Rated as a top strategic objective, Customer Experience Management (CEM/CXM) continues to be a buzzword in the customer service industry. Majority of organizations view customer experience as a strong competitive differentiator and a critical factor for ensuring their continuing growth. Survey reports suggest that customers switch service providers primarily due to poor customer service experiences. So, what is customer experience? Can experience be created or measured?

Forbes describes customer experience as the “cumulative impact of multiple touch points” over the course of a customer’s interaction with an organization. According to Harvard Business Review, it is the sum-totality of how customers engage with a company or brand, not just in a snapshot in time, but throughout the entire arc of being a customer. Simply put, customer experience is more than a one-time experience that a customer has during his/her relationship with an organization. Transcending beyond just one transaction, it covers the complete lifetime relationship between a customer and an organization. So, understanding customer experience is crucial for effective customer relationship management.

Failure of an organization to deliver and manage consistent and satisfactory experiences throughout the customer journey, can be detrimental. This can lead to customer churn and irreparable damage to its brand image. On the contrary, the ability to deliver an experience that meets or exceeds customers’ expectations can fetch benefits beyond the expected improvements in customer satisfaction and loyalty.  It can help generate additional sales through repeat customers and word-of-mouth recommendations.

So, how can organizations ensure a consistent customer experience across all channels? Surely, managing differentiated and unwavering customer experiences across all customer touchpoints is not a cakewalk. But, with a new 3D framework proposed below, organizations can easily create, deliver and manage a consistent experience across multiple channels:

customer experience management

Discover Your Customers’ Opinion

It’s been rightly said by Steve Jobs, “Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves”.  And this cannot be accomplished without knowing what your customers really want or expect from you. This is where the need for customer insights stands up. Analytics can reveal useful insights on customer needs, preferences and behavior, and thus help optimize the customer journey at critical touchpoints.

Discovering what customers feel and think about your organization will broadly encompass the following steps:

  • Collect data from diverse customer touchpoints
  • Leverage new tools and techniques that make traditional and nontraditional data sources work together
  • Analyze the data to extract actionable insights

Some of the widely used techniques to collect customer data or the VOC are as follows:

  • Customer Surveys: These are useful to know how your customers feel about your organization in their own words. Customer surveys can be used to collect customer feedback from channels like email, website, phone, point of sale, etc.
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS): This is a customer loyalty metric used to determine the loyalty of an organization’s customer relationships. NPS is built on a direct question: How likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?
  • Customer Effort Score (CES): This is a powerful metric to measure how hard or easy it is for customers to interact or do business with your organization. With one single question, it seeks to measure customer satisfaction, in a bid to reduce customer effort and create a frictionless customer experience.
  • Social Media Sites, Blogs and Review Sites: Recently, customers have started posting their opinions freely on social sites. The user-generated content on social media sites, blogs and review sites can offer great detail about customer experience challenges, as well as, ideas to resolve them.

Design Your Customer Experience

Once the insights are available on what customers expect and where the gaps are, you can start designing your own customer experience. The process of designing the experience will largely include the following steps:

  • Map your customers’ journey with your organization
  • Outline the critical touchpoints where you want to differentiate
  • Determine what you want your customers to experience at those touchpoints
  • Think over your brand promise and how you will deliver it at each touch-point
  • Link the VOC findings to business metrics
  • Address the pain points of your customers
  • Optimize the CEM process by linking together strategies, data, systems, tools and departments

Deliver Your Customer Experience

The process of delivering the experience will essentially incorporate the following steps:

  • Align your people, process and technology to deliver the designed experience
  • Ensure transparency and uniformity in interactions through a customer-centric information architecture
  • Measure business metrics linked to the VOC findings
  • Engage customers for continuous improvements

Putting customers at the heart of your CEM initiative is crucial to achieve optimal results. After receiving the initial feedback, you can update your customers on the actions taken in response and ask them to track the subsequent results of their feedback. By establishing a transparent process, you can not only build higher levels of engagement with your customers, but also get their constant support in improving the customer experience.