Avoiding the four pitfalls of customer experience management strategy

On an almost daily basis I speak to companies about their thoughts and strategies on providing the best possible customer experience and it’s fair to say that the vast majority view it as a high priority on their business planning agenda. However, in the real world the challenge is often converting great ideas into a practical operational plan that can really improve the customer experience.

In my experience, there are four key pitfalls that many organisations face when searching for the right Customer Experience Management (CEM) strategy for their business and it is worth all management teams being mindful of them and planning to avoid them:

Departmental silos

It’s very easy when you are setting up a CEM programme for it to become a project for just one department, rather than involving the whole organisation. You want to develop a consistent customer experience that emanates from across all your departments and is an integral part of your brand values. I like to envisage it as the ‘DNA’ of your business, it should be part of the way the organisation operates and letting the programme fall into small isolated silos will make this very difficult to fulfil. The CEM strategy must involve the entire organisation and all of its touch-points to achieve this.

Think of your business from the customer point of view – they will not see your organisation as a number of departments but as a single entity. Customers only see your products or services offering and are looking to get a particular job or need fulfilled by your organisation – anyone from outside the business is unlikely to care how it is organised. Implementing a CEM strategy for just the contact centre may fail to cover other parts of your business that are also customer facing – such as your stores/branches and the customers they serve, for example. The entire organisation and all its parts need to take ownership of CEM and ensure that the strategy is carried out wherever a customer comes into contact with it.

> See more: 5 ways CIOs can win at customer experience

CEM is more than just the tools you use

In contrast to what some software providers would have you believe, integrating a CEM software platform into your processes is not the complete answer to delivering a great customer experience. Technology is a great tool, but on its own it is just a facilitator and not a panacea for all your needs and goals. When developing a CEM strategy, it’s important that it is a strategic choice encompassing the whole organisation – ultimately it is the people within the organisation that will drive forward the changes that are implemented, not the technology that is used.

To fully embrace a new CEM strategy a company needs to work from the outside in, to ensure it works efficiently to benefit customers and addresses their needs rather than simply being designed to fit convenience internally. This can be a real challenge for many organisations because it involves really listening to customer feedback and acting on their actual needs, rather than delivering preconceived brand promises about great customer experience and excellent service. While there is no clear vision that focusses on cultural changes, even the most advanced IT solution will fail to properly implement an effective and fresh CEM programme.

Focus on positive customer feedback as well as the negative

It’s all too easy to simply focus on the negativity from dissatisfied customers, as their voice will often seem the loudest. Obviously managing customers that are at risk and making them happier is a vital part of any successful CEM programme – but what happens with those customers that genuinely really love your products and services? These customers are ambassadors for your company and its offering. Additionally, they offer a lot of valuable insights and positive feedback on the things you do well – this will show you exactly why they are so enthusiastic about your business, preventing you from changing your proposition and inadvertently discontinuing the very things your customers like!

Focussing on the positives is also hugely beneficial internally, giving your team pride in what they provide, demonstrating why your business makes the offerings that it does and boosting the self-esteem of the whole organisation. Additionally, sharing positive feedback publicly has been shown to boost revenues markedly and adds great kudos to your reputation.

Fully understand the digital experience

Many people tend to underestimate the complexity (or often over-complexity) of their business’ digital channels. It’s very easy for organisations to plan and develop their digital channels so that they are more complex than traditional touch-points, whether they need to be or not, sometimes simply because the functionality is available. Prospects and customers can perform many tasks and services themselves through one website portal – searching for product information, managing their online account, using self-service tools, asking questions online through IM and obviously buying new products. 

This is a very different proposition to a more traditional contact centre call which will typically be done for a specific purpose or issue, such as a specific service related question for example. It’s important to understand this and ensure you are meeting your customers’ needs and expectations fully.

Your digital offering is also another area where it is vital to avoid being reliant on isolated departments within the organisation. This will make it harder to offer a consistent service but equally, makes it harder to correlate any feedback or insights back to all parts of the business.

The technology is now available to ascertain exactly how visitors are using your website and to ask them questions about what they like, what they don’t like and what they would like to see in the future – when it is most relevant for them. This offers a much wider view of the digital customer experience and consequently helps to get a much clearer understanding of the whole customer journey and its suitability for your clients.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...