Consumers experience your brand in many different ways. And with each new interaction, their perception of your brand can change, potentially leading to a new customer or a lost one.
The stakes are high. Bad experiences currently cost global businesses around $4.7 trillion in consumer spending annually, as customers stop spending money with brands that don’t give them the experience they’re looking for. With 9.5% of your bottom line at risk because of negative experiences, you can’t afford to let bad interactions slide.
So, how do you go about ensuring more positive customer experiences and fewer negative ones?
Customer Experience Management will help you to determine what customers are experiencing, what their expectations are of those experiences, and if your business is delivering on those expectations.
This guide will teach you how to understand and implement effective Customer Experience Management, so you can launch your own customer experience program to connect with the consumers of 2022 and beyond.
Continue reading or jump ahead:
- What is Customer Experience Management (CXM)?
- Why is Customer Experience Management important?
- An actionable Customer Experience Management framework
- Measuring your customer experience with CX data
- Gathering CX intelligence to gain insights on customer experiences
- Taking CX action to improve customer experiences
What is Customer Experience Management (CXM)?
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.
To be able to improve customer experiences, you need to be able to track, measure, and understand all the interactions your customers have with your business. That’s where Customer Experience Management comes in.
Customer Experience Management (CXM) enables you to make sense of not only what your customers want, but what actions you need to take to deliver experiences that meet or exceed customer expectations. A CXM strategy will take a brand from simply reacting to customer requests to anticipating and adapting to customer needs in advance with insights gathered directly from the customers themselves.
In other words, CXM focuses on learning how customer interactions can be improved and then taking action. It’s a system for continual improvement, carried out across your company.
Why is Customer Experience Management important?
Investing in Customer Experience Management can give your company insight into how customers experience your brand, what’s lacking, and how to do better.
The benefits include:
- A customer-focused company culture with aligned mission and values
- Better-informed product development and service provision based on real customer expectations, thoughts, actions, and behaviors
- Lower churn rates and more opportunities to upsell current customers
- Better reviews and testimonials due to continued, positive customer interactions
- A good ROI (return on investment), or ROX, return on experience
What are the challenges of Customer Experience Management?
Customer Experience Management is a vital but often complex process. The challenges that can arise during this procedure can be:
- Keeping track of customer experiences, expectations, and sentiment
- Getting customer opinions when they don’t proactively offer them
- Releasing useful customer information from your company’s siloed departments
- Creating useful insights instead of collating extensive data
- Empowering your teams to take action
Effective Customer Experience Management planning and execution can solve these challenges. That’s why we’ve provided step-by-step guidelines to help you get started with CXM strategy planning.
An actionable Customer Experience Management framework
The below framework offers a high-level Customer Experience Management strategy to help you launch a thriving CXM program.
Step 1: Improve organizational understanding of the customer experience
Aligning your organization around the customer and enabling employees with a clear strategy is critical to Customer Experience Management success.
Increasing awareness across your organization of how the company is performing with customers and what actions contribute to the current state of the customer experience is a good place to start.
Your company could already be tracking core operational metrics, but here are a few important ones to track and share:
- 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 lifecycle of your relationship with them
Monitoring your key operational metrics is one goal, but tracking operational metrics alone is not enough for Customer Experience Management. You’ll also need to take action — but more on that later.
Step 2: Map out your customer journey
Think of a customer journey map as a visual guide of the touchpoints to track, measure, analyze, and improve. Plotting the touchpoints people experience with your unique business before, during, and after purchase helps you to see where gaps lie and which interactions lead to success.
Remember – customer experience happens everywhere people see or engage with your brand, both online and offline. And, every touchpoint with your brand is a moment of judgment that can be mapped out and used for strategic CXM planning.
To get started, 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.
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, survey software, customer support software, CRM software, and product analytics platforms should all provide reporting on interactions and performance of their respective touchpoints.
It’s best to collate this data in a central experience platform to help your entire organization see how their work impacts the customer experience. Again — more on that later.
Step 3: Establish customer-centric values and processes
With an organizational understanding of Customer Experience Management initiatives and a centralized understanding of customer data, you’ll be able to encourage more customer-focused collaboration, as well as a sense of accountability.
Internal feedback (received verbally, in focus groups, or even through employee surveys) 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 implement processes that boost internal collaboration to improve customer experiences together, as a team.
Step 4: 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, customer experiences, and customer service.
Then, set specific goals (or KPIs, key performance indicators) that they can work towards.
These goals are not just to track metrics – they’re to help you work towards the improvement of your internal processes and increase customer satisfaction long-term.
Measuring your customer experience with CX data
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 provide ideas for improvement. To get specific insight from your audience, you need to ask them directly through customer feedback.
Step 1: Obtain direct customer feedback and create profiles
The best way to learn why individual people do the things they do and gauge their sentiment along the way is to ask them strategic questions that align with your overarching goals.
This is where a Voice of the Customer (VoC) program comes in. This is a closed-loop process of collecting written or spoken feedback on customer experiences and expectations.
Customer experience surveying is the most proactive way to drive a VoC program forward. The right customer experience survey software can trigger or send a survey to customers after any interaction to help you gather written feedback on specific interactions and touchpoints.
Multiple customer experience survey methodologies exist to help you obtain specific kinds of feedback. Here are CX survey types to know and leverage:
- Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a CX survey methodology for measuring customer loyalty.
- Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) is a CX survey methodology for measuring contentment of a specific interaction.
- 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.
- Thumbs is a two-option CX survey for straightforward Yes/No feedback.
- 5-star and Smileys are CX surveys designed for quick sentiment reading through visually intuitive rating scales.
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?” question.
Here are some examples of how you can use these methodologies to understand customers better:
- 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.
This data can help you to develop specific customer profiles (buyer personas) that will make personalization and specific audience targeting easier.
Step 2: Track customer experience scores
The rating answers from customer surveys aren’t just there to provide insight into how the individual survey taker thinks. These ratings are calculated into CX scores that give you a baseline understanding of how you currently stand with your customer base as a whole.
You can also dive deeper into specific touchpoints across the customer journey and use these metrics as benchmarks to gauge improvement over time.
Gathering CX intelligence to gain insights on customer experiences
Now that your teams are enabled with process, goals, useful operational data and purposeful CX data, it’s time to use this information to uncover actionable insights.
Step 1: Get 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 Customer Experience Management 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
Step 2: Analyze customer feedback and CX scores
Analyzing your customer feedback and scores can be undertaken as follows:
- Read the survey feedback as it comes in – there may be obvious insights that you can act on quickly without further analysis.
- 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 your segments – this process is called cross-tab analysis, and your Customer Experience Management 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, a 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 under your belt, you are now ready to take action to improve customer experiences, outcomes, and sentiment.
Step 1: Close the loop quickly and win over customers
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. This 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.
Closing the loop is a proactive activity and something that should be done not only with those who rate an experience poorly or flag issues to your customer support team, but also with those whose sentiment towards your business is positive.
Having a customer service strategy in place can help with that. Established CX strategies can ensure your support team members are onboarded with the latest close-the-loop processes and know the tools and communication standards for acting on feedback responses quickly and effectively.
Step 2: Leverage insights and feedback to improve marketing results
Listening to your customers through customer experience surveying and follow-up engagement will not only uncover ways to improve experiences, but it will also uncover what people love about your business and opportunities to fuel growth.
More positive customer experiences will 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.
Step 3: 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 to increase customer satisfaction with their experiences and to grow your business. However, you may not be able to implement them right away.
If the same issues continue to arise, don’t just implement 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.
How to get Customer Experience Management right
Customer Experience Management is a continuous and long-term business activity, but one worth investing in. With 84% of organizations that focus on improving CX reporting an increase in revenue, implementing a Customer Experience Management program offers a great return on investment.
However, there are a few key ways Customer Experience Management has to be done to see these stellar results. Here are our suggestions:
- Implement your Customer Experience Strategy from the top down – without leadership buying in, your teams will likely still work in a siloed fashion
- Try to bring all your data and analysis under one roof – using disparate programs can make it much harder to see key insights
- Don’t just track, take action – it’s easy to monitor scores and call it a day, but the real ROI is in the organizational changes you make as a result of the insights you gather
- Manage customer expectations – if you can’t provide the experience they want or have failed to in the past, show them you’re working on it
- Understand that this might be a long-haul digital transformation, but one worth making
Launching your Customer Experience Management program
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 with our experience management software – no technical expertise required.