival to service delivery and collecting customer feedback.
Customer expectations are created in the minds of customers and are influenced by previous experiences with you and with other companies, your outbound communication, reviews, and word of mouth. Customer expectations vary between different types of businesses/services. Having an understanding of how customer expectations work in your industry, and how they form and change over time is a great foundation for managing them.
Lack of clarity in communication has been widely cited as an issue that negatively affects the customer experience. To help manage expectations, always make sure that the communication that you provide is clear and honest. For example, use language and tone of voice that is appropriate for your customers, train service agents and staff properly, and communicate expected wait times and other important information in real-time, for example with messaging services and digital signage.
Offer flexibility and easy access
Customers crave personalized interactions and convenience in their interactions with businesses and service providers. They have come to expect a multitude of channels where they can interact with your brand at a time that suits them best.
An online appointment booking gives your customers easy access to your services anywhere, anytime and the flexibility to schedule appointments at any time of day, without being limited by office hours or having to wait on the phone.
Take away customers’ uncertainty by keeping them informed
Customer uncertainty arises when customers have incomplete or missing information. Take away customers’ uncertainty by keeping them informed every step of the way with regular messaging.
Messaging services and digital signage help keep customers in the loop at all touchpoints so they know what to expect and what to do every step of the way.
Reduce wait times, perceived as well as actual
No one likes waiting, especially if they don’t know how long they’re going to be waiting. Understanding why you might be struggling with long wait times gives you an idea of which solutions might benefit your operation.
Technical solutions such as an online appointment scheduling system and self check-in kiosks help streamline and take some of the pressure off staff. You might also benefit from virtual queueing that lets your customers wait wherever they want. An option that helps reduce perceived wait times.
Waiting in queue: Manage customers’ waiting experience
Tips on how to reduce long wait times
Equip your staff properly
Equip your staff with apps that give them the right information on customer visits to increase efficiency and service quality. Using a mobile or tablet, they have live information at hand while being mobile to greet or serve customers.
Address negative feedback and fix the problem
If you get negative feedback, it is of the uppermost importance to address it and fix the problem as quickly as possible. By giving the appropriate response you can even turn a negative experience into a positive one.
With customer feedback solutions, you can gather insights into your customers’ wants and needs and meet the ever-growing needs and demands of your customers.
Analyze the data
By integrating business intelligence resources across multiple channels in the customer journey you can build actionable insights that will help you fix problems and amplify things that are already working. This can really help remove friction in the customer journey with journey insights and analytics.
Customer experience optimization
On a high level, there are several ways to optimize the customer experience:
1. Identify the key touchpoints
These are the points in the customer journey where they interact with your business. Identifying these touchpoints will help you understand where to focus your efforts to improve the customer experience.
2. Gather customer feedback
Use surveys, social media, and other channels to gather feedback from your customers. This will help you understand their needs and preferences, and identify areas for improvement.
3. Analyze customer data
Use data and analytics to understand your customers' behaviors, preferences, and pain points. This will help you identify opportunities to improve the customer experience.
4. Create a customer-centric culture
Make sure that every member of your organization is focused on delivering a great customer experience. This may involve training, setting customer service standards, and recognizing employees who deliver excellent customer service.
5. Invest in the right technology
The right technology can help you deliver a seamless and convenient customer experience. This may include self-service options, such as online knowledge bases and chatbots, as well as tools that help you manage and analyze customer data.
6. Continuously improve
The customer experience is an ongoing process and it's important to continually assess and improve based on customer feedback and data.
Measuring Customer Experience
How to measure customer experience
It is very important to measure your customer experience, before you make changes/implement solutions and regularly, to make sure that what you are doing is improving your customer experience.
So how do you measure your customer experience? There are several ways.
Analyze customer survey results
Customer surveys provide insights into your customers’ experience with your brand and product/service. Customer surveys can be carried out in the form of simple onsite digital questionnaires with yes or no questions, online surveys, or more complex in-person interviews. Ask your customers how they feel about your products or services, about your level of service, delivery times, your staff – anything that is of importance to your business.
Identify the rate and reasons for customers abandoning you
Churn is a part of doing business, but by learning where and why it happens you can prevent it from happening again. Analyze churned customers to see if your churn rate is increasing or decreasing, find reasons for why customers are abandoning you and take action from there.
Create a forum for customer suggestions
Create a forum where customers can actively submit ideas to make your offering more useful. This doesn’t mean that you have to take action on every suggestion you receive, but if there are recurring trends, it might be worth looking into.
Analyze support ticket data
If you have a customer support ticketing system, you should also analyze the support tickets. Look for recurring topics, review the possible reasons for those hiccups, and find ways to solve them. It will help decrease the number of tickets and provide a more enjoyable customer experience.
Customer Experience Trends
Customer experience trends can vary from industry to industry, but there are some general trends that are relevant across many businesses. These include:
- Personalization: Customizing the customer experience to the individual customer is becoming more important. This can include using customer data to tailor recommendations, using the customer's name in communications, and offering a more customized service.
- Omnichannel experiences: Customers expect to be able to connect with businesses through a variety of channels, including in-person, online, and via mobile devices. Ensuring a consistent experience across all channels is critical.
- Self-service options: Many customers prefer to find answers to their questions and solve problems on their own, rather than contacting customer service. Providing self-service options, such as online knowledge bases and chatbots, can help improve the customer experience.
- Convenience: Customers value convenience and appreciate businesses that make it easy for them to shop, make purchases, and get support. This can include offering mobile apps, easy-to-use websites, and flexible delivery and return options.
- Social media: Social media is an important platform for customer service and can be used to resolve issues, gather feedback, and build brand loyalty.
- Customer feedback: Gathering and responding to customer feedback is crucial for improving the customer experience. This can be done through surveys, social media, and other channels.