Customer Experience Management 101
A Simple Framework for a Robust Solution
Every business is aware that the experience a customer has with their brand affects the likelihood that they will be a repeat customer. Many would argue this is a major aspect of developing customer loyalty but, even with this knowledge, the notion of developing a customer experience management program can seem somewhat daunting, especially for small to medium sized retailers – but we’re here to show you that it doesn’t have to be.
When it comes to Customer Experience Management, you often hear about the importance of delivering a perfect, frictionless experience for your customers throughout their entire customer journey. But, while this is certainly an ideal state for many businesses, this isn’t the only way to be effective and successful. No one starts at the top of the podium.
So where should you start? There’s no magic wand, glass slipper or other clichéd plot device to fast track you to the finish line. When it comes to customer experience management, your foundation and source of truth will forever be your customers. So start by listening to them.
What matters most to your customers? You likely have an idea but, fair warning, consumer habits and priorities are changing faster than ever. For more information, we publish bi-annual Changes in Consumer Habits reports to track current trends. This is why the backbone of any strong customer experience management program is to continuously listen to your customers.
Kick off the conversation
Collecting customer feedback using a survey tool is a great way to explore your customers' preferences and understand why they choose to bring their business to you. This survey should be based on what you currently understand about your customers but will equip you with hard data rather than impressions and intuition.
For example, a survey may confirm that your cost compared to competitors is a primary driver, but you may learn that a particular item you stock more frequently is another significant reason why consumers choose to frequent your business. Regularly measuring these key drivers will allow you to focus any effort you put into a CX program on what actually matters to your customers.
Consider all channels
Already have a survey program or want to step up your game even more? Don’t forget about unsolicited feedback. Your customers are most likely providing you with unsolicited feedback via various channels such as:
- Social Media
- Email Inquiries
- In-Store Interactions
Make sure you’re capturing this valuable data to improve customer experience. Social listening tools can help you collect this feedback, and some will even provide sentiment analysis to help you easily categorize and organize this data.
An invaluable form of operational measurement is mystery shopping. Secret shoppers can provide a more targeted look into your daily operations. Feedback from day-to-day customers will be from predominantly higher traffic times of day and be centered around their own reason for visiting on any given day. However, as they’re objective, third-party contractors, you can dictate the locations, time of day and focus of a mystery shopper’s visit.
Alternatively, Operational Auditors are overt investigators who can go places mystery shoppers can't due to their persona as regular customers. Auditors can ask questions of your staff that regular customers would not as well as provide any documentation you might require such as photographs of different areas or items inventory counts.
Now that you’re collecting feedback, you’ll need a way to distill it into actionable insights. Disjointed data makes it difficult, if not impossible, to track trends and prioritize initiatives that will have the biggest impact on your customer’s experiences. For example, a sudden influx of feedback pertaining to long checkout lines can make it look like adding additional cashiers should be a priority, but analyzing feedback over a few months could reveal that your customers are frequently commenting on difficulties navigating your store and finding the items they want.
A major time saver when it comes to collecting and analyzing data from a survey program is a robust CX Platform tool that takes raw data and distills it into simple, easy to read reports. If that’s not enough, a comprehensive customer experience management tool combines data from external sources to give you a holistic picture of your customers’ experiences. Think of it as a data analyst that doesn’t require a salary or benefits.
There are different approaches to organize your data, but most tools come with a default dashboard that will get you started quickly. What is most important is ensuring that the solution you choose helps you highlight the key customer experience metrics related to what matters most to your customers and allows you to track these over time.
Remember, metrics that are important to one team, may not be relevant to another. Don’t be afraid to build different dashboards for team members to avoid clutter and help them easily find what it is they need.
Once you’re collecting data from various channels and pushing it into a CX Platform for analysis, it’s time for all your work to culminate in a productive response. The primary method to improve your customer’s experience is through updating your operational procedures to align with the insights you’ve derived from the previous two stages. This will ensure your front-line workers are focused on what you can now substantively prove matters most to your customers.
For example, if you’ve discovered there is a tendency for checkout lines to have longer than normal wait times during specific hours, have a recurring task for a supervisor to monitor line lengths during those hours and open up an extra cash register whenever they exceed what you consider to be an acceptable length.
Embrace the digital age
A powerful tool for the ongoing management of your operational procedures is mobile inspection software. This refers to an application that can turn any smart device into a checklist or audit form but, unlike paper or traditional office software, is connected to a database that allows you to roll out updates as well as collect submissions from a central hub. This way not only can you easily update any form, but it enables you to quickly take action once one is submitted.
Let’s take the example of recurring audits. Perhaps you’ve identified via the ongoing analysis of customer feedback that consumers often complain about limited availability of sale items during a specific time in your flyer cycle. Mobile inspection software will allow you to roll out a recurring audit to all locations just before that time. Since submitted audits feed into a central hub you can quickly see if any locations lack the required stock to cover the remainder of the sale and react accordingly.
Streamline your solution
A great way to relieve some of the manual burden at this stage is to leverage automation. Many mobile inspection and audit solutions come with built in features. For example, if a submitted stock audit shows that an item is below a pre-set accepted level, software automation can send an alert to relevant party to reach out to your suppliers for more. This means your operations team can spend less time acting as traffic controllers and more time optimizing existing procedures and implementing changes based on your ongoing analysis of customer feedback.
Congratulations! With these interconnected pieces, a variety of methods to collect customer and operational data as well as a central hub in which to organize, analyze and implement changes, you have a functioning Customer Experience Management program. “Functioning” being the operative word. As mentioned previously, consumer priorities will always change and the businesses that thrive will be those that change in tandem.
A robust Customer Experience Management program should never be a one-time initiative but rather “snowball” and build over time. Once you’ve had the chance to measure and establish trends, work to identify new areas for improvement through your Voice of Customer programs and align your focus. As your brand standards and operational procedures evolve, so will your CX program. Consumers will continue to bring their business to companies that actively demonstrate an alignment with their priorities and values and it is this continuous refinement that will make you stand out from your competitors and attract new customers as well as retain existing ones.
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