The term “the customer is always right” was originally coined by retail pioneer Harry Gordon Selfridge in 1909. And while it’s been a go-to policy for businesses in all industries for decades, its importance and relevance to modern business operations have become amplified.
In our digital world, customers’ expectations have never been higher. The array of choices they have – literally at their fingertips – as to who they choose to do business with has never been greater. And just a few missteps or indifference (real or perceived) is all it takes for a customer or prospect to take their business elsewhere.
Today, customer satisfaction can be fragile and fleeting.
The good news is that customer experience management approaches have advanced in leaps and bounds in recent years and so too have the tools and technology that support them.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at customer experience management, understand its importance in today’s hyper-competitive business context, and explore some of the software options at your disposal to ensure your company always succeeds in putting your customers at the center of everything you do.
What Is Customer Experience Management?
Customer experience management – often also called CEM or CXM – is a collection of sales and marketing strategies, systems, and technologies focused on optimizing the way an organization engages with its customers from a satisfaction and user experience point of view.
In 2003, renowned consultant and value marketing thinker Bernd Schmitt defined customer experience management as:
“The discipline, methodology and/or process used to comprehensively manage a customer’s cross-channel exposure, interaction, and transaction with a company, product, brand or service.”
In recent years, customer relationship management thinking has centered on personalizing and orchestrating the entire customer’s experience (both personal and digital) – at every stage in their journey, in real-time, through multiple channels, and at scale.
Why Is It Important?
Customer experience management isn’t a corporate buzzword or something that organizations can get away with paying lip service to. In essence, and as the name suggests, it involves making customers’ experiences positive, personal, and authentic at every touchpoint. The result of this is happy customers who will give you repeat business. But there are other upsides: your employees – especially those working in sales, marketing, and customer service roles – will benefit from a more pleasant and rewarding work experience.
Businesses that get it right and reap its rewards are the ones that:
- Have a deep and broad understanding of each type of customer and their unique likes and dislikes
- Succeed in building their customer loyalty, forging meaningful and lasting relationships over time, and thereby maximizing their “share of wallet” with their customers
- Benefit from significant “word of mouth” referrals – after all, happy customers will voluntarily recommend a company's brand to their friends, family, and colleagues
- Consistently outperform their competitors in their marketplaces
- Remain relevant as changing market dynamics and socio-economic forces affect people’s behaviors and buying patterns
- Make intelligent use of customer data to drive more precise decision-making around new products and services to drive customer satisfaction
- Attract and retain the best skills, given their strong reputation in their marketplace and ability to build powerful brand equity
What Is a Customer Experience Management Strategy?
Great customer experience doesn’t just happen. It takes focus, time, hard work, and careful consideration of the most appropriate digital tools and software.
A customer experience strategy is essentially the output of the plans and tools you implement to drive exceptional experiences for your customers at every stage and touchpoint of their engagement with your organization. Importantly, a customer experience strategy isn’t a one-off event or effort. It’s something you have to constantly measure, review, and adapt.
How to Improve Customer Experience
Naturally, any organization’s customer experience strategy aims to improve the overall customer experience. So, what are the things to focus on in crafting this strategy to ensure it delivers the results you seek?
The first goal of your strategy should be to gain a real-time view and understanding of who your customers are and what they want and need. Think of it as “customer profiling.”
Part of this exercise will involve segmenting your customers (for example, in terms of demographics, age, spending habits, interests, and location.) Next, you’ll need to develop specific personas and then design tactics and outreach that are tailored to the requirements of each and will therefore have the best chance of resonating with them.
Once you’ve completed this step, you can start plotting a desired customer journey “map” which specifies how you’d like your customers (existing and prospective) to act, respond, and behave when interacting with your brand and your products and services.
As part of these efforts, it’s important not to forget the softer issues, such as emotional connections, loyalties, and even nostalgia – all of which can influence people’s buying behaviors. Brands that succeed in eliciting an emotive response from buyers have a greater chance of market success.
As you develop and refine your strategy, it’s vital to capture customer feedback regularly and in real-time. Today, digital software tools that gather different types of data about customers’ behaviors and actions are invaluable in providing businesses with very granular customer feedback regarding their mood and sentiment.
What is Customer Experience Management Software?
Many of today’s tech giants such as Salesforce, Microsoft, SAP, and Oracle have cloud-based software and tools.
Their solutions focus on the following key areas of the customer experience mix:
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
CRM tools and functionality are essential for enabling sales and marketing teams to access and manage all manner of customer information and customer data across multiple channels (email, social media, websites, in-person and virtual meetings and events, and more.) CRM platforms give cross-functional teams a single, real-time view of all customer outreach and the ability to track and report on it.
Marketing automation software gives marketing teams a way to expedite, streamline, and measure the success of their campaigns and reduce the amount of manual effort and input.
eCommerce capabilities embedded in customer experience software allow online retailers to set up and manage their online stores. They also support the development of custom catalogs as well as online checkout and payment processing.
Call centers aren’t what they used to be. Today, customer service technology eliminates much of the time and effort involved in interacting with customers and dealing with their inquiries and requests for support. Most modern tools support omnichannel customer interactions, including self-service and real-time online chat through the medium of bots.
How WayPath Can Help
At WayPath, we believe that software should not just support business. It should be at the heart of business. This conviction powers every aspect of our work and enables us to deliver world-class software and technology consultancy services to every client in our fast-growing portfolio. As customer experience specialists, we deliver mission-critical solutions that enable our clients to enrich customer engagements and drive lifetime value through customer relationships.
WayPath is proud to be that partner for ambitious, progressive, and visionary organizations across a range of industries.
Our team of software consultants, architects, developers, and project managers have extensive experience working on customer communication, customer relationship, and content management platforms. On every project, they work closely with the client to get to know their business needs and goals.
They also ask the questions needed to understand, communicate and realize the value proposition of each proposed solution. And of course, they put their technology-loving hearts and souls into designing bespoke packages that get our clients exactly where they need to be – ahead of the pack.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help, get in touch and speak to one of our experts.