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Customer Experience Management: Trends and innovations

In the digital era, customers are better informed and their market awareness is much higher than it was 10, 20 or 30 years ago. While this is positive and brings lot of benefits to our society, it is also challenging for market players to satisfy customer needs. Nowadays customers are more demanding and it is hard to make them happy.

To be able to keep up with changing times and survive in this new digital era, companies are forced to change their strategies and adapt to new “market rules”. Companies are moving from product centric organizations to more customer centric organizations.

How is customer centricity different from product centricity?

What does this mean? What is customer centricity and how is it different from product centricity?

Product centric organizations are focused on how to develop best products, they have product culture and they are constantly looking on how to develop new products. All processes are oriented towards product development and they rely on their internal experiences.

On the other hand, the strategy of customer centric organizations is customer experience; they focus their effort to develop solutions that best fit their customer. They have a customer culture – they search for new customer needs to fulfil, and their processes are customer oriented – customer centric organizations are looking how to manage customer experience.

CEM (Customer Experience Management)

In the past days, TM Forum and Liberty Global colleagues, we were focusing on the topics around customer experience management, trying to understand it in the right way, to identify what is the future of CEM and what are the innovations in the CEM domain – how we can benefit from applying CEM in the right way.

Working for a long time in the Telco sector and dealing with business and IT people, constantly discussing on how to improve “customer experience” and what our CEM strategy should be, in this blog I will try to bring some highlights on how I see CEM, the future of CEM, and trends and innovations in the CEM domain. But before I jump into this I always like to put some introduction and definitions, so let’s put some definition for the customer experience.

At the beginning of this blog I intentionally put a couple of sentences about customer centricity and how it is related to customer experience – customer experience is not the same as customer centricity.

What motivates a company to provide customer experience

Customer experience is what customers get and customer centricity is what motivates a company to provide customer experience. To provide customer experience, a company first needs to be customer centric. The result of company’s customer centricity would be customer experience, which is judged by customers.

Companies provides good customer experience by doing the right things at the right time without being asked for it. And yes, that is possible if we have a good understanding of the needs of our customers and prospects: what are they looking for, what are their issues and challenges, what is causing their problems, what can we do to make them happy and satisfied? There is only one way for companies to understand all of this – by listening to customers and prospects.

Listening to customers and getting their feedback is not as simple as it sounds. Understanding problems or needs from customer feedback is hard. Dispatching information to the right people and departments to look for the right solutions is even harder. Finding the right solutions in acceptable time is a challenge. And at the end we need to communicate it back to the customer in the right way. At the top comes being proactive…

All of these are challenging tasks that companies need to organize and manage in a proper way. To do that, companies uses or relies on Customer Experience Management.

Improve interactions between company and customer

Customer Experience Management (CEM) is a concept or process that describes and helps us to take control on how we interact with customers. CEM helps us to improve interactions between company and customer from customer perspective throughout the entire journey that a customer has with a company.

When I say entire journey, I mean the whole journey from starting to make a customer interested in a product or service through sales and delivery; to using and referring products and services to other customer; and ultimately terminating or stopping using products and services. In all of these steps of the journey we need to satisfy the customer and provide a good experience. Customer needs to experience the brand and feel the trust. Even if a customer stops using your service, having a nice experience during the termination of the contract is important, and may lead to referral or promotion. Obstacles in any of the steps in customer journey can jeopardize the whole process and bring customer dissatisfaction.

Nowadays, thanks to technology, customers interact with a company using different channels and means; from physical channels to digital, from assisted interaction to unassisted. And this is very good and positive, it brings lot of possibility for companies to market their products and services. But here the saying “a sword with two blades” applies as well; companies need to manage all these channels and it this is not easy.

In most of the companies, these channels are managed by different departments and different people. These departments use different technologies and systems. In one world channels are organized into silos – which cause in most cases different experiences through different channel – and customer don’t like it. Customers do not care about how a company is organized internally and what the reason behind it is. Customers do not care if we have different people taking care of call-centre and different people providing support in a dealer store, or if call-centres use different systems. They just care about what they get. And they also see you as a company, they do not see call-centres and dealer stores separately. Even if customers in most cases have preferred channel of communication, they tend to feel the same experience whatever channel they come through.

Looking at all of this, I would say that it is a fact that it is extremely challenging for companies to provide good customer experience.

Most companies see their future in the ability to interact with customers through multiple channels. For the companies to be successful in interacting with customers through multiple channels, I see that companies will need to have unified customer experience management process (supported with adequate system/s) for all channels.

In one sentence, companies have to provide seamless experience through all channels where customer will feel brand and not channels – “An Omnichannel”.

Omnichannel (CEM applied to all interaction channels)

Looking to the innovations in this domain (mainly IT innovations), from my perspective the most interesting ones are solutions for Omnichannel enablement – the solutions that enables companies to reuse their existing IT stacks and become “Omnichannelized”.  More and more companies are implementing capabilities to use predictive data analytics to enable better customer experience.

I already mentioned Omnichannel, it is a new buzzword – (I say buzzword because still we do not know even how to write it correctly; omni-channel, omnichannel, omni channel…) and it is a very interesting topic. I am planning to write about Omnichannel in my next blog post.

We spend lot of time with our clients working on the topics of customer experience management and Omnichannel. We support our clients regarding strategies, impact assessments and transformation projects. If you have any question, comments or suggestions please do not hesitate to send me an email.