What are the best customer experience practices in 2020? In this article we’ll show you five strategic steps that’ll take your CX management to the next level:
Customer experience refers to the sum of customers’ experience pre- and post-sale, from the moment a prospect becomes aware of your product to all his interactions with you as a customer.
You can see at once the multiple touchpoints that run the gamut of customer experience. From web content consumption to product inquiries to free trial subscription, the customer moves onto purchase and ticket submission and, ultimately, repeat sale.
All these mean having marketing, sales and support teams — and product development, to an extent — on the same page to respond to individual customer needs and, thus, guide customers down the path to purchase.
In real terms, a properly executed CX management can cut customer churn, increase revenues and result in more repeat business, among many other customer experience management benefits.
The aspiration to meriting happy customers is driving companies to invest in technology for better customer communication management. In a recent study by RedPoint Global, they indicated that “customer engagement is at the center of digital transformation.” Machine learning and AI are increasingly being tailored to meet the demands of consumers and help businesses provide a better customer experience.
That satisfied customers are the bread and butter of business is further reinforced today by the emergence of customer experience management platforms, which is pulling together CRM, marketing and salesforce automation and help desk under one roof driven by a shared goal: make customers happy.
If you haven’t yet, making customers happy is a strategic direction you should be taking to stay competitive. The technologies are out there, either as disparate but integrated apps or a technology stack of fully integrated marketing, CRM and service apps. We’ll explain later why the latter is your better option, using as a case study the HubSpot Service Hub. It’s a paid help desk subscription integrated with the free HubSpot CRM. You can easily sign up for the HubSpot CRM free app here as it will very likely be the core architecture to build your CX management around.
The case studies on successful customer experience implementation are likewise by the dozen, bannered by established brands as Macmillan, Vodafone and Thomas Cook. But get this, CX is not a technology, but a strategy. So, even before you start cherry picking the right software, do you have a clear CX process in place?
The fastest way to get your CX management up to speed is to learn the customer experience best practices used by successful businesses. Consider the steps below in their order, as the foundation of good CX management, one that is promulgated by management, adopted by employees and driven by technology.
It starts with you, as a business leader. CX management demands senior leadership and strategic commitment to put it on a success path built on coordinated tasks and shared goal across the organization. CX management crosses over into different departments, such as sales, marketing, support and operations, but someone has to steer the whole organization towards the main goal.
For small business, this can be the owner, CEO or the marketing head. But for larger organizations, things can get muddled among the marketing director, sales director, operations head and a motley crew of vice-presidents. The C-level executive, either the CEO, CMO or COO, must step in and lead the way. At the least, a VP for CX must be identified and given authority to lead the crossover teams and the task to report to senior management.
In 2018 Temkin Experience Ratings, a leading customer experience industry benchmark, leadership is identified as a key competency to successful and sustainable CX management. Like any competent project leader, the CX manager ensures the following:
The good news is, CX managers today have a slew of cloud solutions to meet their goals. Case in point, a help desk like HubSpot Service Hub allows you as the CX leader to at once see the big picture and ground details. Your team can log, organize and track all customer issues in one place, while they keep tab of agent performance like response time and customer satisfaction rating. This means customer demand can be effectively managed and the support team coached properly based on key CX metrics.
First impression matters. As any marketer knows, you only have one shot to project your desired image. That’s why it’s important your customer-facing teams understand your brand values.
It used to be simple. Brand values are traditionally associated with advertising, where the brand personality and key messages are clearly defined. Think Apple and you associate it with design; think Microsoft and utility and function come to mind.
But ads today are no longer the poster boy of brand communication, support and sales are as critical to how branding is relayed to your customers, no small thanks to social media that hyper connects customers to each other and to your organization.
If Marketing has already codified brand values in its communication plan, this step is as simple as sharing and discussing the brand profile with the other teams. You may do an audit to update the profile, but the core key messaging is likely to stay the same.
Otherwise, you need to create a brand profile to rally everyone around your brand values. This guarantees consistency in what the brand stands for and how you want it perceived by your key audiences.
So, what go into a brand profile? For this we turn to the ad people, still the experts in the field. Duffy Agency, for instance, gives you a step-by-step guide on how to build a brand profile. In a nutshell, a brand profile contains the following elements:
How important is having consistent brand values? Imagine this, an Oracle support or sales agent unable to provide answers to your basic ERP questions. The agent is diluting the brand positioning of Oracle: a thought leader in enterprise solutions. The name built over the decades is compromised in a jiffy by an untrained agent.
You can now focus on the actual details of your CX management process. At this stage, employee engagement is important, especially among your customer-facing teams. With multiple touchpoints involved, CX management requires an interdepartmental structure with all team members clear on their share of tasks.
How do you do this? By coming up with a customer journey map. It’s a diagram that identifies the stages of customer engagement with the company, from awareness to purchase to customer service. You can, in fact, simplify the CX stages between pre and post sale.
The pre-sale stages vary depending on your business, but distinct phases can be surmised across industries. A good illustration is this HubSpot buyer’s journey divided into: awareness, consideration and decision:
The HubSpot diagram is a lead generation pipeline specific to inbound, but it plots a general framework that can be adapted to myriad marketing approaches. For instance, if you have paid advertising factored into the CX experience, it can be added in the awareness stage. Events can be placed under consideration stage. Use this diagram as a starting point to plot your pre-sale CX process and its requirements, then adjust the details to match your unique workflow.
Notice that the diagram identifies the content requirements to meet customer expectation at every stage. What you can add is the person or team in charge for each requirement, an “owner” for each stage. This promotes accountability on the ground, while you manage the big picture.
Customers go through myriad paths in post-sale depending on your industry and business model. For instance, in ecommerce they deal with order confirmation, shipping and returns. In B2B, clients go through onboarding, training and services. But in general the post-sale customer journey map also consists of these things:
Important: only after spelling out the policy and process above do you start thinking about technology. Today, you have at your disposal dozens, if not over a hundred, of customer experience software solutions that span the range of marketing, sales and support processes.
So what are we looking at here? Mainly, CRM, help desk and marketing automation solutions. Together, these apps give you a 360-degree view of customers throughout their journey, lending context to customer conversations at each stage of the buyer’s journey.
Specifically, here are the key functionalities that help you roll out CX management end to end.
You have two ways to approach technology for customer experience. One is you get a toolkit of different apps for sales, marketing and support and hope they integrate with each other. You will have to deal with different SLAs and varying degrees of support, which may lend inconsistency to your day-to-day business. And critically, you lose leveraging volume order and fail to merit discounts or deals when you deal with multiple vendors.
Two, you build a technology stack for marketing automation, CRM, salesforce automation, help desk. This is the better option because it ensures smooth customer data processing throughout the buyer’s journey. Remember, one of the most important things in CX management is context so all team members can follow the customer’s journey. Having a single stack of native apps means data is shared across platforms and its integrity kept intact. This makes endorsement between agents or teams efficient; in the process, customers experience continuity and consistency from you, even if at the backend, different teams are handling CX.
Much of the actions in CX management take place in support. That means you better arm your post sale team with the right tools like a fully featured support desk. To give you an example of what to look for in a robust help desk, let’s break down the key functionalities of HubSpot Service Hub and how each feature elevates customer experience.
Just like with any project, your CX strategy needs to be evaluated regularly to measure its outcomes. It will also evolve through the years based on your customer needs; hence, you need to keep tab of the KPIs. This ensures your CX process adapts to changes and provides long-term ROI.
As a strategy, customer experience management lumps support with revenue-making units like marketing and sales to cover the whole nine yards of CX. There’s a philosophical shift happening here, as well, forcing you to look at customer service, not as a cost center, but a profit center. It’s a win-win situation, your customers are happy and your business is thriving.
With the CX policy and process fleshed out, you’re ready to implement a measurable and manageable customer experience strategy. You can start with the right tools when you sign up for the HubSpot CRM free app here then integrate it with the HubSpot Service Hub.
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