As competition for buyers’ attention continues to increase, customer experience management (CXM) will be essential to deliver a single customer journey from bricks and mortar stores to online engagement and sales.

What is Customer Experience Management (CXM)?

Gartner defines customer experience management as ‘the practice of designing and reacting to customer interactions to meet or exceed their expectations, leading to greater customer satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy’.

CXM sees the customer’s whole journey as a single experience. It involves managing customer relationships with your brand and all the different channels you use.

At the heart of a well-managed customer experience (CX) is the knowledge that every interaction matters, from their first online discovery or social media engagement through to their buying experience and your post-sales service.

Why is CXM so important?

57% of online shoppers say they’ve stopped buying from a merchant because of a bad experience, or because a competitor offered a better one.

According to the business magazine, Forbes, customer-centric brands are growing much faster than others.

Customer retention and customer loyalty - an exceptional experience is a differentiating factor that creates brand loyalty and reduces customer churn.  Businesses that focus on CMX are gaining a significant competitive advantage.

CMX can have a real impact on performance because your sales rate with existing customers will be around 60%, compared to between 5% and 20% with new customers.

Higher lifetime value – making CXM a strategic priority can help your business to achieve much higher lifetime value (LTV) because loyal customers spend 67% more, on average than new customers.

Building your reputation - word of mouth is one of the best ways to reach new customers. Today’s shoppers are warier than ever of marketing messages or paid advertisements. But 81% say they trust personal recommendations from friends and family, so CMX also makes sure your good news travels far and wide.

How to deliver outstanding customer experience

The customer experience isn’t limited to your ecommerce website. You will need to include every touchpoint with your customers, from their search results or in-store experiences to checkout, communications about shipping and delivery, and aftersales service. Most importantly, they all need to be seen as a single brand journey rather than individual steps.

Customer information - understanding and anticipating your customer’s needs is essential. The information they provide to you every time they make a purchase is a valuable resource. Once, it might have been difficult to turn all of that data into useful intelligence, but with machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) you can automate processes that will deliver valuable analytics and dynamic personalization.

With powerful integration you can track customer preferences across channels, monitor their behaviour and obtain feedback at key points in their journey. Behavioural targeting is a powerful personalization approach, but many businesses only do basic things like sending an automated email if a shopping cart is abandoned. There are tools available to deliver data-driven behavioural segmentation that will create a much more personalized customer experience. Eight out of 10 customers feel more positively about a brand if they feel their experience is personalized.

Discovery – the beginning of every outstanding experience is simplicity. Your customers must be able to find what they’re looking for quickly and easily. Your search engine optimization (SEO) will start the process, making sure they reach your homepage as soon as possible.

Then product categorization and filtering must be intuitive and fast. To effectively categorize your products for your audience you have to know how they shop for the products you offer. You also need to give them the flexibility to explore your whole catalog, depending on their intentions.

Once a customer chooses a category to explore, product filtering or ‘faceted search’ using attributes like brand, price, color and size will help them to find exactly what they are looking for.

Making this process feel really simple is probably one of the biggest challenges most businesses face. However, using what you discover about the things people are looking for can help to improve product development and your product management strategy.

Product information – getting the right balance between enough and too much information is essential. A thorough description of each product will help customers to make an informed decision. Add customer-focussed descriptions of benefits, based on real examples, and you will give your customers confidence that your product meets their needs.

Feedback - product reviews can be an influential part of the buying process. Your customers will need product details, but they will want to see reviews from real buyers like themselves, who give their honest opinions. Integrate social proof of the benefits of your products throughout your customer’s journey to and will encourage them to make their decision to buy.

Mobile devices – with mobile devices being used for more research and buying than ever before, you must prioritize a positive user experience on smartphones and tablets. Responsive website design that adjusts automatically to the size of the user’s screen will make sure your customers’ mobile experience is as effective as on their desktop.

Checkout – abandoned carts are missed sales opportunities. Delivering streamlined checkout experiences, ideally on a single page, will reduce friction and increase customer loyalty.

More than half of customers say that filling out the same information more than once is the most frustrating part of the whole checkout process. Giving them the option to create an account means that payment and shipping preferences can be pre-populated based on their previous purchases. This can make the process simpler, reducing the number of clicks or taps needed, improving conversion rates, and encouraging return visits.

Delivery – customers in 2020 won’t want to wait for several days for their purchases to arrive and same-day delivery is becoming an expectation. Attention to detail is important and unsuitable or damaged packaging isn’t acceptable. In contrast, a beautifully packed order will make an immediate positive impression and help to build a relationship with your customer. The most successful businesses are using shipping as a strategic tool to differentiate themselves from their competitors and to increase margins.

After sales support - prompt and effective customer service and support is one of the best ways to improve customer experience. Answering queries quickly and reliably is expected and handling complaints effectively can create loyal customers and brand ambassadors.

To provide excellent customer support, you need to be aware of every touch point you have with your customers from social media engagement to emails, on-site chatbots and in-store visits. Giving the members of your customer service team the tools to see this information in real time will allow them to engage with your customers and build stronger brand relationships.

Measuring customer experience

It’s important to understand what works well and where there are ‘pain points’ for your customers, so measurement and review must be part of your overall CXM strategy.

These can range from customer satisfaction surveys for specific products or services through to in-depth reviews of customer support, shipping, delivery, or product quality. You can ask how many of your customers would recommend your business to others (net promoter score) as a strong indication of satisfaction. You can also measure information that you have captured throughout your customer’s journey, including loyalty, retention, churn, purchase frequency, average order value, and purchase return rates.

Whatever you include in your measurement matrix it’s important that the data you use is accurate, up to date and actionable, so the starting point must be your key performance indicators for CXM.

We think that our recent project with La Coqueta, a leading designer fashion brand and boutique for babies, toddlers and children, is an excellent example. They have used CXM to drive growth by creating exceptional customer journeys with automation and efficiency built-in at every stage.

If you would like to know more about this and our other highly customer-focused projects, please get in touch.