Five Things That Will Redefine Customer Experience in 2018

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What is Customer Experience Management (CEM)? Google it and you’ll find various definitions that explain this currently-buzz worthy concept.

We live in the age of the customer and it’s time to clarify what CEM truly means. Before I get into that, let’s define what CEM isnot: collecting feedback, responding to feedback, or tracking your Net Promoter Score – none of these actions individually represent Customer Experience Management.

In simple terms, CEM refers to the complete ideology and methodology that makes your business delightful to work with for customers.

How do you take this from boardroom to execution? More importantly, how do you win the Customer Experience (CX) race in 2018?

In the race to customer delight, here are a few things that I believe will shape Customer Experience in the coming year:

  1. Studying and Mapping the Entire Customer Journey

The core objective of CEM is to deliver delight, but first, your customers need to be engaged. Customer engagement can either be ad hoc or part of a bigger plan, but ultimately, organizations should understand the entire customer journey. It’s not enough to take a single point along the journey to survey and understand your customer; it will most likely be ineffective as you won’t have enough context – How did the customer get to this point? What are they looking for? Where are they heading in the overall journey?

Customer journeys provide context around the customer’s experience with a brand. They help you ask the right questions at the right time, thereby building brand engagement and trust that help guide the journey to the point of purchase.

A complete understanding of customer journeys and investing in advanced analytics to identify the drivers of CX is going to be critical for customer success in 2018.

  1. Becoming Truly Omni-Channel

Modern-day customer interactions encompass a wide range of touchpoints – mobile, web, social, interactive voice response (IVR), in-store, chatbots and more. This brings us to the concept of omni-channel. Customers today switch between these different channels frequently, say in the middle of a purchase or even during discovery. We predict that omni-channel is only going to get bigger with the proliferation of channels; therefore, customer journey mapping has to include every touchpoint and channel where your customers have a presence.

The first condition to being truly omni-channel is that you need to be multi-channel – meaning, available wherever your customers are. Having these channels up and running is one thing, making them work together seamlessly as part of the overall journey is another.

  1. Intelligent Loop Closure through Seamless Integrations

Brands are obliged to resolve customer queries. The catch? Only 4% of dissatisfied customers actually complain. Mapping journeys and creating omni-channel strategies drives customer engagement and helps organizations proactively engage with the customer across touchpoints, thereby ensuring that they are listening.

When it comes to helping customers, different businesses have different systems for support. Customer Experience Management ensures that poor feedback automatically becomes a support ticket to proactively resolve the issue. Regardless of the industry of your business, customer support tickets are a priority.

The only way to access these insights and accurately prioritize these customer tickets is if you are fully integrated with systems of records, which provide customer context. These systems include loyalty platforms, CRM software, Point of Sale systems, etc.

Ease of integration and seamless flow of information between these kinds of systems will be a pre-requisite for a CX program to enable intelligent loop closure in 2018.

  1. Personalized Insights and Real-Time Systems

In 2018, customer experience strategies will require coordination and alignment between various teams. Your customers want a holistic brand experience, which means your employees need to be equipped with the right insights in relation to their role. For example, store managers should view metrics around store NPS and ambience, while a CEO should be able to view organization-wide NPS, customer satisfaction (CSAT), and other holistic metrics.

Customer needs are evolving at an unprecedented rate. By 2018, one of the most important pre-requisites of a great CX will be the ability to monitor feedback and offer actionable insights in real-time. CEM platforms will need to be real-time – from making changes and driving integrations, to configuring the whole system. The result will be a clearer picture of what your customers think about your brand and how to manage their expectations.

  1. Advanced Analytics to Prioritize Investments

Any organization can collect raw data about customers – extracting insights from it is the real challenge. As we move into 2018, make sure your analytics engine is one step ahead of your competition and your customers. Why? Most business decisions are based on data and the insights derived from them. If these insights are inaccurate or outdated, your CX program is likely to stagnate and not deliver impactful outcomes.

An effective CEM program is one that comes with disruptive analytics. It tells you what aspect of your brand’s customer experience has maximum impact on metrics like Net Promoter Score, Customer Effort Score and more.

Leveraging deep learning and AI can help precisely gauge customer sentiment. Deep learning enables organizations to identify the nature of sentiment – positive, negative, neutral – from customer conversations. Power your analytics platform with technologies such as path analysis and predictive analytics to deep dive into customer behavior and purchasing patterns, and drive proactive improvement strategies. While path analysis uses historical customer data to identify underlying influencers of CX, predictive is about using this data to run what-if scenarios for the future. With path analysis, organizations can identify correlations between the various factors that drive CX, and from these correlations, establish causation.

Ultimately, any CX investment should be linked with a financial return. What is the incremental revenue impact of working on ‘store ambience’ and ‘website experience’ and improving ratings of these aspects by say, 15%? On what basis would you invest in these improvements? Path analysis gives you a clear picture of how the drivers of CX impact the bottom line and what steps you can take to improve it.

Truly understanding your customers and addressing their pain points will set you apart in 2018. Utilizing advanced tools, such as a churn predictor to predict bad experiences, will help anticipate what customers will do when their relationship with your brand is tested. A superior analytics engine should be able to provide foresight on financial returns. Because ultimately, CX is an investment unlike any other.

To sum it up, CEM in 2018 will be all the above-mentioned concepts put together to improve the customer experience. A company’s true asset is the customer – not the money in the bank, the numbers, or the metrics. Loyal customers are the gift that keeps giving – keep them delighted and they’re yours forever.

2 COMMENTS

  1. This is a fantastic article. We are going to touch on this in our podcast today (feel free to listen at https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-real-estate-hustle/id1292928078?mt=2). In real estate, everything is all about the customer experience. This is something we have focused on 100% in our real estate business and something we are always teaching people about in our real estate education. I never realized the importance of this until I actually experienced it with one company about 5 years ago. My experience with them was so incredibly powerful that I ran back to my real estate business and did my best to implement everything that I experienced in my experience into MY customer’s experience.

    I live in a town of HORRIBLE customer service. This is a huge reason why I stress it so much. It helps us to EASILY stand out from our competitors. Thank you for a great article!

  2. Thank you Rick and apologies for the delayed response. The podcast was fantastic !! Your points are spot on – I genuinely believe that businesses now need to start building Customer inwards as opposed to trying to “fit” the customer into the experience we’ve already created. More power to you !

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