Stories of great customer experiences often go viral because they’re exceptional outliers. An airline saves the day by flying out a bridesmaid dress, or a support rep saves a life by realizing the caller was having a stroke.
“We tend to think of customer experience as these big old moonshots, and going above and beyond, and just knocking socks off,” says Samantha Chandler, one of Zendesk’s customer success team managers. “But what customers really tend to want is consistency.”
Customers want your company’s different departments working together to deliver that consistency. Over 70% of customers expect companies to collaborate on their behalf, and 68% get annoyed when their call is transferred between departments, according to Zendesk’s 2020 Customer Experience Trends Report.
Providing a smooth, consistent customer experience across an entire organization requires careful planning, close monitoring, and continual adjustments. We talked to Zendesk’s experts for their thoughts on using customer experience management to deliver reliably great customer experience.
What is customer experience management (and why does it matter)?
Customer experience management, or CXM, is a company’s system for tracking, overseeing, and influencing all customer contact points.
The purpose of CXM is to provide a consistent level of customer service, improve brand loyalty, and deepen engagement.
All customer interactions fall under the purview of CXM—which can make it feel like a pretty big undertaking.
“Anything that the customer can interact with is part of the customer experience. You need to be managing that experience so that all of your teams are working together to provide a seamless, pleasant experience.”
Dave Dyson, Senior Customer Service Evangelist at Zendesk
If you’re able to reliably deliver that sort of seamless service, it will fortify and eventually expand your customer base.
“A lot of emphasis is put on bringing in new customers, but you’ve also got to retain existing customers—especially in SaaS, where a lot of businesses are focused on ‘land and expand.’”
Brian Reuter, Director of Customer Success at Zendesk
Brian also points out that great customer experiences also benefit word of mouth and can attract additional new sales.
CXM is especially helpful for identifying and anticipating common customer complaints. The better you get at proactively addressing those issues, the lower your support costs become.
So why isn’t everyone reaping the benefits of customer experience management? In part, it’s because companies of all shapes and sizes often struggle to get their arms around all of their contact points with customers. New startups are often disorganized, while large enterprises suffer from siloing different departments.
If your organization has faced CXM challenges, consider these expert tips for overcoming them.
Tip #1: Balance internal goals with customer-facing objectives
Customer experience management pushes companies to evaluate their brand experience from the customer’s point of view, not the company’s. Without that angle, departments often set internal goals that conflict with the customer’s interests.
“Your departments often have metrics that they’re trying to meet that are not customer-facing goals,” Dave explains. “Your support team might want to lower costs by 10%. And if you just focus on that, it can actually steer you into a worse customer experience at the same time that you’re meeting those goals.”
For example, trying to keep all customer conversations under five minutes will improve your call center’s efficiency—but it will also likely translate to a terrible customer experience.
Before adopting any departmental or company-wide objective, it’s important to ask, “How will this affect the customer?”
“Getting people within the company focused on improving the customer experience can be a hard sell,” warns Dave. “Especially if you have a siloed organization, or you don’t have a Chief Customer Officer.”
That’s why he feels it’s important to have leaders who are constantly beating the drum of “make it about the customer.”
Tip #2: Get executive buy-in for new initiatives
Whether you’re investing in CX software, other parts of your tech stack, or even just a new customer-oriented strategy, it’s crucial that you have leadership’s backing.
“Executive sponsorship cannot be overstated when it comes to adoption and implementation,” Sam says. “In fact, only about a quarter of projects that don’t have effective executive sponsorship actually make it off of the ground.”
To get executive buy-in, managers need to curate the most relevant data points. After all, executives often don’t have time to look at a sea of numbers.
According to Brian, it helps if you’re able to both show the ROI of your proposed customer experience initiative and tell a compelling customer story about why you’re doing it.
“Show the long-term impact,” Brian advises. “Not just that a customer was upset one time, but that the customer then tweeted about it and got other people upset, or later left us for the competition.”
Tip #3: Pull actionable CX insights from hard data
CXM strategies focus on both the experience of using your product or service and the experience of interacting with your business.
“If you’re tracking product complaints, that can help steer you towards product improvements,” says Dave. “If you’re tracking the customer journey from start to end, looking at all the touchpoints where customers interact with you and where those break down, that’s a good process, as well.”
Both processes require an automated system for capturing relevant data sets. Customer experience management software solutions like Zendesk Explore provide instant access to all of the customer analytics your company needs to be measuring:
- Filter customer conversation by reason for contact, whether that’s product support, pricing concerns, or any other issue
- Integrate engagement data from every communication channel so you know how customers prefer to interact with your brand
- Identify problem areas from support tickets
- Quickly fix routing issues to improve support operations
- See which support teams and agents have high or low CSAT (customer satisfaction) and one-touch ticket rates (here's how to measure CSAT in Zendesk)
Use the data you capture to inform your operational adjustments and priorities. Find your customers’ pain points and do what it takes to relieve them.
When Dave was working as a customer support manager, he learned that one of the product integrations was leading to a high number of support tickets. With Zendesk’s software, he was able to track and organize tickets to investigate the issue. Agents used the drop-down menu on each support ticket to indicate what the conversation was about, and a time-tracking app recorded the amount of time spent on each ticket.
“We were able to say to the product team, ‘Here’s how much it costs us per month to support this feature,’” explains Dave. “I think giving them that kind of hard data helped them justify spending money to make those product improvements.”
Tip #4: Keep up with emerging communication channels
According to Zendesk’s 2020 CX Trends Report, less than 30% of companies offer self-service, live chat, social messaging, in-app messaging, bots, or peer-to-peer communities. The study also found that among millennial and Gen Z customers, 30% typically resolve issues through chat, and 40% regularly use messaging.
That represents a big opportunity for many companies to outflank their competition by offering more digital communication channels. At the same time, Sam cautions against adding new channels just for the sake of adding new channels.
“If you just want to add chat, for example, because it’s got a high CSAT score and you want a high CSAT score, you should back up a little bit,” cautions Sam. “Do you have the resources to man a very active live channel like that? Do you have the first reply time benchmarks that will meet the expectations of somebody who is chatting in?”
If the CX data says your organization can’t fully support a new channel, you may need to either increase your staff or temporarily stick with less intensive channels.
And even if you do have the bandwidth for multiple channels, keep your focus on the customer’s expectations. Leverage customer data to see which platforms your audience actually likes and focus your energy on those.
Explore your customer’s perspective with CXM software
You know your company has a lot of moving parts, but consider what it looks like from the outside. Do customers feel like they’re getting passed around by different departments who aren’t sharing information? Or are their concerns being understood, addressed, and even anticipated?
You need to oversee all aspects of CX. Zendesk Explore gives you insight into every customer interaction. It has pre-calculated common customer service metrics for you, so you’re able to immediately measure and act on your customer data. You can get started right away with a free trial.