Customer experience management (CEM) is a collection of tools and processes companies use to track, monitor, and organize interactions between a customer and the business. The goal is to create seamless, personalized, positive customer experiences across all touchpoints.
It contributes directly to sales and your customers’ perception of the brand. From better customer retention to using feedback for business improvements, customer experience management can benefit brands when done correctly. Let’s discuss.
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Customer experience management is about understanding your customers in detail. CEM allows you to deliver more personalized experiences that can help increase sales and revenue while boosting brand loyalty. Many businesses use software, analytics tools, research, and data-management systems to drive customer engagement, satisfaction, and loyalty.
Some confuse customer service management with customer service because the two terms share some similarities. However, customer service assists a buyer with a specific need in a particular circumstance. CS typically occurs in the support areas of your business, like your call center, where representatives work directly with a customer to solve a problem.
Conversely, CEM begins the moment customers start thinking about your brand’s product or service. It continues through purchasing and product use. Customer service is just one small piece of customer experience management.
This big-picture marketing operations concept has three components to consider:
Customer interaction is any communication between your business and a consumer. Whether it’s a customer calling your helpline, chatbot conversations, viewing a commercial or print ad, or someone messaging your brand’s Instagram page, these are all forms of customer interaction.
No matter how small it may seem, every customer interaction matters and plays a role in the overall customer experience. A bad customer interaction could push your audience into the arms of your competitors, so it’s essential to be proactive in ensuring each customer interaction you have is positive.
A touchpoint is any time a customer interacts with your brand. This can happen in various ways, including engaging with your website or social media, speaking with an employee, or seeing an advertisement. Every touchpoint allows your business to engage potential customers and offer them an exceptional experience that can transform them into loyalists.
Every business should understand where its touchpoints are by creating a customer journey map. This tool can help companies visualize their customers’ journey from start to finish.
The customer journey is the series of interactions with your brand or product before making a purchase decision. It includes these five stages:
End-to-end customer journey mapping allows you to adjust when customers identify pain points during interactions. Addressing pain points can help boost customer satisfaction, driving retention and boosting revenue.
You must acquire and retain a loyal customer base for your business to grow and maintain long-term success. Not only is this important for earning revenue, but it’s also what establishes your brand reputation and how you stand out.
Focus on providing a positive customer experience. Invest time and resources into addressing pain points and heeding customer feedback. Your business’s reputation will reflect it.
The value of customer experience management has data to back it up:
- A Bain & Company study found that businesses focusing on customer experience management drive revenue 4-8% higher than competitors.
- A 2017 Microsoft consumer service report found that 96% of customers agree that customer service plays a role in their loyalty to a brand.
- Companies with customer experience management initiatives in place see more employee engagement, and a Gallup poll found that companies with engaged employees outperform the competition by 147%.
There are also several real-world examples of brands that have revived their base by focusing on customer experience management. Examples include:
Chipotle leveled up its approach to the customer experience during the COVID-19 pandemic. Chipotle is best known for its quick, fresh counter-service approach that reimagined the fast-food experience.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Chipotle customers expressed concern about entering restaurants and contracting the virus. This led restaurants to innovate adaptive survival strategies.
Chipotle listened to customer concerns and launched “Chipotlanes.” These drive-thru lanes allow customers to place mobile orders with quick turnaround times and then pick up their orders without leaving their cars.
Listening to consumer feedback to improve the customer experience proved a great business move, as locations with a Chipotlane significantly outperform non-Chipotlane locations. Since its success, the company plans to continue including this drive-thru option in at least 80% of the new restaurants it builds.
Disney is a leading example when emphasizing customer experience management, particularly when visiting Disney theme parks. The company works hard to create a seamless experience for guests by focusing on convenience and ease of use for the consumer during their end-to-end journey with the brand.
Disney’s theme park audience is families, particularly those with young children. Imagine the chaos that could ensue at the park entrance when parents are frantically fishing through backpacks to find their child’s paper ticket only to realize they forgot it, or it got damaged. That could damper anyone’s vacation, but this will never happen at Disney parks.
You can use your mobile phone as a ticket or purchase a Magic Band at Disney. Magic Bands are customizable wristbands connected to your Disney account, allowing you to enter the parks, open your hotel room door, and pay for items like food and merchandise throughout the Disney properties.
Using a Magic Band makes the theme park experience much easier to navigate for guests because everything you need is right on your wrist. It sets Disney apart from any other theme park and works for Disney’s bottom line.
FACT: Disney Worlds averages over 58 million visitors annually, making it the most visited vacation resort in the world.
When you think about furniture shopping, you may picture strolling through your local furniture store on a Saturday afternoon while eager salespeople approach you around every corner. It’s typically not a fun experience. The shopping experience is quite the opposite at Ikea.
Shopping at Ikea is an all-day excursion. The company executives worked hard to take the aspects of furniture shopping that often cause tension for customers and build on them to reimagine what the shopping experience looks like.
At Ikea, all the aisles are smartly designed and curated to show customers exactly what the furniture would look like in different settings. Some displays also provide inspiration on how to style pieces in homes. Due to its Swedish roots, the products and general layout at Ikea emphasize functionality, showing consumers how to make the most out of their spaces and customize their furniture to fit lifestyles and needs.
Ikea also understands that not everyone has an entire day to spend meandering in the store, so it also offers a mobile app. Customers can browse the online catalog and make a shopping list to skip the wandering and expedite the experience.
Other approaches and offerings, like lunch at the infamous Ikea restaurant in all its stores, make the company stand out. Ikea’s approach to the customer experience works in its favor. It was ranked as the eighth most valuable retailer in the world in 2022.
No matter how big or small your business is, you can see significant benefits by focusing on customer experience management. Gain a solid understanding of your customers’ wants, needs, and expectations. They are the heart of your business, so you must take the time to get to know them.
Understanding your customers allows you to offer better products, improve customer service, retain your current audience, and gain new customers. You can start getting to know your customers better by:
- Creating buyer personas
- Collecting customer feedback
- Implementing customer data
- Analyzing web and social insights
From there, you can explore what is and isn’t essential to your audience and make necessary adjustments. Do your customers think your product is too expensive? Maybe you can adjust the pricing or offer more promos and sales. Does your audience want more transparency from your brand? Perhaps you can change how your brand presents itself and engages with customers on social media.
A few key components that should be present in any effective customer experience management initiative, including:
Adding the ability to personalize aspects of a consumer’s engagement with your brand can greatly improve the customer experience as personalization makes customers feel valued and understood. Tailoring experiences to individual customer preferences differentiates your business from competitors that don’t offer customization.
You can provide more personalization by segmenting your audience and delivering tailored content and offers to each specific group. Allow customers to choose what channels you can reach them on (like whether they opt-in to email communications).
Increased personalization options also help boost customer engagement and satisfaction. Studies have found that consumers are more likely to become repeat customers when a business offers a personalized shopping experience. This means that not only will your customers be happy, but your bottom line will get a boost, too.
Maintaining consistency across all channels and touchpoints is key to offering a positive customer experience. This means you should coordinate your messaging across all platforms, both digital and physical, to ensure the customer experience is seamless as they travel between channels.
Being consistent in your omnichannel marketing approach makes your business reliable to consumers. They’ll receive consistent responses and know they can rely on your brand for a cohesive customer experience no matter what channel they engage with you on.
If you’re willing to listen, your customers will tell you exactly what they want and need from you. Collect customer feedback whenever possible, whether you’re administering customer satisfaction surveys or reading through product reviews or social media comments.
Once you’ve gathered customer feedback, you can act on any insights you’ve pulled and make changes to continuously improve the customer experience. Then, once you’ve made some changes, you can monitor your analytics to determine which improvements have been most successful at different points in the customer journey.
Customer experience management (CEM) is a collection of tools and processes companies use to track, monitor, and organize interactions between customers and businesses. CEM strategies create seamless, positive customer experiences across all touchpoints and platforms.
Focusing on customer experience management can have a significant and direct impact on revenue, brand reputation, customer satisfaction, and loyalty. Improving the customer experience differentiates you from brands not focused on the end-to-end customer journey.
Without customers, there is no business. That’s why it’s important to consider what your audience wants and pivot accordingly. Develop your best customer experience management strategies and help your brand thrive.