Consumers experience your brand in many different ways, whether by using your product and interacting with customer support, or through word-of-mouth on channels outside of your control. And with each new interaction, their perception of your brand can change, potentially leading to a new customer or a lost one.

Welcome to a new era of marketing and service in which your brand is defined by those who experience it.”

– Brian Solis, Principal Analyst and Futurist, Altimeter

The stakes are high. While 86% of those who received a great customer experience were likely to repurchase from the same company, 32% would abandon a brand they love after even one negative interaction.

So, how do you go about ensuring more positive customer interactions and fewer negative ones?

For starters, you need to understand what customers are experiencing, what their expectations are of those experiences, and if your business is delivering on those expectations. From there, it’s best to evaluate the following:

  • How do you keep track of customer experiences, expectations, and sentiment?
  • What if customers don’t proactively share their thoughts?
  • What if you have valuable customer insights already, but they are trapped within siloed departments at your company?

These are the challenges that effective Customer Experience Management (CXM) can solve. CXM is the strategy behind gaining data on what customers are experiencing and using that information to improve how your business delivers on customer expectations.

This guide will teach you the who, what, where, when, and how of effective customer experience management, so you can launch your own customer experience program. Let’s dive in!

The what, where, and why of customer experience management (CXM)

To understand what Customer Experience Management is, it’s important to first understand what exactly customer experience is.

Customer experience (CX) is the overall perception of your brand in the eyes of your customer, based on the individual and accumulated interactions they have with and about your brand.

This means there isn’t just one interaction that defines customer experience. It’s any and all interactions.

To be able to improve customer experiences, you need to be able to track, measure, and understand it all. As you can imagine, doing so can be quite the undertaking.

Customer Experience Management (CXM) is the answer. CXM is the continual effort to gather intelligence on the customer experience throughout the customer journey, so your entire company can unify behind a customer-driven business strategy.

In other words, CXM focuses on learning how customer interactions can be improved and then taking action to improve them. It isn’t a one-off project or something that should be relegated to a specific department. It’s a system for continual improvement across your company.

Where is CXM done?

As we just covered, customer experience happens everywhere people see or engage with your brand. This includes every feature used within your digital product, every engagement with your customer support and sales representatives, every in-store visit, and every marketing communication people see.

Every interaction people have with or about your brand is a moment of judgement.

Where these interactions happen are called touchpoints. Prospective and current customers may experience dozens of touchpoints during their journey with your business, and not all touchpoints carry equal weight. For example, one poor customer service experience can overshadow and undermine a streak of positive experiences on other touchpoints.

Effective Customer Experience Management starts with identifying what the unique touchpoints are for your business. Retail customer experience touchpoints may include in-store locations, an ecommerce website, and many others before (review sites, social media, etc.), during (sales reps, point of sale experience, etc.), and after (receipts, customer support, etc.). A completely online business may focus primarily on digital customer experience touchpoints, such as a website, online chat, email, etc.

Once you know your touchpoints, you can start to prioritize which to focus on improving to have the biggest positive impact on customer sentiment.

Why invest in customer experience management?

Investing in Customer Experience Management can give your whole company more insight on how customers experience your brand, what needs to be improved, and how to go about improving.

The benefits to your company on these insights are huge. Here are just a few:

CXM strengthens company culture

Customer Experience Management can transform your organization into one that is customer focused, giving your team a mission and values to rally behind and a process for acting on them to benefit customers. This is a recipe for improved employee engagement and happiness, which translates to improved experiences for customers. For instance, 70% of engaged employees indicate a good understanding of how to meet customer needs, compared to just 17% of disengaged employees.

CXM informs product development

76% of consumers expect businesses to understand their expectations and needs. Customer Experience Management helps you uncover what those expectations are and how your team can deliver on them. Not only that, CXM by nature is designed to ensure that your entire organization has visibility into your customers’ thoughts, actions, and behaviors. The benefit of this is that this company-wide awareness can help generate new ideas and improvements to enhance the experiences of your customers.

CXM retains and expands revenue

Customer Experience Management proactively solves customers’ problems before they decide to stop doing business with your brand and eventually churn. CXM also uncovers opportunities to upsell current customers — if you are able to deliver better experiences to customers, then up to 86% of buyers will be willing to pay you more for the same services.

CXM drives word-of-mouth and fuels marketing

Customer Experience Management helps you create delightful experiences that people want to tell others about. It also drives positive customer testimonials and reviews that can be leveraged to improve marketing performance. By the end of 2020, customer experience will be a more important brand differentiator for buyers than price and product.

“A good customer experience is actually less expensive to provide than a poor one and customers will pay more for a good one than for a bad one. Nothing drives profitability like an excellent customer experience does.”

– Dan Hesse, PNC, Previously CEO of Sprint

Beyond these benefits of CXM, a more concrete analysis of the ROI on Customer Experience Management is also possible. Return on Experience (ROX) can be quantified to further prove the value of CXM for your company.

More reading on the what, where, and why of Customer Experience Management:

An actionable customer experience management (CXM) framework

By now, we’re sure you’re ready to hit the ground running and launch your Customer Experience Management program. That said, the below framework offers a high-level customer experience strategy to help guide your efforts.

“Too many customer experience decisions are driven by shiny object syndrome and panic. There is too much of a focus on doing the same things competitors are doing in a better way, rather than developing a framework that delivers maximum results and returns for a specific company.”

– Peter S. Fader, Professor of Marketing, The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania

Empower customer centricity as you launch a CXM program

With so many potential ways customers can experience your brand, nearly everyone in your company is responsible in one way or another for making sure that customers remain engaged with your business by consistently having their expectations met. Aligning your organization around the customer and enabling employees with a clear strategy is critical to Customer Experience Management success.

Improve understanding of the customer experience

Improving awareness across your organization of how the company is performing with customers and the interactions contributing to that performance is a good place to start.

Your company could already be tracking core operational metrics that indicate overall business performance with customers. Here are a few important ones to track:

  • Churn rate: the rate at which customers stop doing business with you.
  • Retention rate: the percentage of customers that remain customers over a given time period.
  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): the customer’s total revenue value over the lifespan of your relationship with them.

At the end of the day, your goal is to improve your key operational metrics. But, tracking operational metrics alone is not enough.

“What we’ve seen is that although binary conversion is very important, it’s not as important as the whole journey, conversion only gives you a descriptive view of any issues but not a diagnostic one.”

– Alex Allen, CMO, Spring Venture Group

The interactions that people have with your brand can contribute directly to operational metric performance. To be able to understand how to improve interactions, your organization needs to first understand the touchpoints where they happen.

Customer journey mapping

Plot the touchpoints people experience with your unique business before, during, and after purchase. Think of a customer journey map as a visual guide of the touchpoints to track, measure, analyze, and improve.

Company leadership should work with each department (sales, support, marketing, product, etc.) to detail their respective touchpoints and produce your company’s unique customer journey map.

“Think about every touchpoint your company has with its prospects and customers, and ask yourself if you are talking in their language, or yours.”

– Dan Gingiss, CX Author

From there, aim to gain a baseline understanding of how each touchpoint is performing. This data can be found in tools you likely already use. Social media software, customer support software, CRM software, and product analytics platforms should all provide reporting on interactions and performance of their respective touchpoints.

The most impactful way to mobilize your company around improving customer experiences is to improve transparency and understanding of the various ways customers interact with you. By making your operational metrics, customer journey map, and touchpoint performance data as accessible as possible across your organization, you’ll be off to a great start.

Establish customer-centric values and processes

With customer-focused leadership and improved transparency comes more customer-focused collaboration, a sense of urgency, and accountability. This benefits not just your customers, but your company culture as well.

“Being customer-first does not mean being company-second – it means being company-also.”

– Augie Ray, Gartner

Internal feedback will start to surface from each department on how improvements can be made. You will learn the challenges each department faces, opportunities for improvement, and anecdotal experiences they have had with customers.

This new dialogue helps establish customer-centric values that the whole company can embrace. It will also help establish processes that improve internal collaboration to truly impact customer experiences.

Set goals for improvement

Performance transparency, clear values and processes, and improved internal collaboration make it much easier to set goals and stay accountable to them.

Company leadership should work with their teams to identify how they can best impact operational metrics, touchpoint performance, and customer experiences. Then, set specific goals they can work towards.

The rest of this guide can teach you how to go about better understanding customer experiences and how improvements can be made to achieve your goals.

Use CX data to measure customer experiences

While operational metrics and touchpoint performance data provide a high-level understanding of the customer experience, they don’t provide much insight on customer sentiment or how to improve. To get this insight, you need to measure customer experiences and gather more data.

“Brands leveraging the right data and analytics to deliver impactful customer experiences will rise to the top.”

— Andy Yost, CMO, Gannett

Build your customer experience management program around feedback

The best way to learn why individual people do the things they do, and gauge their sentiment along the way, is to ask them directly.

This is where a Voice of the Customer (VoC) program comes in. Voice of the Customer is a closed-loop process of collecting written or spoken feedback on customer experiences and expectations. Feedback can be collected directly (focus groups, surveys, etc.) or indirectly (monitoring of social media channels, forums, review sites, etc.).

Customer experience surveying is the most proactive way to drive a VoC program forward and collect the qualitative data you need to understand why customers act and feel the way they do about your business.

The right customer experience survey software can trigger or send a survey to customers after any interaction to help you gather written feedback on that interaction or touchpoint as a whole.

Words directly from your customers can provide huge insight! Multiple customer experience survey methodologies exist to help you obtain specific kinds of feedback.

Here are the primary CX survey types to know and leverage:

  • Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a CX survey methodology for measuring customer loyalty. It asks the question, “How likely are you to recommend this product or service to a friend or colleague?” and provides a 0-10 rating scale to answer with 0 being “not likely at all” and 10 being “very likely.”
  • Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) is a CX survey methodology for measuring contentment of a specific interaction. It asks the question, “How satisfied were you with this product or interaction?” and provides a 1-5 rating scale to answer with 1 being “very dissatisfied” and 5 being “very satisfied.”
  • Customer Effort Score (CES) is a CX survey methodology for measuring how easy it is for a customer to complete a specific action with your business. It makes the statement, “Company X made it easy for you to complete Action Y.” Customers rate on a scale from 1-5 how strongly they agree, with 1 being “strongly disagree” and 5 being “strongly agree.”

Other customer experience survey types exist, such as smileythumbs up/down, and 5-star.

After giving a rating answer, each CX survey above asks a follow up question on why they gave the rating they did. This is where the written feedback comes from. You get back quantifiable data in the rating and qualitative data in the feedback that answers the elusive why.

Track customer experience (CX) scores

The rating answers from NPS, CSAT, and CES surveys aren’t just there to provide insight on how the individual survey taker thinks. These ratings are calculated into a score for that methodology for survey responders as a whole.

These CX scores give you a baseline understanding of how you currently stand with customers on those specific survey questions.

Here is how each CX score is calculated and what each score means:

  • NPS is calculated by first sorting the ratings into 3 ranges: “Detractors” for ratings 0-6, “passives” for 7-8, and “promoters” for 9-10. Then, you subtract the percentage of detractors away from the percentage of promoters to get the score.
  • CSAT score is calculated by taking the total number of “satisfied responses” that give a rating of 4 or 5, dividing that number by the total number of responses, and then multiplying that number by 100. Round the final results to the nearest whole number to get the score.
  • CES score is calculated by first sorting the ratings into 3 ranges: “disagree” for ratings 1 and 2, “neutral” for 3, and “agree” for 4 and 5. Take the number of responses in the “agree” range and then divide by the total number of survey respondents to get the score.

CX scoring provides metrics on very specific touchpoints in the customer journey as well as on the customer experience overall. Use these metrics as benchmarks you can track over time to gauge improvement.

Collect CX data with intention

It is a whole lot easier to uncover actionable insights from your CX data if you start with a goal in mind.

Reference high-level touchpoint performance data, operational metrics, and your internal discussions about customer experiences to identify what you want to learn from customers. Then, ask the right questions.

  • Want to learn why customer retention is down? Trigger a Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey to new users after they have used your product to get written feedback on why they would or wouldn’t recommend your product to others.
  • Want to learn how you could improve the conversion rate of purchases? Show a Customer Effort Score (CES) survey after checkout to learn how easy/hard it was to complete the purchase.
  • Want to learn how customers feel about their interactions with customer support? Email a Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) survey to customers that just completed a customer support interaction.

Once you understand what it is you want to learn, then choose the appropriate CX survey type, refine the question if needed, and trigger the survey to the right people, at the right time, in the right channel (email, SMS, web, kiosk, or via a link anywhere) to obtain the right data to answer your questions.

Here are more resources on asking the right survey questions:

Gather CX intelligence to gain insight on customer experiences

Now that your teams are enabled with process, goals, and purposeful CX data, it’s time to use this data to uncover actionable insights.

“Companies need to understand three things: WHAT happens, WHY it happens, and HOW to either make it stop happening or make it happen more frequently.”

– Eric Stine, Chief Innovation Officer, SAP North America

Use the right customer experience management tool

First off, the ease and quality of your customer experience analysis really comes down to choosing the right customer experience management platform. Besides being able to create and deliver CX surveys, your CXM solution should provide the following analysis capabilities:

  • Easy integration of customer data to add context to survey results and enable segmentation.
  • A real-time feedback dashboard that can be organized with customer segmentation, tagging, sorting, and filtering.
  • Automatic CX score calculation and reporting that makes it easy to see scores (and feedback) by customer segment and/or tag.

Analyze customer feedback and CX scores

Your first level of analysis should simply be reading the survey feedback as it comes in. There may be obvious insights that you can act on quickly without further analysis.

Next, categorize your feedback. As you review, use filtering, tags, and imported customer data to add layers of segmentation to the feedback that will enable meaningful analysis.

Dive deeper by comparing the feedback and CX scores across the segments you’ve created. This process is called cross-tab analysis. You might be familiar with this method in a pivot table in Excel, but your CXM platform should have this capability built in.

Even with more advanced feedback analysis, sometimes what might appear as a problem on the surface may just be a symptom of a larger issue. In these cases, root cause analysis is required to uncover what the real problem is, why it happened, and what can be done to prevent it moving forward.

Taking CX action to improve customer experiences

With customer experience insights in tow, you are now ready to take action to improve customer experiences, outcomes, and sentiment.

To do so, the insights need to be in the right hands. Be sure your customer experience management platform is able to route this data to the right person to take swift, appropriate action.

Here are key areas you should focus on to continually improve customer experiences and gain as much benefit as possible from Customer Experience Management:

Close the loop quickly and win over customers

Today’s customers expect a fast response from your brand after providing feedback or interacting with support, and the sooner you are able to respond, the better.

When uncovering a critical issue through customer feedback, not only should your team aim to resolve the problem immediately, but also acknowledge the customers who provided you with this insight by closing the loop.

Closing the loop is when someone at your company reaches out to those that provided feedback to let them know that their voice was heard and that your team is working to resolve the issue. Moreover, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open by letting these individuals know that the issue they flagged has been solved.

Closing the loop is a proactive activity and something that should be done with not only those who rate an experience poorly or flag issues to support, but also with those whose sentiment towards your business is positive. For instance:

Reach out to promoters from your NPS surveys and highly satisfied customers from your CSAT surveys to learn how else you can serve them and encourage brand advocacy.

Finally, follow up with detractors and passives (NPS) and dissatisfied customers (CSAT) to learn more on what can be done to turn the relationship around.

Leverage insights and feedback to improve marketing efforts

Listening to your customers through customer experience surveying and follow-up engagement will not only uncover ways to improve experiences, it will also uncover what people love about your business and opportunities to fuel growth.

If you want to drive more happy customers, talk about what current happy customers love about your business on your marketing website and collateral. More of the right kind of prospects will resonate with your messaging and be convinced to convert.

More positive customer experiences will also lead to more positive customer testimonials and reviews you can use to boost conversion rates on your website and drive more prospects from review sites. While not every happy customer will provide reviews or testimonials on their own, customer feedback powered reputation marketing can help you be proactive in getting more customers to do so.

Make informed decisions for organizational transformation

As you build out your Customer Experience Management (CXM) program, your organization will collect more and more definitive insights. You will uncover high-impact opportunities for customer experience improvement and business growth that you may not be able to implement right away.

If the same issues continue to arise, don’t just play a game of whack-a-mole with stop-gap fixes. Gather enough insight to make informed decisions on how to address customer concerns with new product developments or policy changes.

With your CX data and insights accessible across your organization, encourage everyone to share their ideas on how real, transformative improvements can be made.

Launching your customer experience management (CXM) program

Customer Experience Management is a continuous business activity, but following the framework in this guide will direct your efforts regardless of the changing needs of your customers.

And, chances are, if you invest in Customer Experience Management, it is going to be worth it. 84% of organizations that focus on improving CX report an increase in revenue.

While this guide provides the what, where, why, and how of a robust Customer Experience Management program, we encourage you to get started right away by focusing on a specific CX improvement goal. Read our kickstart CX program guide to see how you can get the ball rolling today.

The Delighted Customer Experience Management platform is built for organizations ready to dive into CXM with ease and affordability. Everything detailed in this guide, from CX surveying to analysis and action can be done in one tool with no technical expertise required. Create a free account and get started today!