Social CRM and Customer Experience: You Don't Need Luxury, You Need to Feel Luxurious

Updated: July 23, 2010

To get a customer to be your evangelist or loyalist takes a lot of work. It takes a conscious effort by a company to have enough insight into the individual customer's ongoing interactions, thinking and feelings about your company and all relevant surrounding factors, to give customers the emotionally satisfying experience that they need to be passionate about you. To get that knowledge -- understanding how the customer thinks, what the customer thinks, then capturing and analyzing that information -- is vital to gaining the insight into the individual customer.

Psychographics v. Demographics

To think about a customer's experience and how he or she values it, it pays to understand the customer as more than just a member of a segment, but as an individual. The kind of data to begin considering is not just the traditional transactional data (e.g. purchase history) or even just the ordinary demographic data (e.g. geographical info or income level) but psychographic data such as lifestyle information or individual attitudinal data including beliefs or purchase motivations and so forth.

Why? Let me give you an example of how it gets used. Throughout all the elections in 2008 from president on down, pollsters and campaign staffers used a strategy called micro-targeting. In short, it means, "If I drive a Porsche (suurrre I do), love to windsurf, am known as even-tempered and have three kids who are huge Yankees fans, then I will have a propensity, given other people's historic psychographic data to measure against, to vote Democratic in senatorial races when the Democratic candidate is a member of a minority."

The tools to capture that information are widely available, and the amount of information being made available by individuals is not all that hard to find in some serious detail. SMM (Social Media Monitoring) tools, in combination with Facebook, LinkedIn and other site profiles plus historic customer records in CRM systems, can give you a pretty detailed look at an individual's likely interests - and thus what kind of experience will "make them feel luxurious."

Even More Granular?

But understanding of an individual's psyche from data is only one of the things that needs to be considered. How humans truly interact is another consideration when putting together a program that will support and enhance the customer's experience with your company.

Think of this: If I asked you the following questions and gave you five minutes to answer - how would you answer?

Name, in the next five minutes, something you:

  1. Are in love with
  2. Love but are not in love with
  3. Like a lot but neither love nor are in love with
  4. Think "eh" about
  5. Dislike
  6. Hate

I bet, that in five minutes, you could answer each of those. But if I asked you the emotional difference between 4.2 and 4.7 on a scale of 5.0, could you tell me? Of course not.

Human beings live in emotional terms. Each of us has a granular understanding of how we feel at any given moment - and there's a lot associated with each of those "feeling states" (as I once heard them referenced). A business that focuses around loyalty marketing tends to operate on numeric scales because they are easier for operational reasons - that is, they provide a benchmark and measurements. But for experiential purposes - meaning the things that actually affect how a customer thinks of you - they are not as valuable. The relationship you have with the customer is only as good as his or her current feelings about you. This means you need to know what they are so that you can handle the bad feelings - which as you well know can go viral now - or boost the good ones - which increases the customer's "stickiness" when it comes to his/her experience with you and increases the chance that the customer will become an active evangelist for you.

What I'm going to go through briefly is how you go about getting that emotional insight - not what you need to do programmatically once you have the insight. That's a whole other ballgame.

So, how do you go about getting the insight?

Customer Experience Mapping

The customer interacts with you. There are multiple channels that they do that on; there are multiple points of interaction/intersection in each channel; a variety of things occur at each point. The whole purpose of customer experience mapping is to see what happens at each point to each customer so that you can create a matrix that identifies which are the crucial intersections to you for most of your customers and how well it meets what the customer expects of the experience at that point. This will then give you the clear insights you need to identify what to do to rectify a problem or enhance an already great experience or improve an average one - if it's something you want to do.

To map the customer experience, the first thing you have to do is identify each point in the customer's interaction. To make it easy on us, I'll use a store. The first point of interaction might be the customer seeing the store or opening the door and going into the store. Let's say its the latter. When they go in the store, they have an expectation of a few things:

  1. The door will open easily.
  2. They will see a greeter at the door - or not.
  3. They will see shelf after shelf of goods - or not.
  4. They will see a very high-end display or a clean store or....not.

I could go on but you get the idea. Let's say they expect a greeter at the door and a clean store. What you have to consider next is what they actually see:

  1. Is there a greeter at the door as expected or not?
  2. Is the store as clean as they expect it to be?

Let's assume they expected the greeter and there wasn't one, and the store was not as clean as they expected. The next question that you have to consider in the mapping, given that expectations weren't met - an important point - is how important did they consider their particular expectation at that moment when it wasn't met? In other words, you are considering the weight of the result to the customer. So...

  1. The fact that there was no greeter wasn't a particularly important thing to them and really was barely a memory.
  2. The fact that the store wasn't as clean as they expected, however, was very important to them and either they left or they went in but shortened the amount of time they were there.

The results of what's expected can be:

  1. Didn't meet expectations
  2. Met expectations
  3. Exceeded expectations

How much importance a customer gives to the result of the actual interaction varies according to the customer.

What you are identifying and then measuring is three things:

  1. The customer's interaction with you at a particular point
  2. The result from the customer's standpoint
  3. The importance or weight that the customer places on the result

Getting a clear picture of that via a predetermined number of in-person or one-to-one interviews with the customer asking neutral (non-emotional, non-guided) questions about their experience at the particular points gives you a great picture of the actual kinds of experiences that customers have with you.

The Benefits

The benefits are actually very clear. You have an accurate picture of actual customers' experiences with you and how well you did with them and how much importance they placed on each interaction. Granular emotional knowledge allows you to concentrate on the areas that emerge. Specifically it helps you develop programs that either solve problem areas that matter and you didn't know you had, or improve things that can be improved in places important to the customer, while putting the less important things on the back burner. So your budgets can be used effectively.

Brief Case Study

The largest telco in Sri Lanka is Dialog Telekom. It is a blue chip company, winner of award after award, top rated, with nearly 6 million customers, making it by far the largest of Sri Lanka's telco providers. Its entire world is the customer experience -- not just mobile phones and landlines and over the air bandwidth. Dialog Telekom sees itself as a program provider who's mission is to be part of every Sri Lankan's individual lifestyles. To do that, it recognizes the value of customer experience mapping. Consequently, when it began, Dialog Telekom mapped once a quarter. Now, Dialog Telekom maps every single day. The results? The most successful company in the country.

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