Customer experience (CX), in broad terms, refers to every interaction (or “touchpoint”) a consumer has with a company and its products or services. Touchpoints might include visiting a website, making a purchase, or requesting customer support.
As customer expectations continue to rise, businesses that want to stay at the top of their game need a dedicated customer experience management strategy. According to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2023, consumers today have a low tolerance for subpar CX. And they’ll actively seek alternatives if businesses don’t meet their expectations: More than half of customers will leave for a competitor after just one bad experience.
Build a more successful business by forming a plan to provide a seamless, intuitive customer experience that minimizes frustration and delights customers. Here’s a look at what we’ll go over:
- What is customer experience management?
- Customer experience management vs. customer relationship management
- What is the importance of customer experience management?
- Common CXM challenges
- 5 tips for creating a customer experience management strategy
- Customer experience management examples
- Tools for managing the customer experience
What is customer experience management?
Customer experience management (CXM) is a system of processes companies use to track, organize, analyze, and optimize customer interactions. CXM encompasses the entire customer lifecycle, from the sales strategies that pique a buyer’s interest to the support offered to retain existing customers.
Customer experience management (CXM) vs. customer relationship management (CRM)
CXM is sometimes confused with customer relationship management (CRM), but these acronyms aren’t the same. CXM is an overarching concept that covers every aspect of the customer journey and prioritizes customer experiences. Dave Dyson, Customer Service Evangelist, says, “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.”
CRM focuses on optimizing internal processes and facilitating customer relationships through support interactions. CRM helps sales and support teams get to know their customers so they have productive interactions.
Importance of customer experience management
The primary goal of CXM is to create positive customer journeys by providing great experiences at each touchpoint. But businesses want to invest so heavily in CX because it ultimately leads to a better bottom line.
According to Adobe’s Digital Trends Report, companies that invest in CXM are three times as likely to significantly exceed their business goals. They also see 1.7 to 2.1 times greater year-over-year growth in revenue, customer retention, and customer lifetime value compared to companies that don’t focus on CXM.
This shouldn’t be surprising—research shows that consumers value a positive customer experience:
- A Qualtrics study found that customers who rate a company’s CX as “good” are 34 percent more likely to make repeat purchases and 37 percent more likely to recommend the company to others.
- Convince and Convert research shows that 71 percent of Americans who make word-of-mouth recommendations cite a great customer experience as the motivation behind their advocacy.
- In our Customer Experience Trends Report, over 90 percent of respondents said they’re likely to spend more money with companies that offer streamlined experiences.
Simply put, CXM enables businesses to deliver the standout CX consumers look for, increasing customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. Good customer experience management also opens lines of communication between companies and consumers.
By interacting with your buyers and collecting their feedback, you can understand their needs and improve your products or services. Even if customers churn, good CXM helps you determine the reasons why.
Common CXM challenges
Managing the customer experience involves departments throughout an organization, leading to understandable challenges. These are common challenges identified in the Zendesk CX Trends Report.
Customers aren’t assisted where they need help
When a customer runs into a problem on a website, they expect assistance on that page. They don’t want to follow a trail of links to customer support or have to send an email and hope for a response. Customer support should be accessible everywhere the customer is to keep people from abandoning carts and your service altogether.
Customer service requests have increased
Seventy-three percent of business leaders have identified measurable increases in customer service requests over the last year. Businesses should invest in support departments to keep agents from being overwhelmed. Customer experience is a potential revenue driver, not a drain on resources.
The promise of chatbots have yet to be fully realized
Chatbots are commonplace due to their capacity to handle simple requests, but they can’t fully replace knowledgeable agents. Seventy-eight percent of customer conversations with chatbots still get transferred to a human agent. For chatbots to aid CXM, they need to improve efficiency with customer interactions, not add more steps before a resolution.
Customer sentiment is underutilized
Only 34 percent of business leaders say customer sentiment influences personalized experiences. Data plays an important role in CXM, but it shouldn’t displace the customer’s voice. Businesses need to let the customer perspective drive CXM if they want to make meaningful changes.
Customer data isn’t shared among teams
Only 22 percent of business leaders think their teams do a good job sharing data. These information silos stand in the way of departments having a detailed view of the customer, hindering performance. Data should be accessible to all departments so everyone can contribute to an immersive experience.
5 tips for creating a customer experience management strategy
A customer experience management strategy describes the steps you take to provide positive experiences across every customer touchpoint and how you measure the results of those efforts.
The specific details will depend on the channels and tools your company uses to interact with customers. Though no two CXM strategies are the same, businesses can follow a few basic tenants and best practices to form their plans.
1. Define your primary CXM goals
While the high-level objective is to consistently provide positive customer experiences, you’ll need more granular goals to thoroughly evaluate your CX.
Identifying common problems for your customers is often the best place to start. Talk to your customer-facing teams and gather customer feedback via surveys to see what needs improvement.
“Getting people within the company focused on improving the customer experience can be a hard sell,” warns Dyson. “Especially if you have a siloed organization, or you don’t have a Chief Customer Officer.”
Actively learning about customer pain points helps set boundaries and provides a clear direction for the strategy, both in terms of the actions you’ll take and the results you’ll measure.
2. Determine ROI metrics for CX investments
Whether you’re hiring new personnel or buying new tools, the value generated from them should be greater than their costs. Use your CXM goals to find KPIs to help you determine sufficient return on investment (ROI) standards.
Here are some possible KPIs to track with your CX investments:
- Use self-service software to increase customer satisfaction
- Implement chatbots to decrease customer service wait times
- Create a customer training program to increase the lifetime value
Measuring specific ROI metrics is difficult since many factors can affect the results. However, it’ll still give you a better understanding of their impact on your CX strategy and help you make informed decisions.
3. Identify internal stakeholders
Once you determine your primary goals, decide who will implement and execute the strategy.
As you choose stakeholders, remember that customer experience management is incredibly cross-functional. The touchpoint you’re looking to improve can just as easily be linked to your marketing and product development teams as it can to your customer support agents.
“Executive sponsorship cannot be overstated when it comes to adoption and implementation,” says Samantha Chandler, a customer support team manager. “In fact, only about a quarter of projects that don’t have effective executive sponsorship actually make it off of the ground.”
Managers must curate the most relevant data points to receive executive buy-in. After all, executives often don’t have time to look at a sea of numbers.
Find the right stakeholders, and ask for their feedback on the customer challenges you want to eliminate.
4. Create customer personas and journey maps
Customer personas and journey maps help companies understand their customers’ needs and behaviors by filling gaps in information hard data can’t address. Knowing who they are will also help your employees build customer empathy.
When support teams have access to detailed customer personas and profiles, they can deliver targeted service that resonates with the people they’re interacting with. Consider their motivations for using your service, their values, and how they communicate to provide tailored experiences.
Customer journey maps provide a full picture of the stages customers go through with your company, and use these touchpoints to identify where you can make the greatest impact. There could be ways to optimize the customer experience by removing pain points, or you could find new opportunities to cross-sell.
5. Use hard data to build a customer experience management framework
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 Dyson. “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 automation for capturing relevant data sets. Customer experience management software provides instant access to all the KPIs your company needs to measure. This software can help you:
- Filter customer conversations by reason for contact, whether that’s product support, pricing concerns, or any other issue.
- Integrate engagement data from every communication channel to know how customers respond to your brand experience.
- 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.
Customer experience management examples
The benefits of creating a customer experience framework aren’t hypothetical. Many companies recognize the importance of CXM, and they’re currently reaping the benefits. Check out these real-world customer experience management examples.
LendingClub: Simplifying customer support
LendingClub helps borrowers connect with investors in an ethical online marketplace. Trust is key in the financial sector, and they strive to achieve that by providing engaging customer experiences.
Before switching to Zendesk, LendingClub agents struggled to focus on customer interactions, having to manually document each one. This also made it difficult to respond to customers quickly and be mentally present on the task at hand.
LendingClub fixed the problem by streamlining processes and reducing the burden on their agents, increasing email efficiency by over 275 percent. Chatbots answer simple customer questions, they have follow-up email automation, and agent workflows get efficiently managed.
“Previously, an agent would do 80 emails in a day. Now email agents can do 220 emails a day because of the one-click macros and other ways we made their work tool more effective.”
Andrew Jensen, Director of Payment Solutions at LendingClub
MOO: Gaining a 360 degree view
MOO offers brandable printing solutions to customers around the world. Driving brand loyalty through exceptional customer service was necessary, but they struggled to deliver it using different systems for sales and service. If a customer called, they didn’t know their previous contact with the company.
Moo started using Zendesk to coordinate between departments to give them a complete picture of the customer. Today, when a customer calls the contact center, agents can immediately help by seeing the customer’s entire history. Their CSAT is now 95 percent, and 81 percent of tickets are touched only once.
“We have a huge crossover of customers who contact our teams. It’s helpful to have a 360-degree view, so we can point business customers back to their account manager or help consumers on the spot.”
Annelisa Brown, Manager of Customer Support and Insight at MOO
GlassesUSA.com: Improving communication
GlassesUSA.com provides eyewear to customers in more than 92 countries. The site receives 130,000 daily visitors, and they strive to treat each one like a respected patient. That requires delivering excellent customer support across all communication channels.
Customers can begin a conversation with a chatbot and then opt for a live agent. Since their information is linked, agents can hop in with all the knowledge they need to deliver a personalized experience. Using Zendesk, missed chats are nearly nonexistent, and their SLA rate hit 95 percent.
“Zendesk is directly contributing to enhancing our customer experience and satisfaction, which in turn improves retention, revenue, conversion, and word of mouth marketing.”
Doron Pryluk, SVP of Customer Experience at GlassesUSA.com
Tools for managing the customer experience
Have a tool by your side to reliably manage your customer experience. Use a customer experience management solution that empowers your staff to evolve with modern CX demands, encourages internal collaboration, and provides actionable analytics for fine-tuning the customer experience.
1. Omnichannel customer service software
The terms “multichannel” and “omnichannel” are often used interchangeably, but they shouldn’t be.
A multichannel customer experience is one in which a business offers multiple support channels to customers—such as social media, email, and the phone—but the channels don’t connect to one another. When conversations can’t continue from one channel to the next, getting a comprehensive view of customer interactions can be nearly impossible and severely impede CX management.
An omnichannel platform creates a consistent communication journey by unifying all possible touchpoints to give support agents crucial context about each customer. This enables agents to interact with customers on the channel of their choice and to move conversations seamlessly between them.
Omnichannel solutions can shape your company’s customer-centric CXM strategy. This can mean the difference between a positive customer experience and a negative one.
2. Knowledge management solutions
Putting answers at the customer’s fingertips, rather than waiting for a customer service rep, is the preferred route to give them the quick answers they need.
Work a knowledge base into your customer experience management model, and you’ll empower customers to take control while freeing reps to handle more pressing matters. Here are some of the solutions a knowledge base can provide:
- Tutorials and how-to articles: Walkthroughs of your more complicated processes
- FAQ pages: Answers to the most common questions you receive
- Community forum: A space for customers to connect and discuss their experiences
- Case studies: In-depth research sharing insights into your target market or the success of your customers
3. Reporting and analytics tools
If there’s one must-have for CXM, it’s data. Without customer experience management metrics measuring CX, your company won’t know how to improve its product or service and how to react to a changing business landscape.
You need customer analytics tools that can integrate real-time data from every channel and provide reports that allow you to measure customer engagement across every touchpoint. Your CX will suffer if you don’t have insights into what happened, what might happen, and what actions your organization should consider taking.
In short, customer data is the backbone of your company’s efforts to provide proactive customer experiences.
4. Robust customer profiles
Meeting customer needs requires fully understanding who your customers are and what they want. Taking a personal approach with your CXM strategy will help you achieve the right level of customer obsession. One way to accomplish this is to build customer profiles.
Your profiles need to go beyond contact information and transaction history. Gather information across multiple tools and compile it into a unified space that sales and support teams can reference.
CXM tools can gather information like geolocation, demographics, and buying patterns in real time. Your team will have up-to-date information to deliver personalized interactions every time.
5. Customer feedback surveys
Hard data will help guide your decisions—but it can only do so much. If you have any blind spots in the customer journey, the best way to reveal them is by going straight to the people it affects the most.
Customer feedback lets you know what you’re doing right and which CX areas to improve. You can administer surveys at different times during the customer lifecycle:
- After an interaction: Send a survey after a customer makes a purchase to learn how they felt about the sales process or their satisfaction with the product. Or you can ask for feedback immediately after speaking with customer service to learn if the interaction was successful.
- Periodically: Send surveys quarterly or annually to learn general insights about their experiences. There’s no triggering event, so customers have the chance to identify pain points related to the daily and long-term use of your service.
Analyze customer feedback collectively to see if trends appear across your organization. You’ll also want to keep records for individual customers. This will show you if customer sentiment has changed over time.
Customer experience management is no longer optional
Consumers increasingly expect effortless experiences, and companies are beginning to understand that prioritizing CX is a must.
When coupled with the right CX tools and processes, a strong CXM strategy enables your company to meet and surpass customer expectations—laying the groundwork for long-term success.