Customer expectations are higher than ever. In a world where convenience is everything, companies need to work harder than ever to meet and exceed their customer’s expectations.
But the methods we’re using to manage the customer experience are stuck in the past. We’re still surveying customers the same way we were in the 90s, still battling siloed data and processes, and still relying on guesswork or bureaucratic reports to choose potential initiatives. This leaves companies falling fall behind what customers actually want.
Making a customer excited to use your product is relatively easy to achieve, with all of the marketing tools that exist today. But setting ambitious expectations will often be disastrous if you can’t meet them. Since it’s easier than ever to access competitors online, customers can quickly find another promising solution to their needs and leave your company in the dust.
This is the importance of delivering an end to end customer experience: a fine line between what a customer expects from your company and the actual experience they received throughout the customer journey, with all its ups and downs. Understanding how to influence your customers’ expectations as well as delivering on the overall experience with your product can help retain customers and turn them from one time customers into loyal ambassadors.
Moving customer experience into the future requires a whole new outlook on how we manage CX. While there are many approaches to managing CX, we believe that modern organizations must use the three pillars of customer experience to provide best in class experiences:
Pillar #1: Customer experience must be measured by the customer journey
Pillar #2: Companies must gain a 360 degree view of the customer
Pillar #3: Customer experience analytics must be predictive
Let’s dive deeper into each of the three pillars to see how top brands are consistently delivering on and improving their customer experience.
Measuring Customer Experience across the Customer Journey
In order to manage the customer experience, you need to understand, measure and improve on it. Building a customer journey map provides an understanding of the current customer experience your brand provides and sets the stage for identifying areas for improvement. Since there is no magical moment that defines the whole experience with a brand, brands must look at customer experience as a sum of interactions and understand that customers’ loyalty is a direct result of all of these interactions combined.
In order for the customer journey to have a real impact within your organization, it should include the entirety of the customer’s lifetime, should be applicable to the existing state of the customer experience (don’t include your future aspirations!) and should cover all of the interactions customers have with you, from the first Google ad they clicked to the cancellation request email they sent to support.
This customer journey map must be inter-departmental rather than the responsibility of only one department. The sole purpose of its existence is to explain the 360˚ view of the customer experience and provide insight into existing flow between the departments and possibly even to help identify the bottlenecks that drag the experience down. Because of this, stakeholders from every department should be involved with designing the customer journey map. Even traditionally non-customer facing departments like HR can offer insight into the employee experience.
Gaining a 360 view of the customer
After the customer journey is designed, brands can begin to measure the customer’s experience across each touchpoint. This requires organizations to use surveys and customer data to develop a full picture of how customers are interacting with their brand.
Right now, almost unimaginable amounts of data exist in the world, but very little of it is actually analyzed and applied to find answers to real-life problems. In fact, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty believes that only 20% of the world’s data is currently usable for businesses. Why is so much of our valuable data unusable? Well, almost every team in a company has a separate set of data being monitored. Think about it:
development is tracking website visits and server logs,
marketing is tracking ad views and leads and,
service teams are tracking questions and customer satisfaction.
Rarely, if ever, does this dataset get shared across departments. Even if each department was aware of the data available to them, the data is frequently unsorted or siloed in several different systems.
In order to design a well-executed customer experience, companies need to unlock the power contained in all of this existing data. A modern customer experience platform with open APIs and integrations can help bring all of the data together.
Finally, access to existing data also helps minimize the pressure on customers from surveys. Rather than asking customers for identical information on multiple surveys sent from different teams who need to know the same information, a connected customer experience platform will surface relevant data. Providing teams with open and free access to accumulated data mean every decision is data-driven, is based on real customer information and considers possible impact on other teams as well.
Using Predictive Analytics
Building an accurate customer journey map and continually measuring the customer experience is not enough — in a fast-paced world, it’s equally as important to act on opportunities and potential issues as soon as possible. The best way to do so is to proactively analyze the key drivers of the customer experience. A well designed customer journey map and steady feedback stream will provide many data points on potential changes that may improve the customers’ experience, but identifying which changes can influence long-term success is what really matters in the end.
Of course, people can build systems and identify patterns to predict the best actions, but the human brain is biased, however hard we can try to deny it or overcome it. Since investments into the customer experience can be expensive and time consuming, it makes sense to invest in predictive analysis, to make better decisions, earlier on in the process.
Machine learning is also able to move predictive beyond simple regression analysis using structural path analysis. Because human experiences are interconnected, and loyalty is a result of multiple aspects of the experience, simple correlation isn’t always accurate enough. For example, in a bank, is teller friendliness more important than the speed of service? What about how accurate their help and advice is? Deciding which of these aspects to focus improvements on isn’t as simple as direct correlation analysis. True predictive platforms are able determine the key drivers of customer engagement leading to more accurate ROI predictions.
Another advantage of outsourcing analysis to an algorithm is speed – while humans can take days and even weeks to work through an array of information, using a platform like CloudCherry means that the company can react to an upcoming change in a matter of hours or even minutes. This is critical in today’s connected world when a potential issue could go viral before your brand even starts to look into it. This also means that people who need access to data to make an educated decision do not have to wait while it goes through several loops of analysis and can do their job quicker and more efficiently too. In the end, it all adds up to providing customers with the ultimate customer experience.
Bringing the three pillars together on a Customer Experience Management Platform
Both setting realistic expectations and delivering on them is the cornerstone of creating the ultimate customer experience. To execute this experience you need to understand the reality of your customer’s lifetime, which can only be achieved through creating a customer journey map. Connecting cross-departmental data and systems for your team based on the journey map will then help them understand how exactly they can influence customer experience. And finally, by using predictive analysis you can start to not only react to the existing issues and problem areas but also predict and address them before your customers even notice that something was wrong. Applying all three of the pillars to customer experience management in a unified way is a sure way to long term growth and progress of your brand.Download the full Three Pillars of CX e-book