The new proactive customer experience management (CXM) of the future and how you can prepare for it now.

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Meet the 2018 consumer. She owns both a smart refrigerator and storage system, which can prepare a weekly purchase list. The retailer where she shops has an inventory system that syncs with and aggregates such purchase lists, and kicks in an automatic replenishment process to be sure low or sold-out stock is available when she and others arrive at the store. Advanced analytics create and push a list of suggested items along with coupons.

Once in the store, an optimized visual route on her smart phone helps her to pick up the items on her list. She can purchase items through a “floating cash register,” an intelligent billing system that converts every aisle into a smart cash register.

This, in short, is the next generation of CXM for which enterprises need to prepare -- an experience that cohesively integrates consumers, retailers and their suppliers.

Enterprises today are struggling to keep up with the various ways consumers are accessing their products and services, through both physical and digital channels. Often, CXM, remains siloed within the organization, usually in marketing and customer service. And, it is often still reactive -- dealing with problems presented to them instead of identifying progressive, comprehensive and meaningful strategies that create a positive experience.

By 2018, however, the next generation CXM will be proactive and engage the entire organization. It will strive to understand what customers are thinking, and provide a consistent brand experience in all available channels. In fact, CXM in the future is all about “channel independence.” Customers will be able to use the channel of their choice to interact with the brand and enjoy a richness of experience.

The Evolution of CXM

CXM adoption has been ad hoc and siloed, usually on a single channel focusing on product-based interactions and transactions with customers. Only recently has it evolved to incorporate multiple channels and mature from being merely transactional to being more informative and interactive. But it’s still lacking. Many organizations have not yet truly transformed their customer experience.

The next generation CXM will put customers first to drive customer satisfaction and loyalty. It will engage them proactively before the product or service is purchased, and long afterward, to understand what they are thinking and create market-relevant products and services. This will be done through a highly matured, closed-loop system that provides engagement, management, enablement, and measurement of the delivered CX.

CXM of the Future

We see four trends that global enterprises are grappling with and how digital advances will affect the next generation of CXM.

The first is engaging the customer proactively. Enterprises want to move closer to the customer with interactions that occur before the product or service is consumed. Future CXM will make that engagement event-driven and pull from every aspect of the organization, including those not traditionally directly linked to customer care.

The second trend is context-aware customer interactions using geo-location intelligence built into devices to provide customer value. How could this evolve in the future? Instead of an enterprise partnering with a specific app or adopting a specific solution, future CXM solutions could call for a more sustained interaction with context-aware solutions within every customer interaction.

The third trend is immersive interactions, in which users gain more control over how content is delivered, whether through touch, gesture, 3D visualization, voice-enabled biometric, or something not yet invented. In the next five years we expect immersive interactions to be incorporated in home entertainment devices like smart TV and gaming, in-vehicle devices, and increasingly smart mobile devices—all of which are always connected and creating a challenging “Internet of things”.

Finally, there is the multi-channel of the future. Today, even as new channels have emerged or even replaced traditional points of sale, customer interactions still remain siloed. By 2018, multi-channel for enterprises will transition to an omni-channel experience, meaning that customers can browse through product information on any medium while conversing with friends on social media, and then order the product through any device.

Preparing for CXM 2018 Now

By the next five years, we envision a repeatable CXM maturity model that implies that an enterprise has completely synchronized CXM and IT strategies with an integrated, institutionalized roadmap -- all supported by a fully integrated training and communication plan.

The key to reaching this repeatable stage is to pursue a comprehensive CXM strategy across the enterprise, not one for every channel. That means enterprises must:

  • Create original, innovative products and services
  • Ensure integration across all stakeholders
  • Change business models beyond silo solutions to enhance customer experience
  • Invest in digital technologies and solutions that integrate digital marketing, operations, and digital commerce

Essentially this approach creates a customer-centric organization that facilitates the ability to repeat and institutionalize CXM success.

Here are some questions you should be asking now, as you get ready to start:

  1. Are we losing business to competitors because they deliver a better customer experience?
  2. Are we listening to our customers enough? Are our CMO and CIO synergized to work together to deliver a better customer experience?
  3. Are we able to engage customers in their “channels of choice” and deliver omni-channel experience?
  4. Do we have the right data, technology, tools, and vendors to get the actionable insights on our customers?
  5. Are we leveraging digital media effectively? How are they integrated into the rest of the enterprise?

Today’s customers are digitally savvy and have greater expectations for what technology can provide when it comes to interacting with companies. Companies already are recognizing that digitally savvy customers have the potential to become influencers in their own social media circles, impacting brand perceptions.

There has never been a time when there has been more pressure on enterprises to create a consistently positive and cohesive customer experience. A progressive, integrated CXM strategy alone will provide enterprises with the ability to create a repeatable customer experience that can be adapted to inevitable digital evolutions in the future.

Image courtesy of nopporn (Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: Be sure to check out Mike Romano's Four Tips for Getting Your Mobile Marketing Initiatives off the Ground