You're a customer, so you're a perfect judge of logic when it comes to the ways companies are trying to get ahead with customers. First of all, let's face it: when you buy something you want it to be easy to get, function flawlessly, and allow you to move forward in your life or business. That encapsulates what customer experience management is all about: companies that can make it easier and nicer to get what you need in life/business are the companies you'll say good things about and come back to. If you agree that this is your outlook on being a customer, then we've got a good foundation for properly defining the role of technology in customer experience management (CEM).
Customer Relationship Management
As a customer you hope you don't have to repeat your story every time you interact with a company. Just like in personal relationships, you expect to be valuable enough to the other party that they remember what you did together before, so that they might anticipate what would be appropriate going forward.
- CRM as a technology is a tool to nurture relationships that anticipate what a customer would appreciate, in the right way, at the right time. (Not a self-serving tool to push unwanted stuff with contrived urgency, essentially eroding rather than nurturing the customer relationship.)
- Use Marketing Automation and Sales Intelligence tools to prompt proactive outreach to customers in ways they'll view as valuable to them at the right time in the right way.
- Use a Customer Data Warehouse to integrate all the sources of information about a customer and to create a real-time single view of the customer that's accessible to back-office as well as front-line professionals who play a role in managing the customer relationship.
- Use all these tools to involve other functional areas across the company in gaining an accurate picture of customers' needs, so that they can make sure their processes, policies, and handoffs help strengthen customer relationships.
As a customer you often like to keep things simple by making purchases with a familiar company, once you decide you like what they've got and how they do things. You like to feel like you're appreciated by the company, and you enjoy getting a good deal as often as you can. You also like variety if another company's product or service seems appropriate at any given moment for your life/business. While you see the value of consistency, you resent situations where you're not free to decide for yourself which brand you can use.
- Anything that that forces customers to stick with you or lose it all — non-industry-standard technologies, expensive add-ons or consumables, exclusivity service plans/policies — may look like a good thing for your growing revenue, but this approach ultimately erodes your brand value (even if the whole industry is doing it) rather than maximizing customer equity.
Customer/Enterprise Feedback Management
As a customer you like to speak your mind about what's really helping you, and you often hope others won't suffer like you did when something has gone wrong. You prefer to express these sentiments right away in the context of what you were trying to do in your life/business, since that reflects what's important to you. You expect your feedback to make a difference.
- Surveys that deviate from the customer's context or timing are a bit of a hassle and can be seen as irrelevant.
- In the interest of satisfying customers, don't dissatisfy them with a self-serving process that comes across as the customer doing you a favor.
- Use Data Mining to digest all the qualitative feedback customers give you and put it to good use.
- And make sure you fully honor your customers' investment of time by making a difference in the way you do business, in exact alignment with what customers said.
- Involve everyone across the company — as well as alliance partners and suppliers — in making a difference because of customer feedback.
Automated Customer Interactions
As a customer you want to move forward with your life/business as quickly as possible, so the ability to access information anywhere, anytime is a big plus. You want self-service opportunities to be really straightforward, and if you happen to be navigating an issue that's too unique for self-service, you hope you don't have to repeat everything once you talk to a live person.
- First contact resolution (FCR; "one-and-done") applies to any type of contact, in customers' minds.
- Extensive testing with different types of customers may help meet FCR goals.
- Bridging the customer's self-service and customer-service trails, as well as acknowledging the hard work a customer has done through self-service prior to calling the company, are often a big part of healing a strained customer experience.
As a customer you expect front-line professionals to know everything about everything, and fast. You roll your eyes when someone tells you things like: "A different department handles that." But even more importantly, you get fed-up when the same type of issue recurs with a company, and when things happen that seem like they never should have happened at all.
- Up-to-date, comprehensive information that's quickly accessible by front-line professionals, as well as self-service touch-points, is essential.
- But don't forget knowledge management across the entire company: make sure back-office functional areas throughout the company learn from customer service.
- Make sure "lessons-learned" are shared not only from customer service to the issue originators, but also cross-functionally well ahead of any field issues arising, in the spirit of prevention.
- Knowledge management in its broader context means your company is "a learning organization", repeating successes and preventing mistakes company-wide.
Customer Communities & Social Media
As customer you participate as part of a broader social role in your life, a need to express your opinions, see what others are saying, keep on top of issues/news/trends, be entertained, and/or solve something quickly. You don’t mind including those you buy from in this endeavor as long as it’s relevant — AND easy or fun, or helps you look good or get ahead — within the context of its broader social role in your life or to move ahead with your life/business.
- Beware of the tail wagging the dog.
- Blend in with your audience’s routines, timing, processes and social environment … both in technology as well as overall approach.
- Transparency is key, as nobody wants to feel manipulated.
- Social media is an excellent opportunity for your entire company to learn how trust is defined and assessed by your target audience, and to provide value and build trust for stronger customer relationships and brand advocacy.
Take the mystery out of the true meaning of customer experience management by thinking about your own experiences, expectations, and preferences as a customer. As a customer, you know that all of the above (and more) are components of your customer experience. So it's certainly a misnomer for a company to call any one of these "customer experience management". Let's get beyond a technology-centered definition of customer experience management to view things the way customers do, and to manage our businesses in ways that customers will be eager to say great things and increase their share of wallet/budget with our brand.