The customer experience (CX), in broad terms, means every interaction a customer has with a company and its products—otherwise known as touchpoints. That can range from visiting a web site and making a purchase, reaching out to the customer service team, and even things like brand recognition and knowledge about a company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs. In an increasingly competitive marketplace where consumer expectations continue to rise, businesses that want to stay on top of the game need a dedicated customer experience management strategy that ensures all of these elements drive customer satisfaction.
So how does customer experience management (CEM) move the needle on customer satisfaction? Simply put, CEM helps businesses create seamless customer journeys that build and retain customer loyalty.
However, managing the customer experience requires tools that give support teams the visibility they need to effectively deliver the kind of customer service that meets or even exceeds expectations (which contributes to customer retention). That means putting a customer experience management platform in place that will enable support teams to evolve with modern customer service demands, encourage internal team collaboration, and provide actionable analytics for fine-tuning the customer experience.
For many people, the terms multichannel and omnichannel can be a bit confusing and even seem to be interchangeable. That's not the case, however! If a business offers multiple channels to a customer—say, a website, social media, and traditional brick-and-mortar stores—but those elements don’t share data, then the business has a multi-channel customer experience. Yet because those elements operate in silos, it can be next to impossible to get a global view of customer interactions, and that makes the customer journey less than ideal—and it can severely impede customer experience management.
What's the solution? Adopting an omnichannel platform that unifies all possible touch points—a truly cross-channel, cross-functional customer experience platform that gives support teams crucial context about the customer journey. That achieves, among many things, two important goals: meeting customer expectations of being able to interact with a company on the channel of their choosing (and move seamlessly across channels), and giving agents the power to provide a personalized, one-to-one customer experience.
For example, say a customer opens her laptop and attempts to make a purchase on a company’s e-commerce website but discovers that the item she wants is out of stock. Because that she has a busy schedule and has to head to a business meeting across town, the customer reaches out to customer service via her mobile phone and files a ticket: is there a brick-and-mortar store nearby that carries the item? Yet because the customer has to cut the call short (after all, she has a meeting starting shortly) the support agent continues to do research.
When the customer steps out of her meeting, she receives a text from the support agent about her request—indeed, a store in the area does have the item she’s looking for. Because the company implemented a strategy for optimizing the customer experience, the agent could assist the customer across multiple touchpoints without a hitch. Well-designed CEM software should make it easy for an agent to review the customer journey, whether those customer interactions began on a website, social media, the phone, or email.
But consider the customer experience post-purchase—if a customer contacts your company with a problem, will your CEM strategy include self-service options? For many consumers, being able to resolve issues on their own through up-to-date knowledge content is an important part of a good customer experience (which, in turn, drives greater customer satisfaction). Sometimes, however, the best self-service content won’t cover a particular issue—but tools that track customer engagement on specific help pages can provide agents with key data about the customer experience and also point to gaps in FAQs.
In short, opting for omni-channel can play an outsize role in shaping (and implementing) your company’s customer-centric CEM, which can mean the difference between a positive customer experience and one that’s, well, not.
Integration with other business tools
Behind the scenes, a good customer experience owes a lot to how a company’s support team works, including how it collaborates with other teams such as product design, marketing, and sales. So ask yourself a question: when implementing your strategy for customer experience management, did you consider the importance of choosing software that integrates with other tools? For instance, chances are your business uses a CRM for sales purposes, communication applications such as Slack, and software production tools like Jira.
For instance, if your support team receives feedback about a bug in your product--something that negatively affects the customer experience, such as frequent crashes in a software application--agents can escalate and link tickets to specific issues in your issue-tracking application. That will give engineers valuable insight into the customer experience, which can then use that information to resolve the issue quickly. It also keeps agents in the loop about progress on fixing the bug, which can be communicated to customers in a timely manner, which can turn an inconvenience into a positive customer experience.
If there’s one must-have for customer experience management, it’s data. Without information detailing the customer experience, your business will be left in the dark about how to improve service and react to a changing business landscape. At the very least, the customer experience will suffer if you don’t have actionable insights about what happened, what might happen, and which actions your company should consider taking in the future.
Analytics will tell you about the customer experience, who your customers are, and give you an idea about when your support team might get slammed by heavy traffic or if there’s a common problem with one of your products. That data will be the backbone of your company’s efforts to provide proactive customer service, which builds customer loyalty, satisfaction, and sales.
Build a better customer experience
Customer experience management software, when paired with a solid customer experience strategy, will give you the power to not just meet customer needs but to surpass them. And by providing a truly great customer experience, your company will lay the groundwork for long-term success.