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The Customer's Point of View
How often do we contact customer support thinking that our problems/frustrations are going to be solved only to realize it has only just begun?  We’ve all been there.  When we call support we want to be heard, understood and we want our problems solved quickly and easily.  This is what we expect from customer service.  If we found a company that offered it, our loyalty would be gladly given and we may even become their evangelists.  But do we give our customers the kind of support that we ourselves expect?  The type of customer experience that offers more than customer satisfaction?  How can we increase our sales, reduce our costs AND offer our customers an experience that will make us heroes?

Excellence through Customer Experience Management (CEM)

Creating a superior customer experience requires that we understand the customer's point of view, states Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, Ph.D in Rules to Break and Laws to Follow. "What's it really like to be your customer? What is the day-in, day-out 'customer experience' your company is delivering? How does it feel to wait on hold on the phone? To open a package and not be certain how to follow the poorly translated instructions? To stand in line, be charged a fee, wait for a service call that was promised two hours ago, come back to an online shopping cart that's no longer there an hour later? Or what's it like to be remembered? To receive helpful suggestions? To get everything exactly as it was promised? To be confident that the answers you get are the best ones for you?" (Peppers and Rogers 2008)1.

Customer Experience Management is a business strategy that focuses and redefines the business from the customer’s view point.  It is not about managing the customer but about managing the experiences that the customer has with our business.  CEM must be embraced by the entire organization to be successful.  Just like CRM, it is a culture that must live and breathe from inside and outside our business. To achieve maximum ROI, it is imperative that business silos are eliminated, business processes are developed, customer expectations are clearly defined and that key metrics are tracked.  Only then will the foundation be set to offer our customer excellence through CEM.

Why is CEM important to my business and my customers?  Small and midsize businesses (SMBs) receive, on average, 21.5% of overall corporate profit from their service operations making customers pivotal to a successful organization2.  But surprisingly, many companies feel that they are not doing enough to ensure that they achieve this or capture additional sales from their customers. 

When one considers that it cost about 5 times less to do business with our existing customers, shouldn’t our operations be focused around them instead of solely for us? Best-in-Class organizations can achieve high levels of customer retention, increased service profitability and productivity with Customer Experience Management (CEM).  In fact, 60% of all respondents in a recent Aberdeen report2 plan on implementing CEM in the next 3 years.  The driving force?  The need to improve customer satisfaction, customer retention and increase cross-selling and up-selling.  


Best-in-Class service organizations have achieved 89% current customer retention, 28% current service profitability and 17% improvement in productivity by implementing CEM and improving performance efficiencies within the organization.  But, this success could not have been achieved without tracking and reporting customer facing metrics.  In fact, 76% if these organizations stated it was integral to this success.3

How do I go about developing a CEM to meet my business needs?

There are 5 key steps to developing a strong CEM platform.  They include:
  1. Identify your objectives –Do you want to increase customer retention by 30%, reduce service resolution time by 40%, increase service revenue by 20% or increase customer satisfaction by 40%?  Understand where you are today and where you want to be.  What’s in it for you and what’s in it for the customer?  Come up with key objectives that are attainable.
  2. Develop a strategy –Think of this as a high level plan to meet your CEM objectives.  Make sure you include how you are going to capture feedback from your customers and analyze the information received. Identify how to act on this data to improve your procedures and increase customer satisfaction.   And finally, you need a vehicle to measure what you have put in place.   If you are currently using a good CRM application, it should offer you the means to develop and implement your CEM strategy.
  3. Create business processes – This step is critical in making it all happen. Without it, maximum ROI will never be achieved.  Take some time to create your process maps and align them with you customer’s needs.  Make sure all key stakeholders are involved and are 100% behind the new procedures.  Doing this step right will allow you to automate workflows and eliminate silos resulting in increase productivity and reducing your costs.  Don’t think you need to do this?  Think again. If you and your team don’t have a process, how will customers know what to expect?   Consistency due to good customer-focused processes will bring great rewards.
  4. Track metrics – You’ve heard of the saying, “if you aren’t measuring you aren’t managing”. Analyzing how well you are doing is needed for continuous improvements to CEM.  It is the acid test on how successfully you are meeting objectives and can let you know what your ROI is.
  5. Get customer feedback – How will you ever know if you are successfully meeting your objectives, improving customer satisfaction or if you have achieved customer experience excellence without the voice of the customer?  Not sure where to go next with CEM?  I am sure your customer will have some ideas.



The Last Word on Customer Experience Management

Our customers are busy.  They want to do things quickly and painlessly.  Make sure they can engage with you the way they want to be engaged but also give them a unique experience.  It tells them that you know they are important.  Leverage customer portals so they can access a knowledge base, create service cases, view invoices and place orders on-line.  Personalize this experience by adding their logo to their portal or creating personalized messages with helpful tips. 

The voice of the customer is everywhere due to the internet and social media.  Don’t just stick with questionnaires to get feedback.  Use LinkedIn groups, Twitter, Facebook, newsletters and blogs to strengthen your relationships, generate ideas and make it easier to communicate with your customer they way they want to communicate.

Jessica Debor said it well in her article, CRM Gets Serious4.  "Loyalty is now driven primarily by a company's interaction with its customers and how well it delivers on their wants and needs."   How loyal are your customers?

Additional Resources: 

1. Peppers, Don and Martha Rogers, Ph.D. (2008), Rules to Break and Laws to Follow, Wiley, ISBN 978-0470227541
2. Zack Westenhofer and Sumair Dutta (January 2009).  “Service Management for SMBs:  Employing a Strategic Approach”.  Aberdeen Group.
3. Ian Michiels (September 2009).  “Customer Experience Management:  Engaging Loyal Customers to Evangelize Your Brand.”  Aberdeen Group.4. Debor, Jessica (2008-02-20). "CRM Gets Serious". CRM Magazine. http://www.destinationcrm.com/articles/default.asp?ArticleID=7495&TopicID=8