Customer Experience Management (CXM) has become a buzzworthy concept over the last 10 years as businesses recognize how they serve customers is as important as what they sell them.
Brilliant minds have been tapped, business have been transformed, and billions of dollars have been poured into creating complex software and data management systems that give companies a 360-degree assessment of their customers. The goal is to create personalized experiences that meet, exceed, and anticipate their every need. Many big brands have entire executives, teams, and digital processes devoted to CXM.
And for good reason: 2018 Forrester research reveals that mere one-point increases in CX scores can account for $10 million to $100 million in annual revenue.
2018 Forrester research reveals that mere one-point increases in CX scores can account for $10 million to $100 million in annual revenue.
To be sure, understanding and serving customers in a way that inspires brand loyalty is critical to compete in a crowded marketplace. But do you ever get the feeling that CXM has been overcomplicated? That there’s so much granular knowledge that the concept has lost its core objective?
Let’s look at some basic strategies and best practices for incorporating CXM into any business.
CXM: A primer
CMOs, consultants, and scholars parse CXM in a variety of ways, but the main goal is to ensure positive customer interactions and experiences with a product or service.
PwC Global Chief Experience Officer David Clarke told CMS Wire that CXM is “the management of customer interactions through each physical and digital touchpoint in order to deliver personalized experiences that drive brand loyalty and increase revenue.”
This can be accomplished by empowered and empathetic staff who deliver a tailored customer experience. Finely tuned software and data management programs that extract customer habits and insights can also get the job done. Artificial intelligence (AI) is a leading tool that helps predict what customers want and need so a customized journey can be laid out before them. Finally, human-centered marketing engines are needed to ensure the right message is offered to the right person at the right time (and in the right way).
[Related read: Empowering your team: kindness in customer service]
In the interest of taking CXM back to its fundamental goal, we can peel back the layers to find the gold at the center of this movement.
Leading CXM strategies
Here are some tried and true tactics that work as overarching principles as well as on a person-to-person level.
Lead with empathy
The growing awareness of emotional intelligence has bestowed businesses and human beings alike with the knowledge that empathy is a key to creating a meaningful connection with just about anyone. This includes the B2C relationship. Understanding the needs of customers before, during, and after their interactions with a brand will allow you to create processes that truly serve them the way they want to be served.
Understanding the needs of customers before, during, and after their interactions with a brand will allow you to create processes that truly serve them the way they want to be served.
It’s no longer okay to operate a business behind a dark curtain, Wizard of Oz-style. Today’s customers want to know they’re dealing with brands that are ethical, engaged in the world, and sell products worth investing in. They pore over reviews and make purchasing decisions based on the experiences of others. Ignoring or trying to cover up bad press (in traditional and social media) almost always guarantees a lack of trust. Owning mistakes and flaws is just one more way to strengthen a relationship with a customer.
[Related read: 5 ways to improve customer trust in your org]
Get C-suite buy-in
It’s not enough to invest in CXM in theory; it has to be woven into the fabric of the business, at all levels. Many organizations create a CX team that typically reports to the CMO to allow for close ties to customer personas, data, and habits. As a result, the office of the CMO is evolving to include responsibility for customer experience and to drive growth. However, in order to ensure this is communicated across the entire organization, all members of the C-Suite need to be aware of and invested in the CXM strategy to administer it in a cross-functional way.
Listen to customers
While there’s tremendous value in compiling customer data, nothing beats hearing directly from customers about their needs and experiences. Many customer service organizations make it a priority to meet with customers regularly to get insight that may not come through on customer surveys and focus groups. Jon Stein, founder of Betterment, an online financial advising service, started a program called "Coffee with Customers" under which team members meet with everyday customers across the country whenever they’re travelling. “There’s something interesting in just talking to great, satisfied customers who may have interesting things going on in their lives and are not there for customer service or to be a focus group. You get to understand their lives and who you’re helping,” he said.
It's not enough to invest in CXM in theory; it has to be woven into the fabric of the business, at all levels.
Study the customer journey
Understanding the current and previous experiences of customers is a great starting place to building the kind of experience you want them to have. Of course, this process would include studying their journey with your business, both historically and currently, but would also look to their experiences with your competitors—and with businesses that consistently knock customer service out of the park. What do people love? What do they hate? What inspiration can you take from both good and horrible experiences to create something fresh and wonderful in your business?
[Related read: Feeding the needs of today's experience-hungry customer]
Personalize as much as possible
Uncomfortable truth: people are freaked out by tailored ads, but they’re also enchanted by them. Everyone likes to feel special and seen by others, even businesses. If you can create a customer experience that feels delightfully personal for every user, you’ve won CXM. Technological tools like mobile marketing and location-based services can help you gather the insight you need to hand-feed your customers with information, products, and services that you know are relevant to them. There are plenty of ways to engage with them, but a top strategy seems to be offering knowledge that will save them time and money.
Understanding the current and previous experiences of customers is a great starting place to building the kind of experience you want them to have.
Invest in CXM software
A truly successful CXM program must invest in technology that will help them streamline data collection, report on, and measure customer journeys to ensure continual improvement. The Forrester study “The Future of CX” breaks down how forces like AI and neuroscience team up to create mind-blowing experiences and how CX teams can set themselves up for success as they await the future.
If history has taught us anything, it’s that human beings are always looking forward to the next big thing, and the best customer experiences are a result of having ticked all these boxes, not just one or two. So when it comes to CXM in 2020, will you be in the business of catching up, or on the cutting edge?
Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2020
Discover how top companies provide experiences that keep customers returning and the best practices that separate the leaders from everyone else.