By Gordon Evans
What do Zappos, Apple, Starbucks and Mercedes all have in common? Each has mastered the art and science of customer experience management.
That probably doesn’t come as a surprise. We’ve all become highly adept at recognizing and rewarding brands that exceed our expectations at every turn — and punishing brands that don’t.
But from a marketing perspective, let’s step back and examine: What is customer experience management? And most importantly, how can your brand deliver personalized customer journeys similar to the companies we all admire?
Simply put, customer experience management is the coordination of all interactions customers have with a brand. Every place a customer can interact with a company — either digitally or physically — is a touchpoint, and the experience customers receive at each touchpoint shapes their perceptions. When brands consistently produce positive perceptions, they consistently achieve their goals.
Sound a bit nebulous? Perhaps on the surface, but customer experience management is readily measurable. Net promoter score (NPS) is a proven method of assessing the health of customer perceptions, and metrics abound for measuring engagement across channels like email, social, mobile, and advertising. From click-through rates and conversions to downloads and @mentions, customers tell you every single day how you are doing.
Think Like a Customer, Not a Marketer
Brands that excel at customer experience management look at the relationship from the customer’s perspective; they don’t think in terms of departments or lifecycles. The boundaries have blurred because the always-connected customer doesn’t care whether it’s a service, marketing, or sales interaction. That customer just wants his or her needs met quickly and consistently regardless of what channel or device they choose.
Each step of the way, customers provide insights into their wants, interests, and lifestyles. By combining all available data sources into individual contact records that are living, breathing, and constantly evolving, marketers can fill the customer engagement tank with the fuel to power highly relevant 1-to-1 communications.
This can be a major challenge for marketers, as new communication channels and touchpoints create greater complexity. Companies must not only harness a 360-degree view of the customer, they must apply automation and processes to interpret and act.
Customer Experience Management Strategies
Next, let’s examine some customer experience tactics that brands of all shapes, sizes, and industries should consider.
- CMOs Lead the Way: Don’t wait until your business gets disrupted. Be the disruptor. Because CMOs now have greater responsibility for driving the customer relationship than ever before, marketing — in partnership with sales, service, and IT — is ideally positioned to tear down data and software silos. If you’re like most, these are your greatest barriers.
- Embrace 4 Key Shifts in Technology: Cloud computing means marketers can create and manage campaigns without dependence on IT or the restraints of outdated technology. Mobile capabilities provide immense new opportunities to engage consumers and enhance cross-channel campaigns. Social media provides a direct channel to listen, engage, publish, and analyze with pinpoint precision. Artificial intelligence empowers brands to discover relevant insights, predict future behavior, proactively recommend next actions, and even automate tasks.
- Map the Customer Journey: Customers expect 1-to-1 relationships with brands. Success requires understanding when, where, how, and why customers engage throughout the lifecycle and across the organization. The ultimate goal is to develop a plan for every touchpoint, but don’t let that stop you from starting with a few quick-win opportunities.
- Leverage Real-time Data: Deliver personalized experiences to specific audiences at exact points in time. Pair customer data like demographics, history, and preferences with real-time triggers like behaviors, location, and even anticipated needs. This makes it possible to detect and connect discrete interactions on each individual customer’s terms.
- Connect Disparate Channels: Deliver 1-to-1 personalization at scale using automation and a cohesive platform. Coordinate content and campaigns across digital and physical channels, collecting data as you go, not only aligns your brand’s voice across touchpoints. It’ll help create a 360-degree view of your customer.
- Measure the Big Picture: It’s imperative to set specific business goals across the enterprise, and correlate how each step of the customer journey influences attainment. Align objectives to major phases of the lifecycle, like awareness and acquisition, onboarding and engagement, and retention and advocacy. Do not attempt without your peers from sales and service.
Start Your Journey Today
Customer experience management is the key to delivering seamless journeys across marketing, sales, and service. Understanding how your customers engage with your brand on digital and physical channels — then designing and automating personalized campaigns to engage them throughout the lifecycle — will help to ensure the entire enterprise meets its goals in 2017.