Customer Experience Management (CEM) is a process of managing all the interactions that a customer has with the company across various channels. There are a lot of things that build up the customer experience delivered by your company. It is the more holistic aspect of B2C interactions, creating and managing each experience throughout the customer lifecycle in order to build customer loyalty and uphold your brand image. According to Bruce Temkin, who was Vice President & Principal Analyst at Forrester Research focusing on customer experience, the essence of CEM is treating customers as individuals.
Everyone can learn something from those at the top by taking a peek at their business strategies. How did they secure their brand equity? Why are their customers so happy? What kind of customer experience are they providing?
Pay attention to what your customers want and if you don’t have any customer feedback program in place then get one immediately. Social interaction forums like Facebook, Twitter, blogs or even a simple comments section on your webpage would be great. Customers are constantly letting you know what they want and you need to tap into this treasured knowledge. Your customer service reps are the direct recipients of important information so ensure that a) your staff is well-trained and b) you communicate openly with them. A free communication channel between executives, staff and customers allows for healthier Customer Relationship Management leading to improved CEM.
Leading conglomerates like Amazon and Apple have a strong customer-centric focus, which is reflected in their business philosophy loud and clear. From top to bottom everyone is actively involved in ensuring customer satisfaction, managing all complaints/queries efficiently and staying accessible. The touch points of any quality-driven company, i.e. places where contact occurs between the company and its customers will always emphasize dedicated service and pleasant environment. For example, proper maintenance of premises, well-mannered employees and ensuing customers are warmly greeted.
Whatever industry you’re in, stick to the rulebook and enforce ethical business practices. Fair trade has become a global phenomenon and keeping open, transparent policies will win you respect and advantage.
CEM mandates consistency. You must maintain consistent quality in service delivery and build up a good experience with an even better one the next time. Connect with customers on a personal level, whether it’s a face-to-face or virtual transaction. Amazon and Zappos are prime examples of companies with the happiest customers. They topped last year’s Global Leaders Survey list for outstanding CEM. Zappos emphasizes individual attention and customers receive personalized notes after each transaction. If this goes beyond your budget, a warm, friendly tone will help you create a personalized atmosphere.
Amazon was one of the forerunners in building a ‘community of customers’ where customers shared reviews giving consumer market insight. When customers interact and share thoughts, they expand their customer experience while allowing a company to track the strengths and weaknesses of its performance. When a company is aware of the experience it is providing in light of what it aimed to deliver, it benefits everybody.
Small players can rely on comments section on their website/social media pages and product reviews that provide data on what builds loyalty, purchase histories and behavioral patterns. These statistics help in understanding what the customers want and therefore help companies provide better experience to them.
In the past, companies have taken up different components of CEM and tried to apply them single-handedly to attain business success: Customer service support, brand perception, effective feedback management, customer relationship management, analyzing consumer behavior etc. The combined value exceeds the individual sum, and therein lies the key for executing a cohesive CEM plan for gaining widespread customer loyalty.
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