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Feb 18, 2022
Ready to invest in the customer experience?
After all, your customers have the answers—and they’ll tell you the truth if you ask the right questions and take the right actions.
But making an investment is one thing—making sure it pays off is another. Whether you’re launching your first customer experience management (CEM) program or hitting refresh, when you partner with the right CEM provider, you can transition almost seamlessly into a program that engages all levels of your organization—from the field teams to the c-suite. And suddenly, those challenges start to transform into opportunities for your customer experience program to gain traction and drive real change.
But choosing the right experience management partner (or evaluating your current experience program) can be overwhelming. To help guide your vetting efforts, we’ve created a detailed list containing the ins and outs of a successful customer experience management strategy.
Reference these FAQs to answer “What is customer experience management” and create a program that works best for you and your internal stakeholders—ultimately driving closer, more valuable relationships with your customers.
Gartner® defines customer experience management as “the discipline of understanding customers and deploying strategic plans that enable cross-functional efforts and customer-centric culture to improve satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.”
When this discipline is put into action, brands have access to actionable customer data that drives business performance at the location and brand level. But when it comes to selecting a customer experience partner, remember a technology platform only gets you part of the way there. The addition of partnership, service, and operator support gets you all the way there.
This collaborative approach will help you overcome common program pitfalls, including:
Ultimately, your goal is to build an experience management program that delivers maximum business impact. To achieve this program maturity, your XM partner should work with you to create a phased approach with tactical prioritization dedicated to the continual advancement of your program.
At the end of the day, experience management programs are successful when they’re easily interpreted, inspire action, and lead to meaningful outcomes that link to financials.
The most obvious business outcome is higher comp sales. For locations and channels to drive sales growth, they first need to improve on key drivers, which leads to improvements in Overall Satisfaction/NPS and links to increased loyalty and sales growth.
But ROI doesn’t end at comp sales. There are all kinds of ways to prove the changes you’re making are having an impact, such as lower employee turnover, shorter return cycles, and higher social ratings.
Data isn’t enough, and companies can’t win loyalty by simply measuring the customer experience. To really make an impact, they have to connect customer experience data to meaningful action by uncovering true insight—because that’s what leads to business outcomes.
To help you evaluate your current experience management strategy and ensure it’s delivering insights (and not just collecting data), here are some key functions of an insights-driven XM program:
Collect feedback across touchpoints | To get a holistic view of the customer experience, you need an enterprise measurement strategy that collects location-level feedback across the entire customer journey. By analyzing both solicited and unsolicited data—across all touchpoints—you can truly understand the full scope of how customers interact with your brand and create an action plan focused on making targeted improvements.
Provide an intuitive technology platform | Great data doesn’t matter if it doesn’t make sense. Without a clear way to spot trends, compare scores, and read comments, it can feel impossible to take action. With a customer experience management platform that streamlines real-time data and provides easy-to-read visualizations, you’ll have access to tools like role-based reporting, customizable dashboards, industry benchmarks, and AI-native text analytics. By getting the data you need, when and how you need it, you can really understand what consumers are trying to tell you—making it easier to drive meaningful change across your organization.
Offer professional support | A robust and intuitive reporting platform is a vital component of your experience management program, but technology alone will only get you so far. In order to turn mountains of data into actionable insights, you’ll want a dedicated professional services team that provides analysis support, insight delivery, and ongoing strategic partnership. A collaborative tech and professional services approach is most successful in producing measurable results that boost loyalty and drive business performance.
Demonstrate ROI | It’s tough to justify the value of an experience management program when it doesn’t improve business outcomes. You need a provider that surfaces actionable insights and produces tangible results—helping you map CX improvements to cross-functional gains so you can prove the program is worth the effort.
A best-in-class experience management program has to deliver cutting-edge technology and world-class insights—but technology and insights will have diminished impact if field teams aren’t using the program to drive action. The truth is, the success of any experience management program depends largely on your field teams:
That’s why it’s so critical to choose an experience management partner with a proven track record of keeping the field engaged and schedule regular program checkups once your strategy is in place. Because left unaddressed, a disengaged field can lead to more serious conditions detrimental to your brand’s long-term health—including decreased customer loyalty, loss of competitive visit share, and eventually lower comp sales.
Here are some ways to keep field teams engaged:
Break down company walls to maximize engagement | When programs get siloed, engagement gets stifled. Make sure your program has visibility in every department, at every level. Some best practices include:
Pair CX data with familiar metrics to showcase accuracy + impact | Don’t let your program live in the abstract. Measure and communicate the ways it impacts your most tangible business metrics. Here are some ways to create and track objective impact:
Tailor CX reporting tools to specific roles | When it comes to the customer experience, there are no small roles—focus on getting everyone on board and in tune with your strategy. To explain how the CX program fits into the organization’s overarching strategy, use things like:
Get an actionable sample to guide your focus | To keep the needle moving, you have to keep the data coming. Do everything you can to turn up the volume on customer feedback. To ensure each location is getting a sufficient sample:
Use multiple forums to share + message consistently | When you’re charting a path to improvement, you can’t afford to be all over the map. Be selective and communicate with purpose. To make sure you’re getting the right information to the right people:
Keep the program front + center at every location | A CX program that falls off the radar is at risk of falling off the rails. Keep your unit-level insights and action plans top-of-mind at every location. Start initiatives like:
Recognize employees for their achievements | When you’re trying to keep employees engaged, don’t just reward them—create a workplace that makes work rewarding. There are several ways you can track and celebrate program wins, including:
Field engagement can be a tricky thing to address, partly because it’s so hard to quantify. But it’s a critical discussion every customer experience program needs to have regularly and proactively. Chances are, by the time you’ve diagnosed it as a problem, it’s already become a widespread issue.
The best thing you can do to spark and sustain engagement is choose an experience management partner that knows how to get the right information to the right people at the right time.
Success (and survival) rely on being future-focused; history tells us it’s simply not enough to maintain. Brands must steadily seek ways to attract more customers, open more channels, and offer better products and services.
It’s about uncovering new ways of doing business that open new streams of revenue. Consumer feedback makes it possible—providing necessary perspective on what works, what doesn’t, and what you must do to move your brand forward.
By investing in the customer experience, you’ve already made one good choice—so why stop there?
Since 1991, SMG has helped hundreds of the world’s top brands launch customer experience programs that continue to drive their business in the right direction.
Sure, it takes focus and effort—there are a lot of best practices to consider and pitfalls to avoid. But when you partner with a company that’s been there before—with hundreds of brands facing unique challenges—you can rest assured the work is worth it.
Need more convincing? Read the ebook, How to prove the business impact of your CX program, for ways to build and sustain an ROI-generating customer experience management strategy.