Customer Experience Management
This page explores why should intentionally manage customer experience and how to do so.
To help you quickly find the information you need, I’ve split my explanation of Customer Experience Management into ten sections and included a table of contents. Or you can just read everything. It takes around eight minutes.
What is Customer Experience Management (CXM)?
CXM is the intentional management of our part in our customers’ journeys. It helps us meet customer needs during every interaction. CXM can be strategic / proactive or responsive. Both approaches add value.
Why Manage Customer Experience?
Whether you manage Customer Experience or not, your customers will build a perception of products, services and journeys. Leave it to chance and other pressures will drive unbalanced decision making and lead to unhappy customers.
Intentionally managing Customer Experience will help you meet customer needs across your products, services and journeys. As a result, you will experience less churn, more repeat-, up- and cross-sells and greater levels of customer advocacy. Your costs will also reduce as you take out the cost of unhappy customers and inefficient internal processes.
Historically Customer Experience wasn’t taught. It was absent from MBAs, degrees and other curricula. Now my friend’s daughter is studying Customer Experience as part of her Business and Management BTEC. But there are still many people who haven’t had the opportunity to appreciate Customer Experience Management as a lever to growth.
That is why these statistics on the benefits of CX are relevant to everyone. They compare businesses that manage CX with those that do not.
What's stopping you manage customer experience?
- We are all busy. Who has time to manage CX?
- No-one wants to hear their customer experience isn’t great. I notice that many people feel their CX is exemplary without management. Indeed, I liken the news of opportunities to improve to telling someone their baby is ugly.
- Because it isn’t taught, you might not know where to start. Millions of words are written about CX every month – yet few say what to do first.
- The more you leave CX to chance, the more you have to work to recruit and retain customers and the less time you have to change your ways of working. This post gives more on the impacts of accidental customer journey design.
Is it surprising few businesses make time for customer experience management?
How to Manage Customer Experience
There are three activities involved in successfully managing Customer Experience.
- Understand your customers
- Meet their needs
- Deliver a return on your investment
Before we dive into these subjects in more detail you may wonder when part three happens.
I recommend starting your CX journey with a Project – tackling specific issues and quickly improving CX and business performance. This way you learn how to do all activities and see the benefits of Customer Experience Management first-hand.
Some businesses continue with more Projects. Others decide to adapt the way they work to proactively manage their Customer Experience – I call this Embedding Customer Experience Management. Whichever you choose, we will always start by understand what you need to achieve.
Understand your customers
Understanding your customers is hard. We have all heard the phrase:
Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes
But we tend to imagine ourselves in their shoes. While there are many ways to better understand customers, we have to let go our of pre-conceptions and see the world through a different set of perceptions.
To help everyone in your business truly understand your customers you need to:
- Think about your customers in a structured way. Common tools for this include Value Propositions, Empathy Maps and Journey Maps.
- Ask them. Always confirm the assumptions you made when thinking about customers. And use surveys and other listening posts, focus groups and interviews to learn more.*
- Blend understanding with data. Use UX, marketing, sales and support data to enrich your understanding, as well as understanding the differences within your customer base.
- Build and share insights. Add marketing and other data to your findings and build problem statements, understand what is important, balance your business scorecards and tell customer stories.
*I suggest thinking about customers and then testing your assumptions so it is easier for you to understand the gaps in your understanding and accept your customer’s point of view.
Meet your customers' needs
To meet your customers’ needs you must design your products, services and journeys and improve them as the customers’ situation or your understanding changes.
- Decide what to change. Define your benefits and use prioritisation methods and the questions behind a business case to choose the best targets for your work.
- Choose what to protect and prevent. As you understand what your customers’ need you can build design rules to protect the things you do well and prevent the reoccurrence of issues.
- Design solutions. Intentionally design your products, services and journeys. Start ‘outside in’ by designing the ideal experience and then work out how to deliver it consistently. Understand what you have to do to implement your solution. Finalise your business case and get buy in.
- Deliver change. All the customer thinking in the world is worth nothing unless you change how you operate. Use Governance and Change and Project Management to be successful in your change.
Earn a return on your investment
You can’t sit back on your laurels with CXM.
If you build it, they will not necessary come
You must ask customers what they want, tell them you listened and took action, engage your happy customers to sell more and understand your unhappy customers to reduce (or accept) churn.
- Improve your support. Prevent the leaks in your pipeline with enhanced pre-sales support, including your content. Turn churners into stayers by meeting their needs during post-sales support.
- Tell your customers you meet their needs. Help customers find what they need in your products, services and journeys. Practice ‘you said, we did’.
- Sell more. Approach happy customers with offers that meet their needs and with opportunities to be the first to try your new products and services.
- Save money. Remove waste from your processes. Move staff to jobs where they can improve support, engage customers and sell more.
- Read more about earning a return on your CXM investment on this knowledge hub.
What a CXM intervention might cover
CXM covers every intervention your customer has with your business. So you might choose to work on:
- Marketing – making promises you can keep and answering the questions of potential customers so they continue their journey with you, not a competitor.
- Sales – making the sales process helpful and slick.
- Onboarding – setting your customers up for success.
- Delivery and unboxing – the physical equivalent of onboarding.
- Use – ensuring the customer gets their job done while meeting their psychological and social needs.
- Support – getting customers back on track when they are stuck or your offer has let them down.
But there is more to delivering a brilliant customer journey than focusing on the interactions. Everyone plays a part and your CXM should ensure internal process don’t cause breakdowns and disconnects in the customer journey.
CXM tools include the Voice of the Customer, Customer Journey Mapping, Value Propositions, North Stars, Empathy Maps, Customer Profiles, Personalisation, Automation, Data Management and business activities such as Governance, Change Management and Project Management.
Everyone of my services is individual as you have unique needs. They are each based on sound and proven tools and methods.
Customer Experience Management is more than a toolset
Customer Experience Management is about mindset.
Your employees reflect the behaviours they experience to customers – whether they face customers directly or work more operationally. So you need to adopt and exhibit key behaviours.
- Working collaboratively, there is no space for firefighters or heroes in CXM, everyone has a part to play and everyone’s voice is important.
- Listening and taking on board other viewpoints.
- Managing CX means setting strategic goals, but note, as you start your customer experience journey those goals may be all about your capabilities and the projects you run.
- Recognising and balancing the needs of all your stakeholders, including customers.
- Being ready to take decisions that have long-term benefits, even if you take a hit in the short-term.
- Getting stuck into action and learning lessons.
- Being open to new perspectives and ideas, even (especially) when they are hard to hear.
- Improving all the time. Customer needs change, employee needs change, external factors change. If you stay the same, you are falling behind.
- Trusting your team to do the right thing (while enabling them).