Getting to the Center of Customer Experience

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Think of the last time you had dinner at a four-star restaurant. Was the food well-presented, the wine pairings appropriate and the dessert tray enticing? Did you receive professional and attentive service? Was the ambience elegant, pleasant and soothing? And -- most importantly -- would you go back?

Your customers ask themselves the same sorts of questions after using your website or app, and your CMS -- how you manage and deliver content to your customer -- lays at the heart of their experience. It should be the core of your customer experience management (CXM) strategy. By placing the CMS in the keystone position, you can assemble information from multiple back office and third party sources to deliver compelling customer experiences across devices and platforms. And that's the whole game, right there. 

Still not convinced? Here are five ways your web CMS can enhance your customer experience.

1. Deliver an Omnichannel Experience

More than one-third of Americans now own a tablet, yet 70 percent of marketers find it challenging to deliver an optimal experience on mobile devices. Web CMSs that "speak multichannel" give you an immediate advantage, by letting you reuse, adapt, optimize and push your existing desktop website content to other devices and platforms. This delivers consistency in how your customers' experience your brand, regardless of how they find you.

High flexibility and full control are the hallmarks of a true multichannel CMS -- so why stop there? In the future, you might want to adapt your content for use on your customers' Internet-connected refrigerators and smartwatches. A multichannel CMS can get you there, quicker and with less effort.

2. Integrate with Marketing Automation and Social Tools

More than 70 percent of social media users are more likely to purchase from brands they follow online, yet nearly one-third of marketers rate their CMS "poor" at integrating with other digital platforms and technologies. That's a big gap, and it's usually caused by CMSs that use closed or proprietary technology that's hard to modify or extend to new platforms.

When your web CMS is fundamentally open and agile, you're in a better position to create integrated, end-to-end customer experiences across all touchpoints. Your CMS now becomes your CXM engine, receiving and delivering information to (and from) multiple tools and services -- marketing automation tools, social media, back-office services and databases, e-commerce and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems -- to create a consistent and relevant experience.

3. Get Content to Customers Faster

What keeps customers coming back to your website? Your content, and how well it speaks to their needs. That content is created by your editorial and authoring staff. And the easier it is for them to work without obstacles, the shorter your time to market for new content-driven initiatives. Forty-three percent of companies reported ease of use as the most important criteria when choosing a web CMS.

Your CMS has an important role to play here, by being intuitive enough for non-technical staff to use without prior knowledge of HTML, CSS or JavaScript. And when your staff is mobile -- for example, in news publishing or sales organizations -- and content creation takes place in the field, a CMS that supports tablet-based authoring can help you get content in front of eyeballs faster.

4. Personalize Content Based on Profiles and Behavior

A Harris Interactive study found that nearly 75 percent of online consumers get frustrated when they see website content that is unconnected with their interests. If your web CMS supports content personalization, it can help you turn those frustrated users into engaged, loyal customers, by adapting content to reflect their needs and behavior. Personalized content has been shown to raise conversions by up to 300 percent, so there's really no excuse to not do it!

When it comes to personalization, you have a choice of strategies. Explicit personalization is based on traits that visitors declare and choose themselves, while implicit personalization is based on tracking user behavior as they navigate a website. Ideally, your CMS should let you mix both approaches to maximize success.

5. Enable Fast, Smooth Browsing

When it comes to website performance, here's a handy rule of thumb: if your website takes more than 3 seconds to load, you're going to lose a large chunk of your audience. Tablet users are perhaps the most impatient: 60 percent of them expect pages to load in less than three seconds. Simply put, the faster and smoother your customer's experience of your digital content -- whether on a tablet, a smartphone or a PC -- he more likely they are to engage with your brand again.

Your CMS is, of course, only part of the puzzle here -- performance also depends on server hardware and network infrastructure. But if your CMS is engineered to run efficiently on commodity hardware and take advantage of cloud server scalability, load balancing and multi-core CPUs, it can't hurt.

To sum up, when it comes to executing a CXM strategy, juggling multiple tools and platforms can suck up time and resources and produce a fragmented result. Ideally, you want one tool, one knob to turn that raises your customer experience above the ordinary, and your CMS can be perfectly positioned to be just that tool.​

Title image by Finn Frode (Flickr) via a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license