The rate of consumer technology development is growing every day.
In a recent study, Australia was found to have the fifth highest level of internet penetration in the world. One clear example of this internet obsession is the rise of blogging and online reviews.
Whether looking for electronics, a restaurant or even a new style of running shoes — the internet has delivered plenty of opportunities for potential customers to learn about products and more importantly the services provided by the brands. Social media, blogs and forums are now all viable avenues for consumers to voice concerns, complaints and compliments about brands in the public arena, which could be consequently devastating for a business.
As consumers become more and more vocal, brands have realised that the basics of CRM are no longer enough to satisfy this new age of consumers and thus Customer Experience Management is born.
The foundation of Customer Experience Management is Customer Expectation Management. Customers have a perception of the promises you as a business make to them that forms their expectations of the product or service they will receive from you. Customer Expectation Management involves attempting to control the formation of these expectations as well as the reactions when they are met, over-delivered or under-delivered upon.
There are two elements of customer expectations: that which is controlled by you e.g. brand management, PR, marketing, corporate messaging, etc.), and that which is controlled by external factors such as reputation, media, competitors, industry, social change, government regulation and more.
The reality is that unfortunately the external elements contributing to customer expectations are far more significant and dynamic than those you can manipulate.
While controlling the external elements of customer expectations is out of reach, we can aim to influence it. By putting in place customer-service strategies and goals, we can strive to consistently meet and over-deliver on customer expectations, and if we fail to deliver, have the means to address the issue promptly and efficiently to change the tide.
Despite being an essential element of your business strategy, Customer Experience Management still is a relatively new concept. This, coupled with the fact that every company – from multinational telcos to your local fashion retailer – is completely unique, means that quite often people do not know where to start with CEM strategy.
Read on to find a condensed version of Cincom's in-depth analysis and review: Your Customer Experience Management Handbook; Eight Steps to Constructing the Strategy that Will Turn Customers into Brand Advocates — available here.
The following steps are a practical and realistic guide to achieving a tailored and agile CEM strategy.
There is no "one-size-fits-all" way to identify what a customer wants, let alone expects. Each individual customer is different, and the stage at which a customer is within the consumer life cycle will also substantially influence their expectations.
As mentioned earlier, customers' expectations are influenced by a number of dynamic external factors as well as their own consumer lifecycle; it is therefore important to regularly re-assess these expectations. Using surveys, customer feedback and even social media are great ways to keep your finger on the pulse and anticipate potential changes and shifts in expectations.
The good, the bad and the ugly
In addition to analysing your customer base, it is also important to take a look at yourself. Canvas existing customers and find out what your company excels at as well as the areas where you fall short on the expectations of your predetermined (number-one) customer segments. Take a walk in their shoes; go through the same processes, and experience firsthand what your customers' experience.
As previously mentioned, delighting every customer and meeting each and every one of their expectations is impossible. Through your analysis, you will be able to identify the profile of a "profitable customer" or segment. Then, prioritise the improvements focusing your attention on what is most important to your business now as well as in the future. For example, you may choose to target different areas based on whether or not your business is focusing on customer acquisition or customer retention.
As mentioned, further detail into the discussed points along with the remaining steps can be found in our whitepaper, available for download here.
Employing the tools you have identified in the eight steps that are relevant to your business, you should be able to make a start on drafting the CEM strategy that is going to convert your customers into loyal brand advocates.