Before we jump into another exciting customer service topic, let's take a second to think about the best customer experience you've ever had. Go ahead, I'll wait here.
If you have one in mind, think about the different things that the company did to make your experience delightful. Maybe it was the friendly staff, the efficient service, or that the brand went above and beyond for your case. Or, maybe all of those elements combined perfectly to create the wonderful experience that you had.
Now, as a business owner, wouldn't you want to replicate that experience for every customer interaction?
Customer experience management is designed to do just that. It focuses on the factors that contribute to a positive experience and looks to make that consistent for every customer. By doing so, your company will generate delightful customer experiences and improve brand loyalty.
In this post, let's review customer experience management, including what it is and why it's important to your business. Then, we'll conclude by listing a few useful tools you can adopt to optimize the customer experience at your company.
What Is Customer Experience Management?
Customer experience management oversees customer interactions. It plans how a company will initiate or react to engagement at different points in the customer's journey. The goal of this effort is to increase customer satisfaction and drive brand loyalty.
Customer experience management begins with outlining the customer's journey. A customer journey map highlights the different interactions customers have with your business throughout their lifetime. Mapping this journey helps your team identify key touchpoints where you can significantly influence the customer experience.
Now, if you're thinking, "My product is unmatched by my competitors. Why do I need this?" Then, you may want to read on to the next section. It discusses why customer experience management may be the x-factor that'll make your business stand out.
Why Is Customer Experience Management Important?
Customer experience management is important because it keeps customers happy before, during, and after a purchase. This helps your team close deals and prevent customers from churning quickly after buying a product.
In fact, research shows that 94% of marketers agree that engagement and conversion rates are higher when a business invests in customer experience management. And, 96% of marketers agree that customer experience optimization is either critical or somewhat important to the success of a business. That's because these experts have found that it's no longer good enough to make a great product, you need to generate a complete, delightful experience to retain a customer.
Additionally, Forrester's Customer Experience Index, which measures companies with the best customer experiences, found that the top 20% featured on this list had higher stock growth and total returns than the bottom 20%. This means that businesses that successfully optimize the customer experience are also some of the fastest-growing ones as well.
Now that we've covered the baseline of customer experience management, let's review how it differs online.
Online Customer Experience Management
Online, or digital, customer experience management refers to interactions you have with customers on your website or app. If you're a SaaS business, this is the type of engagement you'll encounter most with your customer base. You may not be able to physically see them, but providing the same level of high-quality, personalized service is vital to their experience.
Even if your company isn't SaaS, your customers' online experience is still important. Studies show that 65% of customers believe that their perception of your website or mobile app is "very important" in their decision to recommend your brand. So, even if you're not operating your entire company online, the look, feel, and experience of your website still plays a major role in acquiring new customers.
One software that's often overlooked in this category is mobile applications. 82% of customers turn to a mobile device when they need help making a purchase, but most brands either don't have a mobile app, or they don't invest in it. This means more work for the customer to find the information they're looking for. Rather than treating mobile as a secondary benefit, your team should be looking at this channel as an asset that'll continue to gain traction over time.
For more tools that can help your team optimize customer experience, read on to the section below.
Customer Experience Management Tools
It's clear that customer experience management is important to your business, but getting started isn't always as straightforward. Fortunately, we put together this list of tools that can help your team optimize your customer experience.
CRMs are excellent tools for customer experience management. That's because they're databases that store information about individual customers, so your team can reach out with personalize messages and responses. You can use CRMs to record interactions, send reminders about upcoming meetings, and create in-depth records of your customer base.
2. Help Desk
Help desks are software that assists your customer service and success teams. They host an array of service tools that can optimize your customers' experience.
For example, one common feature is automation. Help desks can automate ticket distribution so all incoming service cases are recorded and sent to a rep automatically. This saves your team time and prevents inquiries from slipping through the cracks.
3. Live Chat
For online customer experience management, live chat is a great tool for connecting customers with service representatives. When customers have questions while browsing your site, they can quickly open up a chat and speak with your team. Once they get the information they're looking for, they can return to shopping without having to navigate back to their original page. This removes friction from the customer experience by providing support options that are seamlessly integrated into the webpage.
4. Social Media
Another tool that's key to customer experience management is social media. Social media can be leveraged as a cost-effective communication tool that can reach a large portion of your customer base.
However, how much you invest in social media should be determined by your target audience. For example, research shows that consumers under 25 prefer to use social media to communicate with a business over any other channel. But, less than 2% of consumers over the age of 34 use social media this way. Knowing your audience and their communication preferences are essential to engaging them on a medium that's comfortable and delightful.
5. Ticketing System
Ticketing systems are one of the most fundamental customer experience management tools. They create records, or "tickets," that document customer interaction. Whenever a customer reaches out to your business, a support rep creates a ticket that gets logged in your system. That way, your reps can keep track of open tickets and can refer back to older ones in case they become relevant during a future inquiry.
Now that we've outlined some of the tools you'll want to use, let's look at the top software providers that feature them.
HubSpot's Service Hub includes many of the features we discussed in the section above. It has a help desk that's integrated into the CRM, so you can quickly reference a customer's information while engaging with them. It also has free live chat, which is easily added to your site by installing a tracking code.
Price: Free plan, Free; Starter Plan, $50/month per user; Professional Plan, $400/month per five users; Enterprise Plan, $1,200/month per 10 users
ClickTale is software that analyzes customer behavior. It has tools like heatmaps that assess the elements on your webpage that customers are engaging with the most. It also has an "Experience Center" that provides an overview of the metrics you're currently tracking. This makes it easy to spot trends that are occurring on your site.
Clarabridge is a versatile experience management software that hosts a plethora of useful tools. For example, it has omni-channel analytics so your team can assess interactions that occur both online and in-person. It also includes sentiment analysis features that review customer feedback and determine whether it's positive or negative. This saves your customer service and marketing team time from having to manually sort through qualitative responses.
Medallia centralizes your customer feedback into one accessible location. Then, it uses this information to encourage employees to take action and proactively reach out to customers. So, if a customer reports a negative interaction, the rep is notified and can reach out to resolve the issue. And, that timely follow-up can be the determining factor in preventing customer churn.
If you're looking for software that's specific to online experiences, UserZoom is a viable option. That's because it has features that are designed for user experience (UX) research. This includes user testing, survey creation, and usability tests. Using these collectively should give you an accurate description of how your customers are engaging with your website or app.