A customer experience program is a systematic approach to improving the way your business interacts with, and provides value to, its customers. It involves listening to what your customers are saying about you, and acting on the insights you gain. Designing an effective customer experience program is the first step to creating world-class customer experiences.
Why set up a customer experience program?
The rationale behind investing in customer experience (CX) goes something like this:
When your customers have a great experience, they’ll be more loyal and less inclined to switch brands. They’ll freely recommend your products and services to others and they’ll spend more, providing more value to your business. In fact, satisfied customers are 5 times more likely to buy from you again.
It’s not surprising, then, that many organizations across a whole range of industries are waking up to the importance of customer experience and the impact customer experience management can have.
So what is customer experience management, and how do you make sure high-quality customer experiences are the norm for your company?
As we’ve outlined, the customer experience isn’t something you can wholly control, since the customer plays a part in defining their own experience. CX management then is all about optimizing the parts you can control, largely through understanding your customers and their values, needs and behaviors.
The answer for many is to set up and maintain a customer experience program – a dedicated function within your company or organization. Its purpose is to measure, understand and improve the customer experience, and to work across every part of your business operations to make sure standards are high.
Attributes of a great customer experience program
Creating the perfect customer experience program takes a lot of effort from a lot of stakeholders across an organization. Here are 5 ingredients for a good all-around program to think through:
1. Across-the-board company engagement
Either directly or indirectly, everyone in your organization has an effect on the customer experience, not just the front-line customer-facing teams or marketing department.
If leaders value customers, those reporting to them will too. All key decision-makers, from the CEO, through tiers of management to the shop floor need to understand the organization’s vision of customer experience, and feel empowered to deliver on it.
2. Customer journey mapping
Understanding customer journeys is a key part of getting your program right. In mapping a customer journey, you’re taking a walk in a customer’s shoes as they go through the process of completing a task or making a purchase with your business.
Customer journeys, like customer experiences, are unique to the individuals undertaking them and aren’t something you can engineer. However, by collecting feedback and observations from customers you can establish detailed maps of the most common – or most important – journeys related to your business.
With your customer journey maps as a guide, you can optimize your processes, policies and company culture to support easy, positive journeys for your customers and raise the overall level of experience quality.
3. Digital customer experience know-how
Digital interactions such as ecommerce and online services require special attention within your program. Digital CX covers everything from the quality and usability of your website to the integration between your customer contact center and social media platforms. It will involve customer experiences on mobile devices, laptops, desktops, tablets and any other connected devices.
While this part of your operation may be focused on digital, remember that a customer’s experience will probably not be. Customers are likely to be switching between online and offline environments throughout the customer journey, and at times doing both at once (such as shopping in store while consulting an app or website).
Integrating digital CX within your wider program means building a team and a process that will not only account for digital environments but will be set up to deal with their wider context within a multi-platform, multi-modal customer journey.
4. The right kind of data
At the heart of any customer experience program is data. That covers everything from customer feedback to your core operational metrics like revenue, profit and sales.
Most organizations have plenty of operational data. Things like revenue, website analytics and shopper behavior all tell you what’s happened in the past.
But where a customer experience comes into its own is by layering in experience data – the data that tells you the human stories behind those rising and falling numbers, and helps explain the “why” of the trends and patterns you see.
So putting customer feedback alongside your operational data is at the foundation of any program – it gives context to your customers’ actions and allows you to start making connections and understand the levers to pull to impact your operational metrics.
Customer feedback needs to be collected and monitored systematically, from all your key touchpoints, i.e. your website, call centers, stores, mobile app, even social media and online review sites. But beyond just collecting the data, you’ll need to make sense of it too with analytical tools like text analysis, key driver analysis and easy-to-use statistical tests.
5. Tech to turn data into actions
What is CX software’s value for your organization?
A good-quality CXM (customer experience management) platform will support your team in gathering experience data, organizing and categorizing it in a usable way, and helping you communicate across departmental silos where present.
That technology also needs to go one step further, giving you the tools to analyze and report on your findings and ultimately, turn your data into improvements. By opting for a platform with advanced analytical tools, you can unlock more value from your CX program and use it to discover the behavioral key drivers underpinning your findings, assign weighting and priorities to your improvement to-do-list, and even make predictions on future developments that will help you plan ahead.
Choosing a software platform for your customer experience program
Your customer experience program will be easier to manage and scale with the help of a customer experience management (CXM) platform. A good platform will do a lot of the heavy lifting for you, and is an important investment to make. Here are some features to look out for when making your choice:
Within a large business, communicating experience data can quickly become complex if you’re using conventional channels like email or IM. Instead, look for CX program software that can be set up to cascade information automatically and instantly to the right people so they can take action fast.
Platform-agnostic cloud software
A responsive, cloud-based platform that is accessible on a range of devices means there are no additional barriers to sharing data with the right people, at the right time.
Closed-loop follow up
Choose a system where front-line staff can quickly act on customer feedback to help solve issues faster, before they become critical problems.
Integration with third-party services
Especially valuable for digital CX, easy integration allows you to receive feedback from customers on external platforms such as social media and review sites, and even respond to them in those environments, all from within your CXM software.
Support for feedback in a range of formats
Make it easier for customers to share their experiences by providing a range of options like web intercept, chatbot, IM and SMS, as well as email and web-based surveys.
Responsive, expert support
Choose a provider that offers expert advice and support as standard, wherever you are in the world. Whether you’re ramping up your first CX program or developing a custom solution to enhance your existing one, choose a team that’s trusted by thousands worldwide.