What Is Customer Experience Management?


Smiley face wood cube on white background.

Our panel of experts discuss how you can improve customer experience management (CEM) after we quickly define what is meant by the term.

What Is Customer Experience Management?

According to Gartner, CEM is “the practice of designing and reacting to customer interactions to meet or exceed customer expectations and, thus, increase customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.”

From this definition, we can establish that CEM is the process of tracking the customer journey to determine its effectiveness and find ways to improve the customer experience.

With this in mind, let’s find out how our panel of experts recommend improving CEM.

1. Understand, Listen and Create a Customer Vision

Before managing the customer experience, you first need to understand your customer’s needs and behaviours and segment them based on these factors.

Identify their pleasure and pain points in the process and create a brand personality that evokes a positive emotive response, which establishes a relationship between the customer and company.

Identify their pleasure and pain points in the process and create a brand personality that evokes a positive emotive response.

Secondly, listen to customers and share your insights with the team. Finding an effective way of capturing customer feedback isn’t always easy, but it’s essential if you’re going to manage it.

Focusing on a quality framework is key to this challenging task, as the observations gained can help measure customer perceptions of the business.

Well-designed quality scoring metrics reflected in your evaluation scorecards can highlight training gaps, broken processes, negative behaviours and areas for improvement for an individual as well as the team.

A thumbnail image of Dick Bourke

Dick Bourke

Finally, creating a customer vision works best in a collaborative and co-creative environment. Lean on your team to provide insights and narratives that are company-specific, and which sample realistic interactions that can model customer experience improvements.

Not only does this promote shared vision and principles, but it also provides the team with a personal investment with the overall objective for how to best manage the customer experience.

Thanks to Dick Bourke at Scorebuddy

2. Perfect Your Channel Shift Strategy

When used appropriately, channel shift is valuable for improving the customer experience. Use your knowledge of your customer base to decide whether they will be happy to be invited to use another channel during busy times.

Your real-time and historical metrics will help you decide when to channel shift; you can meet customers where they are and take them to where you want them to be.

Your real-time and historical metrics will help you decide when to channel shift; you can meet customers where they are and take them to where you want them to be.

For example, to reduce your inbound queue, use an interactive voice recording (IVR) to tell your customers how to find an answer on your website or, if several people send you an email about the same subject, set a dialler to call them back with the information requested.

3. Track the Customer Journey With Data That’s Easy to Analyse

There’s no point having processes to track every interaction and a customer feedback system unless the results are properly analysed.

Choose technology that gives you data which is easy to work with. Use information received on customer preferences to personalise contact or to segment and group certain people together according to their profiles. Then, you have valuable info to inform all your communications, both on- and offline.

A thumbnail picture of Ken Reid

Ken Reid

For example, outbound, you can set up a dialler to call a group of customers when their history has shown they’re most likely to be home and happy to receive a call (Precision Dialling).

By doing this, you can see if a call has been rejected and switch channels, or you could send a text to remind someone of a forthcoming appointment or payment, or an email to flag up that their insurance is coming up to its renewal date. Perhaps you could even post a card for their birthday (you never know when this might make someone’s day)!

Thanks to Ken Reid at Rostrvm Solutions

4. Make Journeys Simpler With Proactive Customer Service

82% of British customers expect companies to be more proactive, by reaching out to them to provide better service, for example by sending reminders, service notifications or confirmations – according to a NICE inContact report.

Managing the customer experience does not only involve keeping track of (and giving advisors access to) interactions that were initiated by the customer, but customers today expect you to become more proactive.

This does not mean that today’s consumers appreciate cold calling any more than they did ten years ago. But it does mean that they expect you as a company to make their life easier by reaching out to them in the channel of their choice such as email or text, even calls when it’s urgent, as appropriate.

A photo of an arrow made up of puzzel pieces

Add rules into the customer journey so that the customer automatically receives a proactive notification when they reach a certain touchpoint.

One way to do this would be to add rules into the customer journey so that the customer automatically receives a proactive notification when they reach a certain touchpoint.

For example, a bank could send a proactive notification when a customer’s account is going below a minimum. Such a message could be invaluable to their experience.

5. Fine Tune Your Approach to Self-Service

Self-service can be a very positive, productive and cost-effective interaction channel, and as such, it should be an important part of CEM.

When self-service is done well and uses a channel that your customers actually want to use to interact with you, it can not only be a very cost effective, it can also:

  • lighten your agent’s load of handling routine interactions
  • provide your customer with anytime, anywhere service
  • improve the customer experience.

Just remember that interactions in a self-service channel must be treated in the same fully integrated manner as any agent-assisted interaction; your agents need to know, because sometimes what happened online does not necessarily stay online.

6. Choose Your System of Record

You need to choose your system of record to be able the manage the customer experience throughout the customer life cycle.

There really is not a right or wrong way to approach this. The one and only rule is that every single interaction, regardless of channel, must be tracked and become part of how you manage each customer’s experience.

Annette Miesbach

Some contact centres use their customer relationship management (CRM) system for it, which is probably the most logical choice. So, if you choose your CRM as your system of record, simply make sure that your integration is “two-way”.

What is meant by this? Firstly, your CRM needs to empower your advisors to personalise (and therefore better handle) customer interactions by giving them access to previous interactions and customer data. But every interaction should also improve your CRM, the data and knowledge you collect about your customer.

Thanks to Annette Miesbach at NICE inContact

7. Measure Customer Emotion Across the Experience

By measuring the customer emotions at different stages of the customer journey, you can gain a better understanding of what customers like and dislike about you and your brand.

It isn’t always enough to know what customers are talking about. It can be even more useful to know how they feel.

Customer feedback – from calls, social media, your website, your advisors, or any other source – contains a treasure trove of useful business information. But it isn’t always enough to know what customers are talking about. It can be even more useful to know how they feel.

According to the peak-end rule, we should be designing customer journeys to have a large “peak” of positive emotion in the middle and another peak at the end. Tracking our journeys through emotional indicators is the only way to really test this and manage the experience thereafter.

Emotion analysis using an analytics system is the best way to track customer emotion. Peaks and troughs in sentiment scores gives you a place to start if you want to make product improvements, train sales or customer care advisors, or create new marketing campaigns.

8. Minimise Customer Effort

Effort is an evaluation of the ease or difficulty of a customer experience. In other words, the amount of work a customer has to exert in order to interact with a business, service or product.

Research has shown that effort is a leading indicator of loyalty, which aligns with one of the new rules for customer service; “the best service is no service”.

Using effort as a key performance indicator (KPI) can guide companies in removing frictions from their customer experience. This is important because customers’ impressions of their own effort are tied to their expectations of service, which may vary between different companies and products.

A thumbnail picture of Shorit Ghosh

Shorit Ghosh

To assess effort, contact centres traditionally use the transactional survey question “How much effort did you personally have to put forth to handle your request, on a scale of 1-5?”

However, you can instead analyse the words that a customer uses in their contact centre interactions with a analytics system. This will also help you to avoid using the words “personally put forth…”.

Thanks to Shorit Ghosh at Clarabridge

9. Make Sure the Front and Back Office Are Communicating With Each Other

Gone are the days when customer requests and touchpoints were managed by a single department. Customers can now choose from a growing number of channels when communicating with an organisation.

In order to understand the full customer journey, organisations must consider the huge role played by the back office, with a number of customer queries not being dealt with ‘there and then’ at first point of contact, but instead often being referred to the back office to be processed.

A thumbnail image of Helen Berry

Helen Berry

In order to improve customer experience management, organisations need to optimise their back-office operations in the same way that they would for their front-office contact centre: allocating work based on skill and demand, and having a real-time view of backlogs and productivity in order to plan resources to meet SLAs.

Doing this will likely lead to quicker resolutions, cost reduction and an enhanced customer experience.

Thanks to Helen Berry at Business Systems

10. Test Customer Journeys With Customer Personas

To track the current customer journey and find areas in which to improve, create common personas based on different segments of your customer base and look for any moments of friction as you run these personas through your customer experience.

A thumbnail picture of Anand Subramaniam

Anand Subramaniam

Not everybody has the same experience, so it’s important to do this to find if there are any segments of your customer base that aren’t receiving as good an experience as others. Mystery shopping is another good way to do this.

Customer research through gaining customer feedback is also useful to measure the effectiveness of your current customer journeys, while employing a connected analytics system, across all of your channels, can be even more so.

Thanks to Anand Subramaniam at eGain

11. Don’t Lose Focus on the Advisor Experience

A lacklustre customer experience not only affects the customer experience, it can be demoralising for advisors and other staff members within your organisation.

For example, contact centre processes that leave customers on hold for a long time and systems that require customers to repeat information result in aggravated customers. This prevents advisors from helping to serve customers as they should.

Always think about how your changes to the customer experience will impact the advisor experience, and don’t forget about the importance of making the advisor role fun.

So, always think about how your changes to the customer experience will impact the advisor experience, and don’t forget about the importance of making the advisor role fun.

Gamification and social activities are two obvious ways to bring fun into the contact centre, but make sure advisors help to “create” the fun – that way they will be more invested in it.

12. Offer Choice to Customers

Offering a greater channel choice and flexibility to customers has a direct, positive impact on the customer experience. Yet whenever you add another channel, the customer experience becomes far more difficult to manage.

A thumbnail picture of Sunny Dhami

Sunny Dhami

So it’s best to have a well thought-out omnichannel strategy, where customers have a number of options for how to contact you and can shift easily from one channel to another – without having to repeat their query.

Modern contact centre technologies can simplify the challenges posed by each channel and provide a simplified workflow, which is easily adjustable whether you have multiskilled advisors or not.

Thanks Sunny Dhami at RingCentral

13. Take Control of Social Media

To improve the customer experience, the contact centre, rather than the PR or marketing department, should take full responsibility for managing and monitoring social media on behalf of the whole organisation.

In doing so, organisations will have far greater control over stemming the flow of potentially damaging feedback, gaining ability to nip negative comments in the bud with great responses.

Your followers will likely want inside information and support. Contact centre advisors are specially trained in this and may also be skilled in up-selling too.

Marketing and PR will likely be able to provide a nice discount every so often, but your followers will probably want inside information and support instead. Contact centre advisors are specially trained in this and may also be skilled in upselling too, which can be especially useful too.

14. Allow Advisors to Configure Their Own Desktops

An advisor’s desktop often has a low profile, but it is actually a highly strategic tool.  It should be customisable and link directly to mobile apps such as WhatsApp Messenger, mainstream social media networking sites including Facebook and Twitter plus the latest consumer review websites like Trustpilot.com.

So allow advisors to configure their desktop environment themselves, using widgets that allow them to be presented with the information and functionality most relevant to them without switching screens or resorting to pop-ups.

Even simpler desktop functions, such as having a single sign-on so that advisors don’t need to sign into numerous systems, can massively reduce advisor frustration – which, in tun, improves the customer experience.

For a downloadable checklist for improving the customer experience, click here. 

15. Make the Best of Your CRM System

CRM systems should not just be “seamlessly linked” but should be firmly embedded into the core contact centre solution to accelerate the availability of customer information in one place.

Colin Hay

Colin Hay

By doing so, advisors have everything they need to understand and anticipate client needs proactively and deliver a satisfying customer experience, whatever the channel and at every touchpoint of the customer journey.

More importantly, though, in terms of CEM, the reporting features of an integrated CRM makes contact centre data available to everyone else within your organisation. This makes tracking customer journey much easier.

Thanks to Colin Hay at Puzzel

16. Implement a Speech Analytics System

Businesses using a speech analytics solution can benefit from valuable insights into the data captured during customer interactions.

When combined with interaction data from CRM software, speech analytics allows businesses to understand the successes and challenges in every conversation, refine the customer experience and manage issues more efficiently.

Artur Michalczyk

Being able to identify language that has the hallmarks of an unhappy customer who is likely to churn and then responding with retention offers on the call could have significant financial benefits for businesses.

Furthermore, businesses can ensure they meet their compliance obligations with a simple analysis of all calls, making it easy to identify any non-compliance so that corrective action can be taken.

Thanks to Artur Michalczyk at NewVoiceMedia

17. Track All Customer Interactions

All too often, companies are held back by fractured communications systems which prevent contact centres from recording recurring problems and tracking all customer interactions, whether they be positive or negative.

A system that connects all channels of communications inside and outside the contact centre and which has a strong analytics capability in place will give you a much better overview of the customer experience.

Dejan Deklich

This type of technology tracks all interactions throughout the company, which is the key to monitoring the entire customer journey as one interaction.

For example, a customer calling a company’s reception desk is then transferred to a contact centre advisor, who then forwards the customer outside of the contact centre to speak to a subject matter expert in finance or field sales.

Thanks to Dejan Deklich at 8×8

18. Make Personalisation Easy

For customers, there is nothing worse than feeling like the organisation they’re trying to reach isn’t prioritising their needs.

With this in mind, the first thing that organisations should keep in mind is that customers want to have the company’s whole and undivided attention, while receiving a personalised experience.

Neil Hammerton

Installing a telephony platform that gives advisors a 360-degree view into every customer they speak to allows organisations to form smarter, more personalised relationships with their customers.

Having a more complete and comprehensive view of customers’ needs will enable the speed and management of customer interactions to be significantly improved.

Thanks to Neil Hammerton at Natterbox

19. Use AI to Predict NPS, CSAT and CES Scores From Every Interaction

Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be used to accurately predict a customer’s Net Promoter Score (NPS), CSat or CES. This means that, with access to the masses of data that contact centres collect, analytics can also predict customers’ behaviours – improving call routing and potentially customer retention, if paired with a proactive strategy.

With access to the masses of data that contact centres collect, analytics can also predict customers’ behaviours – improving call routing and potentially customer retention, if paired with a proactive strategy.

Analytics also allows organisations to connect these metrics across all channels with the relevant customer interactions for exceptional targeted root cause analysis. This enables organisations to see what was behind the score and therefore identify the various triggers for good, bad and indifferent scores.

As a result, the contact centre can identify sources of low satisfaction rates and make changes that will significantly improve the customer experience and with it the relevant satisfaction scores.

20. Identify and Save At-Risk Customers

AI can be used to predict customer behaviour by analysing relevant data, such as buying history, survey responses, engagement etc. So one great use for the technology is to anticipate whether or not a customer “churns”.

Thumbnail image of Frank Sherlock

Frank Sherlock

If you can anticipate this, you can “save” their experience and their business before it’s too late. For example, you can target at-risk customers with relevant offers, based on their product history.

The same data analysis can also identify actions that are most effective at driving loyal customer behaviour. For instance, if the analytics identifies words or phrases associated with churn, the agent can be alerted to change tack and offer a solution that is associated with loyalty.

Thanks to Frank Sherlock at CallMiner

For more from our panel of experts, read our articles:


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