The term “customer experience” has seen a lot of buzz over recent months. As the age of the “empowered customer” begins with earnest, organizations are beginning to realize that the only way that they can truly differentiate themselves from their competitors, is to offer a unique, memorable experience to their customers. Unfortunately, the practices and methodologies that have emerged around customer experience can be a little confusing if you’re new to the area.
While most people understand that customer experience or CX is important, few people know about the concept of customer experience management. In some circumstances, the two are even seen as identical concepts. However, the truth is that there are important differences between CEM and CX. Learning all you can about both could help you to run a more successful business.
Customer Experience is perhaps the simplest concept to understand. It describes every interaction your client has with your business, from the moment they start thinking about your product, from the time they communicate with your sales team. When you begin exploring the possibilities of CX, you’ll discover that there are numerous approaches to the subject. However, the most important element to understand is the customer journey.
The customer journey is the experience that clients go through when interacting with your brand and company. This relates to everything from research, to discovery, to purchasing and customer support. In CX, you examine each of these things from the customer’s perspective. When businesses try to differentiate themselves using customer experience, they focus on improving the customer journey and making it better than the experiences the client has with competitors.
The Harvard Business Review published a model of the customer journey that can be useful for this process. This model states that the journey involves four distinct phases: - Consider - Evaluate - Purchase - Enjoy/Advocate/Bond
Each phase has its own elements, and improving the customer journey means identifying how to enhance each phase in different ways.
Customer experience is a discipline that has evolved in recent years. As the world emerges from a more digital experience, we have placed more emphasis on transforming the products and services that we create. In other words, companies are focusing on making websites, devices, apps, and stores easier to use, and more personalized for the customer.
A second discipline known as “customer-centric” thinking has also evolved in the current marketplace, intended to help ensure that product production and other elements of the development cycle were considered with the ideal customer in mind. Combined with the digital benefits of big data and real-time analytics, this first-hand approach to customer experience has allowed businesses to make more informed decisions about the way they interact with customers.
Customer experience management, otherwise known as CXM or CEM, is the varied processes that a company uses to oversee, track, and organize different interactions with customers and organizations throughout the customer lifecycle. The idea behind CEM is that interactions can be optimized from a customer perspective, fostering better customer loyalty. To better manage the customer experience, companies can begin to create strategies that allow for stronger interactions.
Customer experience management requires businesses to take on a 350-degree view of their customers, complete with up-to-date and integrated data on their accounts. More than ever before, customer experiences have begun to include interactions offered through traditional channels, such as website purchases, live chat, and phone calls, as well as text, social media, and other communication mediums.
As new touch points for interactions between customers and companies continue to emerge, more complexity occurs for businesses who want to stand out. There’s more data to process, and this data must be integrated with the existing information in the business. The ability to combine things like inventory management, with customer relationship management and CEM can be incredibly beneficial, but challenging.
Today’s modern organizations are making the most of customer data analytics and business intelligence to uncover more about how they can sell to their customers in a more one-on-one personalized way. With the demand for customization, has come new technologies and strategies, including beacons and mobile marketing, which allow companies to recognize where their customers are, and market to them at the right time.
In some instances, the use of data can mean that companies are able to give customers more relevant information about their purchases so that they can improve their experience in real time. In fact, some businesses are even using emerging tech like emotional analytics to figure out whether their customers are really benefiting from their interactions. Emotional analytics are currently the most effective in customer service, supply chain management, and inventory management.
Tools for knowledge management have also become more important in providing more seamless experiences to customers. Agents can use these unique tools to access customer interactions and product information from previous buyer journeys. That data can then be enhanced with inventory information and customer data to provide more accurate information to clients.
The concept of CEM comes from a philosophy based on service. The idea behind this “service orientation” approach to business, is that each company sells services, not products. Even if you are selling a physical item, the services that you offer to your customers should be distinguishable from the product itself. Customer experience has taken this idea of services and gone a step further, to suggest that we’re all selling “experiences”.
For an insight into companies that have adapted to the CEM world well, you need only turn to the entertainment industry. Great cinemas know that they’re selling their customers an experience - not just a movie. Disney is another fantastic example of a business that knows how to sell experience. While there might be other theme parks out there that are cheaper, and offer bigger, faster rides - nothing comes close to Disney when it comes to delivering an experience.
The same is true for BMW - one of the first companies focused on products to start adopting the CEM philosophy. Today, BMW don’t market their products from a focus of selling cars, instead, they’re interested in selling pride, and joy to their customers, through their product.
Everything that modern companies do, they do to create a feeling for their target audience - something that is absolutely unique within the marketplace. The idea is that why products and items fade, an experience can stay within the heart of your customers for a lifetime.
If you want to make sure that you’re evolving for the CEM marketplace, then you’ll need to make sure that everything from your product development, to your customer interactions, are oriented around CEX. Simply bolting on an extra CX strategy isn’t enough. You’ll need to transform your entire organization to make sure that you’re living and breathing great experiences.