It is my job to explain in the simplest terms certain digital marketing phrases that may seem confusing, misappropriated or darn well unwieldy.

Today we’ll be taking a look at the terms customer experience (CX) and customer experience management (CEM), phrases that in our increasingly consumer-focused and connection-based economy have risen to the top of every business’s agenda.

Definition of CX

Here are the two different ways marketers refer to customer experience (CX), both of which are entirely related...

  • Customer experience is the sum of all the experiences a customer has with a business during their entire lifetime relationship, taking in not just the key touchpoints (product awareness, social contact, the transaction itself, post purchase feedback) but also how personal and memorable these experiences are.
  • Customer experience can also refer to the quality of an individual experience a customer has over the course of a single transaction.

Bear in mind that the ‘entire lifetime relationship’ can be anything from a single transaction to 80 solid years of brand loyalty. 

The key to strengthening a relationship in order to ensure a customer comes back after that first transaction is to create and manage an excellent customer experience that distinguishes you from the competition.

Definition of CEM

Customer experience management is a strategy used to track, oversee and organise all interactions, in order to help a business focus on the needs of its customers. 

This practice is meant to ‘close the gap’ between the intended customer experience and the actual customer experience.

To help with this, CEM software can be also used to automatically collect and analyse customer feedback. To help with this, CEM software can be also used to automatically collect and analyse customer feedback. A good CEM system should deliver customer insights with full access to analytics, reporting options and integration with your existing customer relationship management software.

Quite simply, a CEM system will ask your customers a very simple one or two question survey, the results of which can then be used to measure, understand and improve customer experience.

Benefits of quality CX and CEM

CEM software can help towards giving everyone in your organisation a single customer view (SCV), the benefits of which include improved customer service, better customer retention, higher conversion rates and hopefully an improved overall customer lifetime value (CLV)

Providing great customer experiences can help create loyal brand advocates, who are more likely to spread positive word of mouth about your brand.

Strengthening brand loyalty can then lead to higher spend. Brand advocates will often spend more, purchase more items and return to the business more frequently.

Ensuring your customers understand why you’re different from your competitors and that you're a unique entity will help ensure they continue interacting with you.

CEM software can help businesses identify customers who are likely to stray, therefore they can be offered incentives to stay loyal.

A freebie here or there is certainly worth it for the promise of repeat custom.

CEM is much cheaper than standard market research. Market research can be lengthy and costly to develop, particularly as they are often incentivized. CEM surveys however are short and to the point.

In conclusion...

Whether you’ve just started to use a piece of software to aid your CEM process or developing an entirely new customer-focused vision for your whole organisation, the quality of your own customer’s experiences should be paramount to your strategy.

What we consider the modern customer experience has more to do with a person’s emotional connection with a business or service provider than the automated measuring of standard touchpoints.

Meaningful relationships need to be built in order to differentiate your brand and help keep customers for life.

Further reading:

For guidance on how to measure customer experience, read our post: What is customer experience and how do you measure it?

Here’s a recent post from December describing how retailers such as Apple can use data personalisation to improve customer experience.

Then for a bumper crop of award winning insight, the Masters of CX is a series of briefings from industry heavyweights on the new keys to outstanding customer experience covering approach and strategy. They are also completely free to download: Masters of CX.

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 14 January, 2015 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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