In the age of social and mobile customers, all paths lead back to your website.
I recently took part in CMSWire’s tweet jam about the current trends in Customer Experience Management or CXM as the industry have now labelled it. The debate centered around several key points:
- How online versus offline customer experience is blurring.
- How do customers interact with services (e.g. booking collections, making payments etc).
- How can businesses understand these interactions and improve online customer experience.
When looking at service delivery online, there are several actions that a business can take to understand and improve the customer experience. The goal of many service heads is simple: “get the citizens to interact online, it's cheaper for us!”
Blindly pushing people to your website is not of itself going to make for good customer experience. Whilst encouraging customers to visit your website is a valuable exercise, customers still need to be engaged in the channel of their choice.
One example that currently highlights poor customer experience is Pizza Hut’s twitter account. Ever had a Pizza Hut pizza that did not live up to your expectations and then complained on twitter? Hundreds have. Unfortunately the company's responses, whilst polite, courteous and timely, are all handled by its main corporate account, and badly in my opinion.
Its twitter account has a constant stream of apologies for food, service and a host of other issues that customers have complained about. You would expect that an organization would respond to all complaints, but if you are getting that many, it would be worth managing them differently. Perhaps a more constructive approach would be to have a dedicated response account, having lots of other positive content to distribute the complaints more effectively or just addressing their customer service issues at source. If they chose a separate account, corporate messages can stay on the corporate account with complaints being handled by another account.
BT does this with its BTCare twitter stream, although even here caution is need when managing reputation, as there is also a parody BTFail twitter account. These examples illustrate why service heads need to manage their teams to deliver excellent customer experiences. Let’s take a deeper look at what customer experience means.
Where Does Customer Experience Count?
Customer experience is channel agnostic. In other words customers engage with a business in a variety of ways such as face-to-face, by phone and online -- be it on a business website, social media or a mobile device. For ordering a pizza there are likely to be several channels involved, for example you might order online and have the order delivered to your door. But for many businesses, customers are directed to the online channel. For online engagement, customer experience is about detailing what customers do after they find your website and service. And for this there are a variety of tools to help them manage the customer experience.
Improving Customer Experience Management: Taking Ownership
One of the challenges facing organizations who want to improve customer experience is understanding the ownership within the organization. Ownership can be broken down into two areas: those who own the strategy and those who own the tools to deliver the strategy. I believe that the customer experience needs to be embedded into the company culture and run from the top.
So if customers are being driven to digital channels, how do CEOs improve the digital customer experience? Using the latest web analytics tools to monitor web activity, including social media, mobile web, e-Marketing, e-Commerce, online customer service, etc. will enable an organization to build a better picture of what is happening. If you cannot measure it, how do you improve it? With an understanding of what is happening, businesses will be in a position to deliver excellent customer experience which will lead to long term profitability and ROI.
Customer Experience Management in 2012
Customer loyalty is diluted by channel proliferation. A unifying channel strategy (websites, mobile, social media, etc.) can address this, ensure consistency and earn individual’s trust by delivering personalized content. Customer Experience Management (CXM) programs need to be implemented throughout the organization and driven from the top level.
For online engagement, customer experience is about detailing what customers do after they find your website and services. Finally weaving analytics and real-time monitoring into every channel and surfacing the resulting metrics to every part of the business will help ensure that customers experience the same levels of service regardless of the channel they use and increase the likelihood of them to repeatedly buy and recommend.
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