Customer Experience Management Basics

Updated: April 30, 2009

If the customer is king, doesn't it make sense to treat customers royally? That's the idea behind customer experience management (CEM) , a new customer service concept that many observers view as CRM's next big trend.

The Problem

E-commerce is becoming an integral part of the modern economy. But customers facing hastily deployed Web applications, increasingly complex online environments and steep learning curves are failing in their online experiences at alarming rates.

Recent Harris surveys have shown that 9 out of 10 users have experienced some sort of application obstacle forcing them to abandon a transaction. Forty percent of those users said that the action they took after experiencing an issue was to simply switch away - permanently - to a competitor, either online or offline.

A report released earlier this year by market research firm ForeSee Results found that the customer's experience with a retailer's Web site is a key component in determining customer loyalty and an indicator of longer-term financial success.

CEM technology can also be used to improve customers' experiences with call centers . In the call center, CEM can help customers receive faster and more attentive service and resolve disputes quickly and satisfactorily. The technology can also help businesses optimize call center operations by speeding up work and reducing the need for extensive agent training.

Overall, CEM can help organizations:

  • Maximize the value of every customer Web site visit and call center contact to ensure that more transactions are completed successfully.
  • Identify and rapidly resolve hidden or hard-to-find problems.
  • Gain immediate visibility into issues affecting Web and call center experiences and their business impact.
  • Become more proactive in servicing online and phone customers and provide informed customer service and agent effectiveness.
  • Preserve records of customer interactions for audit, compliance and customer dispute resolution.

The Solutions

A variety of software vendors offer CEM solutions. Here's a look at three market leaders:

Tealeaf : Tealeaf CX is designed to give business owners and managers a customer-eye view of their company's Web site. The software passively captures what every customer does and sees in real time, without risk or impact to the business' applications or infrastructure. The vendor claims that its product can track any type of information that occurs within a customer session through real-time, event-based detection. The software can also check customer interactions in relation to business process success or failure.

Cincom : Cincom Symphony is focused on customer call center experiences. The software aims to show businesses how they can provide faster response times, offer customers predictable follow-up and provide consistent, accurate responses and information. The product also aims to help reduce agent training. Cincom Symphony is offered in both on-premise and hosted versions.

Satmetrix : This vendor offers several different CEM solutions. Satmetrix CEM Service is designed to help customers identify the service and support actions that will have the greatest positive effect on customer services. The product also aims to help businesses understand and measure how support affects customer referrals and financial growth, as well as to resolve support problems on a timely basis before they can escalate and cause customer defections.

Satmetrix CEM Customer enables owners and managers to track customer experience and feedback with a real-time, hosted Web-based system. The solution is designed to show how customers' views and opinions change over time, enabling users to quickly take action to recover dissatisfied customers as well as target opportunities for building revenue.

Satmetrix CEM Partner measures the experience of reseller, support and other strategic partners in the delivery chain. By measuring partner feedback, Satmetrix claims that customers can enhance their ability to influence partners that have direct contact with end users, identify which partners portray the host company positively when dealing with customers and recognize partners and issues that need to be addressed before they become problematic.

The bottom line: Continuous improvement is key to the success of customer experience initiatives. A company must have the appropriate mechanisms and feedback loops in place to measure success and identify areas to optimize. By providing the tools that can help businesses pinpoint and fix service problems, CEM promises to both build customer loyalty and improve sales.

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