A Blueprint for Laying the Foundation of Customer Experience Management
By Jayajyoti Sengupta, Vice President and Head of APAC, Cognizant
By 2030, Asia will represent 66% of the global middle-class population. The ascent of the region’s emerging middle class, the rise of the millennials and their expectations, and the advent of social media have introduced new levels of information access and avenues of expression.
With the traditional pyramid-shaped social structures becoming more diamond-shaped, an era of fraying customer loyalty and tightening competition is gradually emerging. More than ever before, customer experience management (CEM) is playing an increasingly important role in business growth. Companies need a well-defined CEM strategy to boost revenue and competitiveness.
A recent survey by Gartner revealed that organizations are changing their customer experience priorities. The findings also underline the fact that customer experience improvements are complex undertakings. Not one, but a combination of projects, if implemented well, can cumulatively contribute to the improvement of an organization’s customer experiences.
How does CEM come into play? For a start, CEM enables strategic management of various customer touch-points by providing what the customers want, when they want, where and how they want it. It should come as no surprise that customer experience can have significant impact on revenues. An emotionally connected consumer is more likely to stick with the company for extended periods of time, thereby increasing customer lifetime value and revenues. In the same regard, a satisfied and connected customer is more inclined to recommend the company to others. The two reasons alone are compelling enough to encourage companies to invest resources and energy into developing and implementing a comprehensive CEM program—one that is profitable and sustainable.
What makes an effective CEM strategy? Here are five main focus areas to take into consideration when developing the blueprint of a comprehensive CEM strategy.
- Process management
A well-defined process forms the backbone of a successful company and also ensures a consistent experience for customers, regardless of channel. Companies need to allocate a sufficient budget and appoint a CEM manager. His or her role should be to oversee all relevant departments in the continuous planning and monitoring of CEM activities across the company. These activities should be supported by an easily navigable and flexible buying cycle process that can ensure satisfaction for even the most demanding customer. Furthermore, with mobile, social media and online shopping gaining traction, it is imperative that the process allows personalization of experiences, such as choice of channels, time of interaction, and mode of payment.
- Stakeholder management
Managing key stakeholders—organization, employees and partners—is crucial to implementing a successful CEM strategy. Firstly, organizational management is an essential element in all major business decisions—from designing to managing the organizational structure—and will contribute significantly towards enabling a company-wide CEM initiative.
Secondly, measures such as recognizing the essential skills required for customer-facing employees, identifying and imparting the fundamental training, as well as instilling in employees the authority to make decisions when interacting with customers, empower employees to adjust the customer experience to specific needs and expectations. Thirdly, organizations should also gauge the CEM adoption level of potential partners before sealing the deal. This can set the stage for an exchange of best practices, resulting in a consistent experience at every customer touch-point across the partner ecosystem.
- Information management
To deliver an exceptional customer experience, companies need to cultivate a product data repository containing specifications, performance details, and usage instructions. A comparative analysis consisting detailed information of competitors’ products should also be captured and together, this provides insights into customer sentiment, behavior and spending levels. Concurrently, the repository also acts as the voice of the customer, allowing the manufacturer to progressively refine and calibrate the entire CEM process.
- Communications management
Successful CEM initiatives often hinge on the manufacturer’s ability to manage and control its communication with employee, partners and customers. While traditional media such as TV, newspaper and helplines remain salient, modern channels—social media, mobile, blogs and review sites—need to be actively and consistently managed to ensure all touch-points maintain a consistent customer experience throughout.
By carefully monitoring and making meaning from customer Code Halos—the digital data that surrounds people, processes, organizations and devices—companies can develop communication relevant to the customer. With the use of modern site traffic, social media content, and behavioral web analytics, companies can further gain a better sense of their customers’ needs to deliver what they want even before they ask for it.
- Performance management
Employee metrics such as performance management and recognition for exceptional performance in the customer experience domain should be used as a source of motivation for employees. In addition, companies can track customer metrics through customer satisfaction surveys, customer loyalty programs and sentiment analysis. Likewise, companies can obtain an accurate overview of the performance of CEM programs across the company using CEM process metrics to measure the impact of the programs on revenues, consistency of experience across channels and success in predicting future trends.
The CEM maturity of an organization is about the extent and discipline of that organization’s involvement in driving and executing practices required to design, implement, and manage customer experience. By fine-tuning internal operations and integrating robust analytics tools to improve their customer satisfaction scores, organizations can ascend the CEM maturity ladder. Armed with a deeper understanding of key CEM drivers and adoption of CEM best practices, companies can truly transform customer experience, and positively influence customer satisfaction and revenue simultaneously
 OEDC Observer, An emerging middle class
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